An app maker is trying to make a difference for both customers and businesses using smart technology.
--BY NIKEETA GAUTAM
Imagine yourself in a cafe or a restaurant. After being seated, you see a mobile number you are supposed to dial to get the Wi-Fi password and menu. You dial 9801225544 as instructed. The call gets rejected but after a few seconds you receive an SMS which has the Wi-Fi password and a special menu for the day. Isn't that more convenient than summoning an attendant or waiter to get such information?
Of course it is. The 'missed call' experience would definitely be new and interesting and the good thing is it has already started in some restaurants and cafes of the capital city. For example, all outlets of the Red Mud Coffee have this service.
"Usually when we go to a restaurant, we have to call an attendant two or three times to get the Wi-Fi password, menu and other stuffs. But if we can get our orders via a 'missed call' without having to wait for the attendant, that would certainly be a cool experience for the customer as well as the service provider," shares Shaswotsher Adhikari, co-founder of Vimvox Lab, which has introduced the country's first toll free 'missed call' service platform, ek Ghanti.
ek Ghanti and business growth
"We are already familiar with the SMS platforms which ask us to send an SMS to a certain number and get the required information. But with ek Ghanti, you don't need to spend your money on SMSes to get such information," says Adhikari.
ek Ghanti is meant not just for cafes and restaurants but also for banks, TV shows, youtube videos, ecommerce and retails, among others. For example, the customers of a bank can get an automated SMS which includes their mini-statements, balance reports or any other such information just by dialing a number. There are three products under ek Ghanti - ek Ghanti Customer Analaytics Tool (CAT), ek Ghanti Go and ek Ghanti Miscalls.
“Every business loves their customers and wants them to use their services regularly. But it is difficult to analyse and understand the behaviours of the customers,” shares Adhikari, claiming that the solution to this has been introduced by the ek Ghanti CAT which is one of a kind Customer Analytics Tool which helps to engage with, reach and bring back customers. Through the CAT, businesses will be able to get the records of their regular clients, buyers, viewers and consumers. They can track the frequency of visits by their customers, list the returning customers and check the real time traffic.
“Once you have your customer database, you will be able to create SMS campaigns, feed data into the sales team, integrate with current Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Business Intelligence (BI) tool or run a deep, targeted social media ads,” he says.
Likewise, ek Ghanti Miscalls is a platform which is customisable for any business organisation. "Whether big businesses or startups – they have their own SMS services and what we do through ek Ghanti Miscall is give them the service and they can integrate our service to any other software of their choice," shares Adhikari.
Similarly, ek Ghanti Go is solely a publicly designed 'missed call' platform which shares the information on gold prices, stock prices, horoscopes, dates for vaccination or any public announcement via a message with the trigger of a 'missed call' to the respected numbers.
The company has been organising demos for the last one year and has been experimenting with Singhadurbar Television show and startups such as Red Mud Coffee and Nepzy. Vimvox lab plans to launch ek Ghanti CAT and ek Ghanti Go in May 2017. ek Ghanti Miscalls is already being used by some banks and other institutions.
Idea behind ek Ghanti
"It was a few years back, while watching news on a Nepali television, that my dad asked me to send an SMS vote to the television to give a 'yes' or 'no' answer to a certain question. I thought about the Indian news channels which receive such votes through missed calls," Adhikari recalls, "It was then that I started brainstorming ideas on the concept because it was not necessary to use the customers' money to get their views on public issues. I developed a product after six months and named it 'ek Ghanti'."
Adhikari's claims his products can be used to access information from anywhere in the country where there is mobile phone service. "The Miscall service is affordable as almost everyone has a mobile today. And everyone knows how to give a missed call. So, it can be useful for the people in the villages as well," he says.
ek Ghanti CAT meanwhile aims to help businesses to keep their customers to themselves. Adhikari says though customer analysis is a key part of business, businesses in Nepal don't attach any priority to tracking and analysing their customers who always have the choice to shift from one service to another service. He adds that CAT enables businesses to analyse their customers and treat them in a special way so that they stick to the company's services or products. "After working on pricing for about a year, we decided to fix it at Rs 3,000 per month which is definitely affordable. Besides the monthly charge, there are no other costs as it takes nothing to give a missed call. So, we believe that people will definitely like our service," hopes Adhikari.
Starting the Startup
The two founders of ek Ghanti, Adhikari and Pradeep Kumar Khadka, respectively from Dhading and Gulmi, had a heart for IT since their student lives. Passion was the main driving factor for them who grew up where computers were not easily accessible.
Adhikari who is in his late 20's is a Computer Engineering Undergraduate from Pokhara University has seven years of working experience in the IT sector. He has collaborated in building half-a-dozen local and foreign tech startup products like e-Remit, Squaddraft, Grepsr and Sodhpuch.com.
Similarly, his business partner Khadka did his graduation in Computer Applications and Software(MCA) from Kumaon University , India and has eight years of experience in Internet Based Engines Development, Software Solutions, Software Development and Product Scaling. He has worked at various multinational companies in India and Nepal which includes Omnikode Technologies, Bookmundi.com and UXCam.
A risk-taker, go-getter and eager-beaver, Adhikari started developing products since his college days and has failed many times. Mero Sano Katha, an online story telling platform, was his first product which he ran as a part of his college assignment. Another product 'Batti Aayo' which he developed 2-3 years later also incurred loss after the reduction of power cut. “From my failures, I realised that it is equally necessary to think about monetisation rather than just randomly building a product,”
Coming from a technical background, both the founders had very little idea about managing a business when they started Vimvox lab. "The company started with an initial investment of Rs 500,000 and we have been adding the capital regularly," he shares. Vimvox Lab which started in December, 2015 does product design, concept building, wireframes, UX Research and UI design for web platforms and mobile (android/iOS) with a series of quality testing. The company also handles some international projects such as looking after the social media contents for Huggies in Australia.
According to Adhikari, starting ek Ghanti was challenging as the hardware was made by themselves. Being a telecom business, the legal compliance was quite difficult and it was hard to get it verified by the Nepal Telecom Authority.
The team and product promotion
Vimvox has a team of eight tech-crazy youths including the two founders. "It is not easy for us to hire the highly skilled developers as they are hard to find and pretty expensive as well. Due to this, we have been hiring college students and grooming them," sahres Adhikari. According to him, the company is always looking for someone who is more serious than the average developer. "We hire interns and review their performance regularly," he says, "We always push them to the edge for their growth," Adhikari expresses. The vibrant team encourages each other to attend crash courses and get updated.
Currently, ek Ghanti is not into vigorous promotions. "We are planning to promote CAT by linking up with some companies including Red Mud. We will energetically promote our products on the social media once we are ready to launch them. After social media, our targets will be cinemas." He shares that the market response has been very good so far. "We have a tie-up with the Singhdurbar TV Show. In three episodes, we served around 10,000 missed calls and SMSes. The most amazing thing was even Nepalis in Cuba were giving missed calls to subscribe to and get information on the show time," he says. He shares that the waiters at Red Mud outlets are more excited about the service.
Five years down the line, says Adhikari, ek Ghanti envisions to expand its sevices across Nepal. "There are Youtube subscribers. Now you can have GSM subscribers as well. We look forward to achieving a huge success in the future," says Adhikari.