Participants' Profiles

Tsukti Longkumer

Tsukti clearly recollects the days when he would earn pocket money as a young boy booking bus tickets for people in Kohima. He would walk several kilometers on foot to the bus station at dawn because at that time the shortage of transportation options created long queues and tickets being sold out. The turning point in his life was when he attended a career-guidance session by a local entrepreneur who gave him Rs.100 to 'use wisely'. Deeply inspired, he borrowed Rs.150 from his family to form the minimum amount of Rs.250 needed to create a current account and started acting upon his dreams of also becoming a successful businessman. He then borrowed a typewriter from a friend and started typing and printing documents for people in his hometown Mokokchung where the availability of such facilities and resources were scarce. The rest is history as they say.

Today Tsukti owns an offset printing press and Mokokchung's first luxury hotel called Whispering Winds. He confesses he can never live a lavish life even if he could afford to because values like frugality and hard work which defined his journey have become a part of him. He gets invited to give career-guidance talks these days and to those who are inspired he gives Rs.1000 - the minimum amount needed to open a current account today. Recently he went to his old friend to buy a part of him that started it all - the old typewriter. He keeps it in his office.


Zuboni Sekhose Humtsoe

Not many people have stories of entrepreneurial adventures from their childhood. At the tender age of 10, Zuboni, a comic freak, realized that many neighbourhood friends would borrow comics and magazines from her home so she decided to open a library. She set aside a small corner of their home, neatly arranged her huge collection of comics and started charging a fee for borrowing them, earning some pocket money besides buying more comics. Many years later, as a young college student Zuboni sold beauty products of the well-known brand Oriflame the profits of which covered her expenses.

Zuboni also was always into style and fashion, participating in fashion shows as a stylist during college fests and other platforms. Realizing her ability to sell well she decided to build on her interest and started Precious Melove - now a well-known brand that sells female clothing using professionally-shot photos of them worn by Naga models through a Facebook page. It collected over 20,000 likes in two years and now she's looking for ways to expand the business.

Vethivo Kezo

As a young boy, Vethivo used to help his uncle with his carpentry in his workshop. What started as a casual visit became a habit and eventually a passion. He had an uncommon dexterity with which he would shape wood and turn his imagination into reality. It was during his college years while in a dilemma, like everyone else, about what career to choose, that he decided to listen to his intuition and get into business. Coming from a Humanities background he wanted a better idea about business and the related environment so he pursued a Master's in Economics. He then took up Diploma in interior designing to augment his existing skills. After all the objective-oriented education was complete he came back home to Kohima to start implementation. With a lack of capital he started his business with few hammers and a saw. It has been almost 3 years and he now has machinery and 7 employees. He says, "Unlike other businesses one of my biggest challenges is turning potential customers away because of the limited capacity of my set-up. But I have my plans to expand to meet the demand."


Wapong Longkumer

After spending 11 years in companies like HP, Wapong decided to pursue his dreams seeing the opportunities in Nagaland. Banking on his vast IT experience he started Soyah, a Dimapur-based firm that deals with IT hardware retail and software solutions for businesses and institutions. Given the small size of the market he also diversified and got into designing and printing of marketing-related necessities such as brochures, pamphlets, flyers etc. which came about as a result of a hobby designing greeting cards. Realising the potential of his self-taught IT expertise during his B.A. days he pursued certified IT courses needed for a career in the sector. His humanity and love for Nagaland eventually made him decide to leave his lucrative IT career and establish his own venture in his hometown. An ex-students' union president, Wapong is a people person and says the desire to enrich lives around him drives him in what he does.


P.Chingmak Chang

When he was 9 years old Chingmak bought samosas from his neighbor and sold them to his classmates for a profit of Rs.2 per piece. It may have been only for a short while but it influenced his aspirations and he made up his mind to start something of his own one day.

Given his inclination for business he pursued a degree in Economics to understand the intricacies and dynamics of business environments. He also wanted some experience and exposure working in a company to understand how they manage so many employees so after his graduation, he joined Accenture as an HR. During that time he also completed his MBA in HR from Symbiosis, Pune co-sponsored by Accenture. After 7 long years with the company he decided it was time to come and start something in Tuensang, his hometown, where there are few employment opportunities. After assessing the scope and opportunities he decided to start a bakery with a specific aim to employ only local youth. Within just about one year he has managed to set up Breadbasket, a fully-mechanized bakery with 2 retail outlets and 12 employees.


