KATHMANDU: After acquiring an MBA degree from the University of Bedfordshire in the UK, Ashutosh Shrestha returned to Nepal and joined Kumari Bank as an intern. However, he soon quit because he found the job mundane, and then worked at Beed, a portfolio management company, for two years. But he found his true calling when he met his schoolmate Sanjay Gupta at a party.
Shrestha, who claims to be an avid party lover, says he was not too impressed with the parties in Kathmandu. When he met like-minded Gupta, the two put their heads together to set up an entertainment and event management company that would set a new benchmark in the country. It was with this idea that they established Vootoo Entertainment Pvt Ltd in May 2011.Stating that ‘Vootoo’ is a newari word meaning ‘cooking stove’, Shrestha informs, “We came up with the name to represent an organisational image of cooking new ideas.” Sanjay Gupta, radio jockey in Radio Kantipur and presenter in Nepal Television 2, claims, “Amalgamating my media background and good public relations and Ashutosh’s management skills and ideas, we have managed to come up with events that are fresh and innovative.” Crediting their success to coordination and passion, he states that operating an entertainment company in Nepali society is a big challenge, as there is a dearth of support on all fronts.Vootoo’s first pre launch party was at Vintage Pub and Bar, Durbar Marg. Shrestha says, “Though it was a low profile event, it turned out to be a huge success.” Each subsequent Vootoo event has reportedly been unique, as the managers try to bring in new ideas, talents and artists from different walks of life to offer their clients the best options. Having organised 11 events and a charity show, the duo claim that they have managed to make a brand name out of Vootoo within a year of its establishment.
Revealing their business mantra, Shrestha says, “We don’t do different things, we just present things differently.” They have organised events like Vootghar, Reincarnation, Elements, Grease, and Art Beat with different themes, among which Elements — an English New Year’s party — was the biggest hit. ‘Reincarnation — New you, hair and make-up by Miki Tanaka’ was another successful event that took place at Moksh, Jhamsikhel.Both of them agree that like every other company, they face challenges too — lack of support and good venues, low confidence among sponsors, as well as unfavourable rules and regulations. “Stereotypical and negative mentality towards late-night parties, uncontrolled alcohol and stringent closing time imposed by police have hampered business, besides directly impacting employment and revenue collection,” says Gupta. Shrestha, who is also the proprietor of Vootoo Restaurant located at Lazimpat, cites, “There is no justification for clamping down on businesses to shut their doors before midnight. If the time is extended till 2:00 am, it would not only help
local restaurants and entertainment businesses but also foster tourism.”The two partners are now busy preparing for a grand anniversary show — ‘Vootoo’d’, as well as a charity show called ‘I Love Animals’, the proceeds of which will go to Animal Welfare Society Nepal.