Digital Gurkha is an online platform where a user can learn any content in a structured and organized way. Users can track their progress, review the resources and have access to the content for a lifetime.
June 2022 marks the 5th year of the return of Ullekh Niraula to Nepal. Niraula is the CEO of Digital Gurkha, an Edutech company that comprises team members who are the embodiment of knowledge and value-driven individuals.
Previously, he had spent his 20s in America, pursuing physics as his major with a 100% scholarship. However, young Niraula, filled with zest, shifted his focus on business, ordering products from Pakistan and selling on Amazon. The business took off well, but after some time, he left America and went to India to continue his studies, this time going for a degree in software engineering.
After returning to Nepal, he jumped right off into the field he admired the most: Digital Marketing. Digital Gurkha was established in 2017, with a vision to be the best digital marketing agency in Nepal. Working alongside his sister, Niraula worked relentlessly well and provided services to top companies like Hard Rock Cafe, Vianet, Machhapuchhre Bank, and also Hongshi Cement.
However, after a span of 3 years, the CEO of Digital Gurkha found himself in a state where he no longer enjoyed what he did. “The reason I started a digital marketing agency was that I knew how it worked and that was the only business I knew. Despite the success, this is not the business I want for 10- 20 years,” he said. The man who always thrives on doing what he loves found himself in a dilemma.
This feeling of being dubious gave him an idea of transitioning his agency into an e-learning platform. An e-learning platform is an online platform where a user can learn any content in a structured and organized way. Users can track their progress, review the resources and have access to the content for a lifetime.
“The education system in Nepal is expensive. What if I am someone who wants to learn some course, for example coding, in a month at a cheaper price? Nepal is also gradually developing in the IT sector and we want to provide better learning experience at an affordable rate”, he said. This was the idea behind his company and thus, began the birth of Digital Gurkha Academy.
Digital Gurkha Academy
The CEO of Digital Gurkha gathered a team and worked on their new project of delivering self-paced courses. Self-paced courses are online courses that allow students to set their schedule and deadlines as they move through the content at their own pace.
In total, there are 46 courses related to personal finance, digital marketing, designing, technical analysis, violin, guitar, photoshop, video editing and many more. The courses range from 30 minutes up to 6 hours as well. Each video includes free templates, recorded videos, and resources for the learners. Amongst these courses, the most liked course is the Photoshop course by the instructor Ashwin Neupane. This course has 540 students enrolled and has a rating of 3.7. “Mostly young adults who love editing and exploring their creativity in Photoshop loved this course”, he added.
Previously, the course was available at Rs 1,000- Rs 2,000. The students were enrolling but at a lower rate than expected. Then, during the Holi Campaign, the Digital Gurkha team lowered the price of the course to Rs. 199- Rs.499. The responses were overwhelming, with more students enrolling every day. Then, this change in price was a major factor that changed the outlook of learners.
Capital and Investors
Digital Gurkha started in 2017 with a seed capital of zero. They started from a single room and worked with two clients. Later on, Ullekh Niraula applied for a loan and injected the capital for the workspace and sustainability of the company. DG Investment Firm is above Digital Gurkha and has full ownership of Digital Gurkha.
In total Rs 5 million was invested in DG investment firm and with the same investment amount Digital Gurkha Academy is operated.
In total, there are 7 investors who are from the Digital Gurkha Investment Firm. “All of our partners are our investors. We want to grow our own company as an investing company and invest in different products in the upcoming years,” Niraula shared with the New Business Age.
Every start-ups, be it small or large scale, has challenges of its own. The young CEO of Digital Gurkha shared his side of challenges and the lesson learnt with the New Business Age. When asked about the challenges he faced during the initial stage of launching the courses, he said, “The biggest challenge was the mindset. Before starting, we were confident of the market and had high hopes for our courses. However, we slowly realized that this is a new product, and it takes time for the market to adapt to the new concept of the business”.
A man who learns from his mistakes and carries the lessons all his life, Niraula said that no matter how much research and time you put in marketing and advertising, the market takes time to get ready for it.
Likewise, another lesson he has learnt from this journey is sustainability of a company. “Previously, when we were building for investment. Let us increase the numbers in terms of funds, investments and courses. That was the thought process. After talking to venture capitalists, I realized that there are many constraints with this ecosystem. Capital availability is difficult in the Nepali market, especially in tech related companies. Globally, the ed-tech startups are facing difficulties and are described as unsustainable. Therefore, now we have decided to work on sustainability to build the company slowly, and create a 10-year plan and work sustainably”, he added.
What makes Digital Gurkha Academy Stand Out ?
Digital Gurkha Academy is an e-learning platform working especially for skill-based industries. The creator of Digital Gurkha described his ed-tech company as an up-scaling platform, which provides all forms of skill development through various mediums. “Our courses are available from Rs200 and Rs30,000 as well. The Academy provides online courses, live sessions and physical classes as well. This diverse range of choice for learners is one of the many factors that makes Digital Gurkha Academy stand out from its competitors.
Additionally, Ullekh also added his vision for the company, which explains how the DG Academy differs from the other platforms. “We are more focused on building a strong community by providing free courses, webinars, and events for our users.”
From 2017 till date, Digital Gurkha has successfully met its goals. In the initial stage, the revenue they generated was around Rs 300,000 every year. However, because of Covid-19, the flow of revenue generated was stagnant. On the bright side, Niraula shared that in terms of different aspects like building a strong community and growing it, they hit the mark. “We have around 18,000 users on our platform and have built a strong community. I feel happy to say that we have scaled in this matter and will continue to grow our community”, he shared.
Digital Gurkha has around 20 team members, out of which seven are board members. There are different department like video, content creation, sales, marketing and operation.
Niraula has big plans for Digital Gurkha Academy. “We will work on up-scaling our company and deliver more skill-based content to our users. Ed-tech is going to be a huge industry in the next 10 years and our team will work relentlessly to meet the expectation of the learners”, the CEO of Digital Gurkha added.