Abenla Ozukum Andrew

For as long as she can remember, Aben had an interest in handicraft. Besides other things she particularly enjoyed making jewelry using items such as beads and wires. Her entrepreneurial stint started as a young B.Sc. student in St.Joseph's College, Bangalore, where she set up stalls during college fests to sell her creations. Seeing the positive response she decided to take it up a little more seriously by helping destitute women through NGOs, training them to make such jewelry. A well-read all-rounder, Aben says she has also always had an interest in academics and a passion for teaching. And with a desire to study other areas of learning she pursued a Master's in Geography while continuing her activity with the NGOs. After completion of her studies she took up teaching in a school and even worked in the government for a while. She says at some point doing everything that you love doing all at once becomes unsustainable and you have to choose one and focus on it. So she decided to focus on her jewelry because, besides the uniqueness and the scope, she felt it helped her use her creativity to the optimum. She is now based in Mumbai and sells her products across the globe. She continues working with NGOs today while spending majority of her time planning her road ahead to scale up her business.


Kekhrieseto Michael

Michael was one of those teenager boys who would spend time fiddling with the insides of gadgets and electronic appliances for the sake of curiosity. Of course he did not know where that would take him then but it was one of those things you love doing without knowing why. During his later years as a commerce undergrad he upgraded his skills from basic wiring and started fiddling with PCB boards and became good at it. Friends and family would call him whenever they would have problems with their electronic gadgets. After his graduation he realized he could actually start a business in the field so he started by charging a fee for home service electronics repair. It did well so he decided to diversify and took computer language courses learning languages like html, C++ to help him with software. He then got into hardware retail and opened a store called Elision Computers in 2010. Recently he built a data management software for a library.


Inoto Kinimi

A boarding school student since kindergarten in St.John's School, Shillong, Inoto would sell eatables he would get from home to his friends for some more pocket money. He says the thrill was in the act of trading. The seeds of entrepreneurship were sown then but his parents wanted him to study science so he obediently went on to complete a B.Sc. in Zoology from Madras Christian College, Chennai. After that he decided he could not live with himself if he did not follow his heart so he convinced his parents about his dreams and plans and went to pursue an M.B.A. He then went to work with Ernst and Young for about two years to understand the dynamics and intricacies of how a company works. After he felt he gained enough experience he came home to start implementing his plans. He now owns a popular brand of packaged drinking water called Aiko. Inoto says his drive comes from the will to achieve total self-sustainability irrespective of socio-economic drawbacks of our society.


Anei Mero

Anie has the least formal education among the participants but probably the biggest heart. Initially rejected in the during the application process, he attended the first few sessions as a guest who could not participate in the competition. His resolve to attend all course sessions despite being only a "guest" for the chance to acquire knowledge and gain exposure, as he put it, impressed the team. So when one of the initial chosen participants decided to drop out Anie was brought in.

After finishing class 12 Anie could not continue his formal education but he would borrow books from friends and read all by himself. He confesses he even explored some books on Philosophy. He says his wish is to see boys and girls from underprivileged backgrounds study further than what he did. He has been running a hostel for students of a government college besides running a coaching centre for class 10 students with special focus on those without the motive to study. He teaches Mathematics and Science while two others teach other subjects.


Orenthung Ovung

Oren recollects how during Kindergarten, while other kids played with miniature kitchen tools, he made fake currency and clothes made out of paper and introduced trade into the role-play. During his college years he would set up food stalls during festivals besides making tee shirts and selling them for a profit. His expertise was also very often sought by his friends for fundraising events. Oren always knew he would not go the government job way and his love for language and literature made him pursue an M.Phil in Literature in the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. Realizing he had to chalk out a career and a means of income he then decided to work in a few startups in Hyderabad to really understand the dynamics and challenges of small new businesses. During that time he noticed the IT boom there and wanted to capitalize on it. In 2007, he started a foreign language training services firm called Maitrise Language Essentials Pvt. Ltd. to cater to IT professionals who had on-site duties and had to learn foreign languages for their work.

Despite several years of working in the lucrative corporate world his yearning to come home to start something was greater. He felt having a business at home would give him more opportunities to give back. In 2010 he, along with his business partner Among Anjo, started Touch Organization - an FMCG enterprise with the aim of helping sales of local products besides giving locals access to imported quality products.


Athem Hengna

At the age of 12 Athem and a friend made tamarind-flavored, home-made ice creams and sold them to several retail stores. She knew she wanted to follow the path to entrepreneurship rather than take up a conventional government job. After a B.A. in Political Science she worked in Dabur and HDFC Life Insurance for a few years before deciding to come home to start a business. She got into wholesale clothing business with just Rs.5000 at a small scale hand-picking clothes from Delhi to be sold to retailers in Nagaland. It did well so she started planning towards a more stable business and soon set up Runway - an affordable clothing retail store. Runway allows those who do not plan a full time business or cannot afford a store to sell items by renting a space in the store. The primary criteria is it should be items in a different category from the ones she sells. Athem says reading biographies of business people inspired her.


