Avinash Sanap

“As the eldest in the family, I was the ‘expectation’ child. I always had to score 90%, and most times, I managed to achieve that. After high school, my father wanted me to become a doctor, but somehow I landed in mechanical engineering. Explaining it to him became difficult, but I could convince him. After graduation, I worked for Reliance, and my first international visit was to Bhutan. Before coming, I did my research. In 2010, the books and the internet called Bhutan one of the world’s poorest countries. However, my views changed when I landed in Paro. The beauty of this country had me sold. I worked in the Middle East for the next five or so years. Finally, in 2017, Druk Smart, an IT company in Bhutan, was conceived. For years, I was enjoying a life of travel and luxurious hotel stays, and now I had to give them all up.

I first gathered my savings and divided them into three; for my family, home loans, and the company. However, the five lakhs for the company ran out in the first six months. My Bhutanese partner and I worked day and night, and after eight months, we secured our first project from BPC for 4.8 million. The very next day, I suffered a heart attack and got hospitalised. This close call with death shook me, and I questioned every decision I made. I had given up a well-paying career and left my family behind to build a company. My daughter was a year and a half old, and my wife was still on maternity leave. I had lost coordination in my body and couldn’t type for weeks.

I went back to Maharastra to live with my family and slowly recovered, but the fear of ‘losing it all’ kept bugging me. Finally, after two weeks, I gathered all my strengths and returned. My family, especially my wife, understood and supported me.
I was back in Bhutan and celebrated my Diwali with colleagues in Wangdue. After the incident, I became more practical and realistic and saw my work differently. However, some people judged and said that I had taken too much stress with work and even blamed my family for putting the tension which led to my heart attack–none of that was true.

I was depressed but quickly recovered. Finally, we hit our first success after a year of starting the company. Today, Druk Smart is five years old, and we are not stopping.
Doing business in Bhutan was hard; the government mandated that we achieve a 70 % export and bring in business from outside. Challenging at first, we slowly made it work to our advantage; by bringing in foreign projects from the middle east to create employment for Bhutanese professionals.

At a conference in Thimphu, I met a group of visiting Indian businessmen who thought I was like them. Upon finding out that I was 50% owner of a Bhutanese IT company, they laughed and commented that there are no markets in Bhutan. However, I told them that Bhutan has a strong workforce with a young population, and I was proud that our company aims to harvest that manpower to provide jobs and boost the economy.”
#humanstory #humansofthimphu

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