From failed dairy farmer to an en­tre­pre­neur

Business Bhutan - - Trendsetter - Phub Dem from Thim­phu

The CEO of iBEST in­sti­tute, Tharchen’s life rep­re­sents the rags to riches story. For screen and graph­ics, Tharchen works like a sculp­tor con­tin­u­ally mold­ing and re­mold­ing the en­tre­pre­neur­ial land­scape.

Un­like to­day, ven­tur­ing out into busi­ness was a ca­reer op­tion rid­dled with risks. Tharchen con­quered the tra­di­tion of show­ing pref­er­ence for civil ser­vice when he grad­u­ated with a univer­sity de­gree. He can be best de­scribed as the man who jour­neyed the road less trav­eled.

He started his ca­reer as a con­fused grad­u­ate as­pir­ing to start a dairy farm. He re­mem­bers all the scorn and crit­i­cism he got from his loved ones then.

But he has a calm and serene air even as he speaks about his bat­tles he faced.

Crit­ics told him that it was stupid to even con­sider be­com­ing a farmer when one had a col­lege de­gree. Tharchen re­calls peo­ple telling him that he would re­gret it when he saw his friends in cozy of­fice chairs.

He has a Bach­e­lor’s De­gree in life sci­ence from Sherubtse Col­lege and was the only one at the time who took up a me­nial ca­reer­go­ing back to the farm rather than try­ing to sit at a desk sign­ing papers. “Opt­ing for self em­ploy­ment as a herds­man was com­pletely out of con­text then,” he laughs.

He set up a dairy farm with much dif­fi­culty in­clud­ing lack of fi­nances, com­mu­nity re­sis­tance and friends call­ing him in­sane.

When he did fi­nally con­form to the idea of pre­par­ing for the civil ser­vice exam to se­cure a job af­ter the failed at­tempt to start a dairy farm, he started work­ing as a print re­porter in one pri­vate news­pa­per.

While re­port­ing he dis­cov­ered the Lo­den Foun­da­tion and ap­plied for a loan. With the Nu 450,000 he got, he be­came a dairy farmer of­fi­cially in De­cem­ber 2010.

He com­pares be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur and con­ceiv­ing busi­ness ideas and ex­e­cut­ing them to a tick­ing bomb­full of risks yet fraught with pos­si­bil­i­ties. “The idea be­comes you; the idea be­comes syn­ony­mous and mal­leable with you that you be­come in­sep­a­ra­ble from your idea, un­con­sciously”.

His en­tre­pre­neur­ial jour­ney has been akin to open­ing Pan­dora’s box-he got a rev­e­la­tion of the self, with all his weak­nesses and short­com­ings. How­ever, the good part was that the ex­peience chal­lenged him to un­leash his po­ten­tial and strengths. “It ei­ther makes or breaks you.”

Tharchen pointed out the tremen­dous chal­lenges in cul­ti­vat­ing self-dis­ci­pline, com­mit­ment, pro-ac­tive­ness, en­durance, per­se­ver­ance, and esprit de corps- all point­ing to­wards per­sonal lead­er­ship and man­age­ment acu­men skills.

It took him more than a decade to re­al­ize the skills an en­tre­pre­neur is re­quired to have. He re­called how his first dairy farm­ing ven­ture failed be­cause he did not have the skills. Calmly, he said that af­ter his first ven­ture failed, for al­most two years he was des­per­ate, con­fused and hope­less. “I call my­self the failed dairy farmer,” he said with a grin.

Then he made a de­ci­sion: af­ter hand­ing over his dairy farm to his par­ents he re­turned to Thim­phu again and set up a pri­vate com­pany. On the side­lines, he worked on start­ing the iBEST in­sti­tute to give con­crete shape to his dream of story-telling. He chose graph­ics and an­i­ma­tion as the medium fas­ci­nated him.

Since found­ing the iBEST com­pany in Au­gust 2014, Tharchen leads the com­pany as the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer spear­head­ing prod­uct de­vel­op­ment and strate­gies. Hav­ing availed nu­mer­ous cour­ses in Bhutan in the field of en­trepreneur­ship, re­search, project man­age­ment, men­tor­ing and cur­ricu­lum de­sign, Tharchen has a broad over­view of di­verse pro­fes­sions. He is a pas­sion­ate trainer and pub­lic speaker with spe­cial­iza­tion in project man­age­ment and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment.

His lat­est and big­gest project so far is the Nu 15mn an­i­ma­tion film The leg­end of Pemi Tshe­wang Tashi.

As Tharchen fi­nally fin­ishes his tale of sur­viv­ing against the odds, he gets up from his chair. “I have learnt that be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur is like a baby learn­ing how to walk with­out a rocker,” he says softly yet there is no deny­ing the steely glint in his tone, “But the ex­pe­ri­ence you gain in the process is over­whelm­ing and price­less.”

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