Inoto Nawang Khulu

Nawang's inclination towards business came from his enterprising mother who runs a handicraft business. From a young age he would help her in running daily operations. An alumnus of St.George's School, Mussoorie, he says being independent became a part of him since boarding school, to the point where after his college he refused to accept money from home in order to earn his own bread. After a B.Com Honours from Shri Ram College of Commerce he went to Mumbai working in media houses such as Primefocus which deals with post-production work for Bollywood besides others. His talent also took him to established media companies like UTV Bloomberg where he headed teams developing content for the channel. After 6 long years working in the organized industry he headed home to start something of his own. He wanted to capitalize on his creative side and noticing the gap he started Designstash - a visual communications agency along with a few business partners. Given the small size of the market they also diversified and went into printing. A very young company he says Designstash has tremendous plans of expansion.


Kele Yhoshu

As part of a unique group of creative individuals in a very niche area, Kele says he is excited about the future. Co-owner of a video production studio called Headhunters Entertainment, it has been a brilliant journey so far. They deal with postproduction work and animation for other production studios including vfx, 3d modeling, video editing, 3d animation and colour correction. They have started building up a client base not just in india but abroad. They have a strong team of five, all specializing in their respective fields.

In an area no Nagas have explored before, Kele feels the responsibility to be an example for the younger people to follow their hearts and work in fields where their interests lie. He says Nagas have exceptional creativity which should be harnessed and those who have it should not waste it pursuing conventional jobs for the sake of society's recognition.


Among Anjo

A student at Kodaikanal International School throughout, Among grew up unlike most Nagas - away from Nagaland. However, his roots always stayed firm and he knew he would be coming home eventually, he says. Like most people he was not sure about what he wanted to do till he entered college. He confesses at one point in school he even wanted to become a scientist because of his love for the subject. At the same time he never thought about a government job. It was after his schooling years that he finally decided to start a business of his own and pursued a BBA and then an MBA. After that he wanted some work experience but chose startups instead of big companies because he knew there was more to learn from small companies growing rapidly. While he was working in Bangalore he met a few friends during a holiday in Nagaland and conversations about scope of businesses became plans for a venture. Finally after four and a half years of working in the corporate world he decided it was the right time to come back and start a professionally-run organized business group. With all plans laid down he quit his job and with his business partner Oren, started Touch Organization with Starmart as their first venture. He says there is a tremendous need for young Nagas to work towards making our economy independent and sustainable.


Ayong Konyak

Always a socially-inclined person Ayong wanted to work for the people of Mon - her home. Mon being the northern-most district of Nagaland is a place very disconnected from the commercial areas of Kohima and Dimapur. An enterprising lady she had multiple interests and dabbled with each of them for a while. After college she would buy clothes from different parts of the country and bring them home to be sold at a profit. She also spends weekends in an orphanage helping kids with recreational activities. She also worked for the National Rural Health Mission for a few years with the thought that it was an opportunity to really use the government's schemes to help the people of Mon. She says those years were fulfilling because their work was a success. She soon left it because it required her to travel very often whereas she wanted to stay stable. So she decided to leave the government sector and get into business fulltime. She recently started selling flowers and plans to open an indigenous restaurant in Mon.


Mhachamo Kithan

Mhachamo recollects his schoolboy years when he would listen to his best friend talk passionately about business and the concept of earning money just with a good idea. Those conversations inspired him to apply his mind in selling hand-made greeting cards made by his creative friends during high school and also raising funds for various charity events.After his school Mhachamo went on to do his BBA and MBA from Christ College, Bangalore. He then worked with Ocwen Financial Corporation as a Financial Analyst for a year after which he decided to come home.

Like most others, his parents also pressurized him to apply for a government job and he did, since he had not planned any concrete business venture then. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because working for the National Bio-resource Mission he got the opportunity to travel to all corners of Nagaland which helped him notice the potential and the opportunities available for Nagas to capitalize on. Against the wishes of his parents and almost everyone he knew, he quit his job and decided to give all his time into business. Mhachamo has been running Travelzone - a travel and tours agency - for a few years now and he says there is not a day he regrets leaving his government job because the spontaneity, energy and excitement in running a business is priceless.

Important Dates


 
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Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Chief Mentor - The Entrepreneur

          

Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar is a Member of Parliament (RS) and an Entrepreneur

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