Bishal Shrestha and Monsoon Bishwokarma love travelling. Whenever the two got some time off work, they would leave Kathmandu and travel to different places in Nepal. As they travelled the country, the two wanted to start a business that would resonate with them.
First came the idea to start a clothing business which soon shifted to jewellery but the two never reached a consensus.
“As outdoor enthusiasts, we always wanted our product to speak to us. So when we started exploring the idea of making hammocks, we were immediately sold by the idea,” says Shrestha.
While hammocks are not something that people usually buy off the top of their heads, the younger generation’s inclination towards the outdoors made the two start Yachu hammocks. These made-in-Nepal hammocks are light, easy to set up and have quickly become a favourite of many travellers both in Nepal and abroad.
Yachu now wants to continue to use this early success as a springboard and make more outdoor products that will resonate with all outdoor lovers like them.
But what makes Yachu hammocks so unique?
When one thinks of hammocks, one normally pictures those made of interlocked rope or fabrics. These hammocks, however, are either too heavy or too space consuming making it inconvenient to carry everywhere.
Wanting to change that, the two started to design one that was light and could fit in one’s backpack quite easily. After some research and development and testing, they have released one that weighs a mere 400 grams and is compact enough to rest in the grasp of a single hand.
“These are easy to set up too. And the carabiners along with the straps can support up to 1,000 kilograms. The hammocks are flexible and with longer straps, they can be hung anywhere,” says co-founder Rajan Pant who joined the two later on.
The hammock also comes with a planner inside, an additional encouragement for people to plan their travel.
“Instead of staying cooped up in Kathmandu and partying, we want to inspire individuals to venture out, explore, and connect with nature. We want to be the catalyst for change,” says Bishwokarma.
The founders do not want to travel adventures alone. They want to reach out to anyone who loves the outdoors. As Kathmandu is surrounded by hills, their target market is people who frequently venture out.
“We want to urge people to use our hammocks and take them to these hills and relax with friends. You need not hike. You can just drive to these places and relax away from the hustle and bustle,” says Bishwokarma.
The founders even add that people can even use Yachu hammocks in the comfort of their homes by setting them up either in their garden or on the terrace.
Perfecting the product
The road to making the perfect product, however, has not been an easy one. Yachu’s founders say to ensure it was the perfect travel product, they spent over 18 months in research and development.
“To make it ultralight we use rip-stop nylon fabric. The hammock can support at least 200 kilograms of weight and it is very durable,” says Pant.
Not wanting to compromise on quality, Yachu imports the fabric from China but the design and stitching are all done in Nepal using local craftspersons.
“We experimented with locally available products but because of their quality and inconsistencies we could not continue further,” say Bishwokarma.
Drawing on their past professional experiences, the team swiftly established the operational framework for Yachu hammocks. Shrestha’s background in e-commerce and offshore enterprises, coupled with Bishwokarma’s hospitality expertise, and Pant’s proficiency in interior decoration and product design, collectively contributed to their venture’s foundation.
Safety was another paramount concern for the team. Understanding that if the hammock is not set up properly it would ruin a user’s experience, they have even prepared a video on how to set it up and given other safety tips as well.
“We have conducted rigorous tests to assess strength and durability, all to ensure that customers have no reason to regret their purchase and can feel secure. While their usage might not always involve extreme circumstances, we hold the belief that our hammocks endure all the extremes,” says Pant.
The initial plan was to sell the product for under Rs 3,000. However, as the founders did not want to compromise on quality, they could not price it below Rs 5,000.
“People who use our product will understand why the price is justifiable,” says Bishwokarma.
Launched in September 2022, Yachu has sold about 500 hammocks so far and this is not limited to Kathmandu. The company have sold the hammocks across various cities in Nepal and also sold it in the US, UK, Canada, Japan and India.
The team has invested a lot of their time and money into developing the products the response from their customers has given them added motivation to continue innovating the product.
As they plan to introduce their next batch of hammocks, they share the new hammocks will have vibrant colours and reinforced kits. Their in-house team of seven members and creatives based in different parts of the country are continuously experimenting.
But, for the next year, Yachu is planning to experiment with other products and expand its range. The team wants to create more products that will be useful for travellers and outdoor enthusiasts. Increasing their products’ availability, they eventually also want to start exporting their creations.
Going beyond hammocks, Bishwokarma and Pant express their aspirations for a significantly greater vision.
“The startup aims to raise awareness about eco-tourism and cleanliness drive,” says Pant.
Furthermore, Bishwokarma elaborates that they are driven by a desire to raise awareness about the responsibility of individuals who explore nature to ensure they carry back any waste they brought along with them.
“The way people leave a mess in the campsites is disheartening. We hope our awareness drive can stop that,” says Bishwokarma.
The name Yachu itself means clean and pure in Nepal Bhasa. Named after Shrestha’s grandmother, the team wants to keep that in mind as they hope to create a connection between humanity and the world around them.
“We know we have a bigger purpose and will work hard to attain it,” says Bishwokarma.