Giving us the best of the wood products and special designs, Metalwood Nepal is the modern era handmade wood manufacturing company. It is a design studio and workshop run by four people and is based in Saugal, Mangalbazar. It’s main focus is on architecture, interior design and furniture making.
Let us see what Nico, one of the founding members has to say about Metalwood Nepal.
1. What is the social problem that you are trying to solve?
We did not start out to solve a problem in the society. We’re a big family in terms of work so our primary goal was to create a hub where all of us could work together and know what’s going on with each other’s work progress. We have designers, architects, managers, workers and painters working in the same place and sharing ideas. Everything we make is purely handmade. From wood cutting, drying to dyeing, every step is done by hand. We only use mango woods, pine woods and rose wood, which are all from Nepal itself and take short time to grow so the cutting process does not affect the environment, to make our products. There are few cases or designs for which, we use the pinewood from Canada but mostly it is the woods from the country itself.
So, you see we did not start out as a social enterprise but as we started to operate, it did have some kind of social impact and we’re happy that it turned out that way.
2. Can you share with us your journey with Metalwood Nepal? What is its market potential?
The journey is a simple one. My partner and I used to work together on interior designing and creativity even before Metalwood was established. However, we faced difficulty in coordinating and moving unfinished products from one place to another. We were losing a lot of time, effort and final products’ quality. So, the idea of Metalwood came up in order to keep everyone under the same roof and work in harmony to create authentic high quality products.
The market potential of our products is very high as they have been appreciated by a lot of people. They’re impressed with our designs and quality and have been placing second and third orders too. So, I’d say we have that potential to penetrate into the market.
3. What is the legal status of the company? What stage is the company in right now?It’s registered as a Private Limited Manufacturing Company. It still is in the beginning stage and is doing well, but many new things to do.
4. How many employees did you start with and what is your employee strength now?
Oh my god! We just had one when we started out. One fix architect was there but the other works were outsourced but now it is more than thirty working in the same place.
5. How did you raise funds for Metalwood Nepal?
We feel really proud and happy to say that we didn’t require funding from outside sources to start our company. Metalwood started out on a very small scale so it did not require a lot of funding. In fact, we were able to continue operations with the revenue we generated after selling the products. It was only after a year or so that we were able to invest in a bigger and better workshop which we are working today.
6. Were there any challenges that you faced while starting Metalwood Nepal?
Well, we did have many challenges while starting out mainly in terms of technical necessities. Since we deal with real wood and craft everything handmade, the production process gets a bit difficult. Accordingly, we find it hard to locate different materials in the Nepali market to complete a design.
7. Are there any challenges that you are still facing?
The major challenge for us currently is to find a better location for our workshop and to relocate it. Additionally, we’re doing everything we can to keep our noises low and not disturb the environment we work in. We’re also trying our best to keep our employees happy and retain them in the company.
8. What is your investment to date? Have you been generating profits?
We never had to invest as the revenue from our products covered all our expenses. Although the demand and market potential is really high, we haven’t been able to reap a lot of profits because of the low volume of production. Like I mentioned earlier, if we’re able to overcome the challenge of finding a bigger and better workshop then we’ll definitely be able to enjoy more profits.
9. Who are your target customers? How many customers do you have on a monthly basis?
Our target customers are everyone in the Nepali market. Regarding our customers, it’s not always the same but I’d say around 20-30 per month.
10. Is your business based on self-sufficiency or profit-making model?
I don’t know where we can place our business model as we haven’t really thought about it. But here’s how we do business, we take orders, deliver the final products and calculate the profit/loss at the end of the month. That’s pretty much our business model.
11. Do you have any key needs for your company?
Since we’re planning to relocate our workshop and make it bigger, we’re in need of more human resource. Our plan is to double or triple our capacity so we can deliver more products. We’re also looking for someone to work in the Marketing and Communications department. Although we have enough demand in the market, we want to ensure that we’re really reaching out to more customers and also networking with other Nepali companies.
12. Do you have any future plans for Metalwood Nepal?
Yes! The nearest future plan for Metalwood Nepal is to find a great workshop location to relocate to.
13. Do you consider yourself as a social entrepreneur?
I guess not! I was simply creating products and our plan wasn’t to give back to the society or the environment but we somehow tapped into that market or, let’s say, aspect too.
14. Do you measure the impact of your company?
Yes, we do. People are pretty amazed by the quality we provide. Everything is authentic and handmade and we don’t cheat people in any way. We’ve also seen a lot of people trying to copy our designs, which we think is good anyways. I guess we’ve been able to create a positive impact in the society by delivering consumers the kind of products their money is worth and making the producers more competitive to provide great service.
Interviewed by Ashmita Rai and Edited by Yangzum Lama