This promising Biratnagar-based startup is working to provide digital record keeping solutions to small businesses.
BY MANISHA BALAMI
Samir Phuyal’s father, who runs a cosmetic shop in Morang, one day, asked him to develop an app where he could record allthe credits of the customers. Tired of searching for bills and logbooks of credit transactions for hours whenever any customer came to pay, his father was looking for a digital record keeping solution that could be useful for small traders like him. Samir, who recently passed his higher secondary level, felt that there were many people out there who also faced this problem daily. And thus, started the journey of Bytecare Technology and the app Mero Karobar–Nepali Digital Khata.
Before starting the company, Samir used to work as a freelancer website and mobile app developer for local businesses. At a very young age of 16, he rose to national fame after becoming the winner of the Wai Wai Glocal Teen Hero 2019. While work was going satisfactorily, the need to issue bills and receipts to the customers to formalise the transactions gave him the impetus needed to establish a software development company. Hence, he registered Bytecare Technology a few months ago in 2020.
Large businesses can afford expensive accounting and record keeping software. But for smalls businesses, whose needs are different from big enterprises, acquiring advanced accounting systems is not possible and their transactions are also quite simple. However, many business owners find it difficult to search for bills and other papers due to the traditional record keeping system they use. Realising all the problems of the small businesses, Samir and his friend developed the app Mero Karobar-Nepali Digital Khata.
Samir invested Rs 200,000 as initial capital to start the company. All financeswere managed by himself from the money he had saved from his previous earnings from website development and digital marketing.
Mero Karobar is a first product of Bytecare Technology which allows customers to keep a record of all their transactions. “Targeting small and medium stores, this app allows shopkeepers to keep track of all their transactions in a secure and easy way,” says Phuyal.
“When my dad asked me to develop an app, we searched for similar types of apps. We found few Indian apps but they were difficult to use in the Nepal’s context. So, this also inspired us to develop a home-grown app,” he explains. He hopes that the app will help grocery and other small businesses to go paperless.
The app has been designed in such a way that general Nepalis can use it with ease. The language and date are also set in Nepali so as to facilitate the users. Customer’s name, phone number, transaction details and credit amount can be recorded in this app and the transaction remainder can be saved as well. “If someone has said that he/she will pay the dues in 10 days, then a reminder can be recorded in the app,” he says. In addition, daily, weekly, monthly or annual reports can also be obtained from the app. According to Samir, as the data of the business can be backed up and old accounts of customers can be tracked, the app helps users to know their overall business turnover.
Moreover, the app can be used in both online and offline modes. Samir says that after loading data offline, the data syncs after the mobile devices are connected to the internet which provides convenience to small traders who do not have continuous internet connectivity.
They have released the app under the subscription model. A user of the app gets a 30 day free trial and if they like the app and want to use it further, they have to subscribe to it either for six months or a year. A subscription for six months costsRs 1,250 and Rs 2,000 for a year.
Challenges and Opportunities
Bytecare Technology started its journey at a time when many startups working in the digital sphere had already shut down or were on the verge of closure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. For Samir and his partners, it was difficult meeting clients due to the months of lockdown. “However, as the restrictions eased, we launched the app and the situation improved a little,” he says. According to him, the company’s work did not stop even during the lockdown as tasks can be done online. Samir saw this as an opportunity.
Nonetheless, the company has a long way to go in front of different challenges and to realise its potential. For Samir and his team, the major challenge has been in terms of marketing and making people aware about using the solutions offered by the company. “Many people still prefer to keep a record of their business transactions in traditional ways. So, encouraging them to go digital is challenging,” he expresses. However, Samir says that they are trying to make people aware about their company and the benefits of the app.
“There are many small and medium store owners out there like my father who often face problems in keeping records properly. So, we have seen many potential customers,” he says.
Samir feels that the government has also become supportive to the startups lately. The government’s decision to provide a loan of up to Rs 5 million for startups at a minimum interest rate of two percent is encouraging for budding entrepreneurs like him. “It would be easier for people like us if this programme continues for a long time,” he opines.
Although it has only been about a month since the launch of the Mero Karobar app, Samir says that the response from the users has been incredible. At the time of writing this article, the app has been downloaded more than 2,000 times from the Google Playstore and there are more than 1,700 registered users. “We have around 100 to 200 daily active users,” he affirms.
The founders of the company have used social media and word of mouth as marketing tools and Samir says that the results have been worthwhile. They also receive many suggestions that help them make the app better. “Some of the users even thank me for creating such an app,” he shares excitedly. However, he says that there are still many areas to improve and will work on updating the features of the app.
Although the company is Morang-based, they have clients from around the country. “People from districts like Rupandehi and Tanahun are using our app,” he says, adding, “We are planning to expand our services to other parts of the country.”