Why are Nepali Startups losing to foreign competitors even within the Nepali market?

Earlier Nepal was viewed as an agricultural country. But coming to this day, the scenario is different. Nepal is equally advancing in the technological field. 

The youths are also coming up with new ideas and innovations. And these ideas are contributing more to the startup culture in Nepal. 

Earlier the only businesses in Nepal were trading. And the new generations continued the family business not leaving much room for creativity and new ideas.

But today there is a different scenario. Currently, there are 325 startups registered in startup Nepal. Needless to say, there are a lot of active members of society who have taken a chance in serving the Nepalese market. However, we have also noticed that our Nepali startups are facing tough competition from foreign companies.

But what is causing the issue? Why the Nepali startups are facing competition in Nepal itself? What are these startups lagging to attract customers?

startup vs big company

Nepali Startups Vs Foreign Companies

Ride Sharing Apps

We all know the two most popular and competing ride-sharing apps. Pathao and Tootle.

Pathao is from a Bangladeshi company and Tootle is the product of Sixit Bhatta’s startup. Amongst this tough competition pathao seems to have an upper hand.

I have noticed that either people have both tootle or pathao app on their phone. Or the most number of people only have pathao. 

Users prefer Pathao because although tootle has a cheaper rate, pathao has a more reliable and faster service. Besides, the consistent discount codes of pathao help lower prices.

Chicken Serving Restaurants

When the famous brand of Kentucky Fried Chicken opened up at DurbarMarg, people went crazy for them. This started a rage for a Chicken Serving restaurant. 

Valley Xpress opened its door via a restaurant in 2014. They have their chicken farm and served people selling raw meat before. Likewise, Chicken Station and KKFC also provide similar menu items. Yet, we can see that if given the choice people prefer KFC over others. 

Shoe Brands

Another example can be of the local footwear, GoldStar. GoldStar was released in Nepal in 1990 and now has reached even India for their sales. 

It has products ranging from low to high. There is no doubt the low range shoes of Goldstar have found their audiences. But when coming to a higher range, people rather opt for the international brands.

Not only Goldstar, but the story is the same with Nepali brands like Black Horse, Run shoes. It is like teenagers would never flaunt their Blackhorse or GoldStar shoes as they do to their Nikes. This is the bitter truth, that our local brands face such loss against these international brands. 

Also Read: Nepali startups who rejected failure.

What could be the factors?

There can be many reasons under consideration why people prefer foreign brands over local ones. Why is it that foreign brands are giving such a tough time to our Nepali startups?

Trust Issues

A major reason why gaining customers is hard for Nepali startups is because people are skeptical about trying Nepalese-based products when they are currently using international standards. People doubt that they will receive the same quality and service. 

Well, the issues of Nike and Adidas fake showrooms in Durbar Marg have added more fuel to the trust issues. People still doubt that these shops sell fake shoes for the original price. 

People have the old mindset that Nepali brands are not reliable. And that seems to continue throughout the generations.


This is probably the most important factor for any business. Lack of funding can lead to many different problems in a business especially a startup.

Enough funding means good marketing strategies, better quality, easy management, and better chances. Startups naturally struggle the most with gaining enough funding. You can check out our article on how to get funding for your startups


People follow whatever is on the trend currently. It is very important for setting a trend through your products or have similar products with the ongoing trends. 

An example is JuJu Wears, which brought in a whole new revolution for the Nepali t-shirt business. They sell Nepalese styles in trendy designs. Suddenly after JuJu’s graphic designs on t-shirts became a rage. So it is highly crucial to ensure your products have a trendy attraction for your targeted customers. Because once they are attracted to it, your business will take off. 

Expectation vs reality

A very important thing to remember is that businesses do not succeed within a day. It always takes time. But most Nepali companies seem to lack this concept. 

They do not plan their business models in a way that can run at a loss for a couple of years. This is one of the major differences between a successful foreign business and a startup.

Our startups quit and shut down after not being able to operate and lose hope. You can not have major expectations within a year too. Hence, the business plan should be made in a way that the business can operate even on a loss for a couple of years.

Lack of vision

Startups should study the market they are targeting and the audience very well. Most of the time, the imported products offer the same price or even lower prices. Hence everyone will naturally choose the imported product for the same price. These businesses should focus on serving better quality or something unique than the imported products. 


This may come off as obvious but management makes a great impact on a business. Marketing should receive a lot of importance for startups. 

Pathao is known for its constant discount codes. For people to come shop at your place they should first know that it exists. An awesome marketing strategy should be part of every startup! As it is the best way to gain attraction and consumers.


And yes, our main villain, competition. 

It is expectantly very hard to compete with an international, multinational company in Nepal. A startup with any amount of funding or marketing strategy will have at least a slight difficulty in competing with an experienced and trendsetting company. 

KFC is world-renowned for its classic taste. It is difficult for startups to offer the same service for the same price as these businesses. Indian and Chinese products are very deep in our Nepalese markets. Yet, with originality, marketing, and a lot of dedication Nepalese startups can indeed make it big.

Well having said all this, it is high time for everyone to support our local manufacturers. People should give local startups an equal chance as they give to international products. 

Our local businesses go through a lot in comparison to them. Similarly, these companies should also work in bettering their management and focussing on audiences.

At the end of the day, both types of businesses are essential for the progress and development of the economy as well as the market. It all depends on the consumers to choose where their money goes, so make sure to attract them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *