--By Akhilesh Tripathi
The startup scene in Nepal has changed significantly over the last five–seven years, with new and young entrepreneurs coming up with innovative ideas every year. Today, though there is no official data, the number of successful startups in Nepal is estimated to be above 50. These are the companies that are said to be running in good profit. Over this period, a young Nepali startup ecosystem has been in the making, though it is still incomplete due to the absence of venture capitals in the ecosystem. With most of the successful startups belonging to the IT sector, the future of the Nepali startup industry looks promising.
“The Nepali startup scene is heading slowly but surely in a good direction,” thinks Mark Sears, CEO of CloudFactory, one of the most successful Nepali startups. Bidhyabaridhi Sigdel, Investment Director at Dolma Impact Fund, shares similar views. “Now we are seeing new and unique businesses, which involve a brilliant choice of timing and products,” he says.
It’s not just startups like CloudFactory and F1Soft which are doing quite well, nationally as well as internationally. There are others too. For example, Grepsr, a company specializing in web crawling service. The company has international clients such as The Boston Consulting Group, GE Capital, and Target, and is doing very well in their third year. Subrat Basnet, one of the co-founders of the company emphasizes on the massive opportunity for tech entrepreneurs in Nepal to make an impact on a global scale. “With the growth of local talent, low risk investment and low operational cost, among other things, Nepali tech entrepreneurs can really compete in the global market if they have great ideas and the right marketing,” he says.
11Beep is another up-and-coming startup from Nepal. It has been trying to build an anonymous mobile social network. It’s CEO Bimal Maharjan who is an active participant at startup events around Kathmandu and has even has flown to Italy for a four-month bootcamp called TechPeaks—The People Accelerator, feels the excitement and challenges of working on an idea alongside other entrepreneurs, designers and hackers.
Another idea which was developed in Nepal and has gained some ground locally with aggressive plans to expand internationally is CashOnAd, a mobile advertising platform that is working to revolutionize the advertising world. The fact that CashOnAd’s android app on Google Play has already been installed in more than 100,000 devices shows their success in a comparatively short period. With the mobilization of local talent and the right growth strategy, CashOnAd has the potential to be very scalable and profitable in a short period.
Innovative companies such as Grepsr, 11Beep and CashOnAd are pioneering a new era of tech entrepreneurship in Nepal. They are dreaming big and thinking of conducting business beyond the borders of Nepal and competing globally. There are also other tech companies making their presence felt in the domestic market as well as chasing the international market.
“Many more innovative ideas are surfacing at events like StartupWeekend, GDG Meetups, Hackathons, Mobile Social Networking, Tedx , BarCamp, Mapthaons.
Even Incubators like Biruwa Ventures and communities for open source and developers is growing,” says Amit Agrawal of Janaki Technologies, “Now the vision is crossing the borders and soon we will see kickass startups from the Himalayas, that will rock the world.”
Government’s Startup Fund
Lately, it seems that the government has understood the importance of promoting entrepreneurship in the country. The latest national budget has announced a Startup Fund of Rs 500 million. While making his budget speech, Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat said that this Fund, which is yet to take shape, will help cultivate the culture of entrepreneurship and promote fresh ideas by bankrolling promising startups. The government expects the private sector and NRNs, too, to contribute to this seed fund, according to officials at the Department of Industry.
Pashupati Murarka, senior vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), thinks that the criteria and working procedure of the Fund should be established at the earliest possible to make the allotted resources useful. “Though the seed amount is not large, the initiative is good. The government now needs to work out an implementation plan as soon as possible,” said Murarka, adding that the private sector can decide how to support the programme once there is clarity about the working modality.
“It has already been four months since the government announced the Startup Fund through the national budget. Now, the government should focus on the implementation aspect of the Fund without any delay,” advises Hari Bhakta Sharma, senior vice president of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI).
Besides the Startup Fund, the government has been running a Business Incubation Programme (BIP) under the Department of Cottage and Small Industries (DoCSI). The BIP which has been running for the last eight years is targeted at supporting startup enterprises. “BIP has been trying to create a favourable environment for innovative and aspiring entrepreneurs. This includes providing physical facilities and mentorship services on various aspects of management and production such as productivity enhancement, quality management, accounting, marketing and intellectual property rights,” says Pawan Kumar Timalsena, director at DoCSI.
Startups in Nepal face some common challenges in terms of taking their products international and growing the brand. The most obvious challenge is financial. Startups don’t get loans without collaterals from the banks. Likewise, angel investors are very few and far between. So, most startups are forced to survive on bootstrapping. Thus, finance is the most difficult problem that people face in Nepal to start a startup. There are no investors willing to invest in startups, according to industry insiders.
If an idea or product solves a problem and provides value, the target customers need to be aware of the product or service. International customers can be reached through Google AdWords, Facebook ads, advertisements in relevant platforms, among other ways. But all this needs funding. Financial leverage is necessary for this, and the company should have adequate capital to properly market the product or service. This is one area where most of the Nepali startups are lagging behind.
“In most cases, finding investors for ideas or early stage ventures is extremely challenging. Therefore, we recommend that entrepreneurs build some sort of track record before approaching investors,” says Vidhan Rana, founder-managing partner of Biruwa Ventures.
The risk-averse culture in Nepal has led to less competition among the startups than in other parts of the world. This lack of overall competition has hurt the start up ecosystem in terms of quality, valuations, and market-building. But the industry is growing, though slowly, say the industry insiders.
Another challenge is talent. Nepal has many colleges from where thousands of students are graduating every year. However, tech companies have a hard time finding the right talent when necessary. “While there are many young talented people in Nepal, there are few senior, experienced engineers and managers,” shares Sears.
Publicity is another challenge for the Nepali startups. To expand globally, Nepali startups need a network or presence outside of Nepal. Getting covered by popular tech blogs, websites, international media etc. could help create awareness of Nepal-based companies. In this context, events like Startup Weekend Kathmandu platform is a good one. At such events, innovative ideas can get some initial traction through its wide network and reach.
Starting up a startup is another major challenge. Though some initiatives have been taken to provide funding for startups which have survived at least for a couple of years or more, startups do not get financial help from banks or other similar institutions at their initial stage. In simple words, there are no institutions to provide seed capital to startups.
“The ecosystem here carries a general feeling that the startups do not know anything about business. Whereas, in advanced markets, startups are received in a positive connotation,” observes Bibhusan Bista, CEO of Young Innovations, a Nepali tech startup, which has been helping new startups by organizing startup events like “Hackathon” among others.
IFC’s Business Oxygen (BO2)
BO2 is a USD 14 million SME venture fund established in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC), Bank of Kathmandu and Beed Management. It was established in 2012 to provide risk capital to Small and Medium Enterprises in Nepal through structured equity and quasi-equity investments. It specializes in providing finance to SMEs that might be ignored by BFIs, or cannot access finance from BFIs due to a lack of collateral. BO2 looks for promising entrepreneurs who have worked on good business ideas and show a flair for entrepreneurship.
Companies may qualify for BO2 if they satisfy any two of the three criteria, namely: less than 50 staff, total assets below Rs 250 million and total annual turnover below Rs 250 million. In addition to funding, BO2 provides advisory services to build the capacities of small and medium enterprises to reach the next level.
Who can qualify for investment?
BO2 concentrates on small entrepreneurs who want to take the step up to the next level. We are looking for SMEs in the growth stage with a history of profitable performance and potential for creating value for investors in the time period of the investment. Entrepreneurs should keep in mind the following points when considering funding from BO2:
• This is not 'free' or 'subsidized' money.
• The business or its owners should not be blacklisted. Preferably the company should not have bank loans, or if it does, then it should be repayable with the investment amount.
• The company should be registered in the CRO as a public limited or a private limited company.
•Since BO2 is looking at growth stage companies for investment, the company should have been in business for at least 2 years. If under 2 years then the owners should have been involved in the same sector for more than 2 years.
• BO2's investment will be utilized for the purpose of increasing top or bottom line.
BO2 investment is only for a period of four years, which may be extended by a maximum of one year. At the end of the investment period BO2 will exit the investment by selling its shares in the company, back to the original owners at a predetermined value. BO2provides investment in nine sectors: Manufacturing, Energy Based, Agro and Forest Based, Tourism, Trading, IT and Communication, service industries, construction and infrastructure, and realty.
Focus on the Global Tech Map
“Tech entrepreneurs are becoming more ambitious, focused on putting Nepal on the tech map, despite the challenges in taking their product into the global market. Soon, it would not be surprising to hear of big ideas from Nepal making a global impact,” says Rana. He advises those who want to start a startup to focus on doing branding well, having a unique offering, scalable business model, global thinking, flat hierarchy with a good working culture, and getting inspired by what’s happening globally.
With quality product and right expansion strategy, a handful of tech companies from Nepal are venturing into the global stage and starting to make an impact. Though challenges come with the territory, Nepal’s tech companies have a remarkable opportunity to take a bite out of the global tech scene.
Subrat of Grespr believes that Nepal can be put on the tech map. “But to put Nepal on the global tech map, we need more companies from Nepal like CloudFactory, F1Soft, Janaki Technologies and Grepsr, and an ecosystem that builds and nurtures quality startups,” he says.
Industry insiders believe that Nepalis are very capable of innovative work. But the reality on the ground is that Nepal doesn't seem to have good homegrown startups. There is foreign involvement in most of the leading startups from Nepal. Most of the tech startups that do exist are happy doing outsourcing jobs which might not be a sustainable solution for development of IT in Nepal. What could be the reason?
Niranjan Bom Malla, founder of Vidinterest.com says, “Based on my experience, there are two big problems that we have in our country right now. One, the Nepali culture of investment, very few angel investors - for most of them, IT startup is not the 1st choice. They think they have better places to invest in other sectors. Two, most of the foreign investors are not comfortable investing in our country, because of our political and financial situation. Trust me, I had talks with more than 100 angel investors over the last two years.”
Experts also believe that startup businesses should always focus on creating a strong team to sustain their growth. “Without a strong team, even businesses with strong potential are at the risk of failure,” observes Rana.
Bista of Young Innovations believes that Nepali startups should come up with new ideas of business rather than copying successful global products and trends for sustainability in the long run.
Janaki Technology: Building Acclaimed Software
Janaki Technology is a software product company well known for its SMS based service, Sparrow SMS and it’s much acclaimed application Picovico. Founded in 2007 as a normal web application and outsourcing company, it entered the Nepal SMS Value Added Service (VAS) Market in 2010. It harnessed its experience of catering to the software needs of its national and multinational clients and built ‘Sparrow SMS’in 2010 as a platform to facilitatevarious SMS based services.
SMS services and VAS was not a new thing in Nepal by then, “however, we were unique in our implementation and use of latest technology. Our strong technical team worked hard to make it better than other existing SMS services,” Amit Agrawal, CEO of the company says while elaborating on the success mantra of the service.
The company served multinational clients inside and outside the country and Sparrow SMS has received national and international awards. “We are still focusing on innovating our products and there is a long way to go,” Agrawal said.
In 2011 the company rolled out Picovico, an application to convert photos into video. The product was selected for seed funding in 2011 by ‘the Morpheus Ventures’ India. A year later, the Chile Government selected it for "StartupChile" programme awarding it equity free funding of 40,000 USD.
Agrawal shares that the company focused on research and development for making the products and therefore remained in loss during its initial years. But since than the company has been in profit and presently its annual growth rate has been between 15 to 20%.
Reflecting on challenges that the company faced as a startup, Agrawal shares that they also went through common problems faced other businesses in Nepal like load-shedding, delayed and multi-layered government processes, shortage of talented workforce and unfriendly business policies. “Not having proper startup-ecosystem in the country was another big problem, when we started,” he said. “Lack of industry support from government, angel investors and startup accelerators along with unclear laws about IT industry and small market size are other major problems especially for Nepali tech companies,” he shared. The company has gained substantial popularity among local clients and is presently doing market research to expand its reach beyond Nepal, Agrawal said adding that the company is working on pushing Picovico in the global market, especiallyin Europe and America. (By Upashana Neupane)
Himalayan Rabbit Farm: A Social Start-up
Ujjwal Chapagain, managing director of The Himalayan Rabbit Farm took up the risk of leaving a secure job and entering into an unchartered business terrain of commercial rabbit meat production. Such a business is still little known about across the country. When Chapagain thought of it as a business venture, he was questioned more than assured to take the risk. But he succeeded.
He thought that a small risk taken could help in the sectorial as well as his personal growth. In the very beginning, he had decided his business venture will be a social enterprise rather than a purely commercial. Established in 2012, the venture has provided 100 small farmers with an extra source of income in the form ofrabbit farming.Along with that six farmers have been producing rabbits on a larger scale, following the footsteps and guidelines of Chapagain.
Chapagain was a jobholder in the non-governmental sector. He left the job and invested all his savings in starting up an organic vegetable shop at Jhamsikhel and an integrated farm in Bhaktapur in partnership with some friends. Unfortunately, the project did not succeed, the cause of which he alludes to lack of teamwork with his business partners. After this, he found himself at the crossroads forced to choose between doing business and reverting to being a jobholder. He decided to stay.
He explored various business prospects and finally decided to start rabbit farming. He took the decision after figuring out that rabbit meat had high demand in the market, as it had remained unnoticed as a livestock farming option and therefore had no substantial competitors. Besides that, another major reason, which attracted his attention, was the fact that rabbit meat is considered to be healthy food and as people were being oriented towards healthy meat options, he thought that he could cater to this consumer sentiment.
After finalizing his new business idea, Chapagain faced the problem of capital shortage. As he had spent all his savings in the previous venture, the only option left to him was borrowing from a bank. Considering the failure of his earlier business venture, it was hard to convince family members to put up family land as collateral for acquiring bank loan for his new venture. He convinced them and he acquired a bank loan and started rabbit farming in partnership.
The company has around 500 rabbits at its rabbit farm in Balambu, Kathmandu. For breeding, there are around 100 females. It is planning to upgrade the existing breeding centre into a modern one for breeding high yielding rabbit breeds. Presently, it procures 300 to 400 kilograms of rabbit meat every month from farmers situated in different parts of the country. Chapagain says that this quantity is consumed in the market, which primarily consists of hotels and restaurants.
Within two years, Himalayan Rabbit Farm has succeeded to put rabbit meat as an option on menus. The success stems from the fact that people, who have tasted it, have loved it. Chapagain feels that interest towards the meat has been growing and he has been continuously working to boost it. To increase customer attraction and establish rabbit meat eating culture, the company had provided free tasting samples to visitors of Food, Drinks and Hospitality Exhibition held in September this year.The company has been working on innovating rabbit meat dishes in association with Nepal Academy of Tourism and Hotel Management (NATHM), so that hotels and restaurants could replicate them.
On the social side, Chapagain has been constantly working with local farmers to help them in rearing rabbits and thereby generating additional household income. The company provides training on rabbit keeping, managing and shade building for rabbit farming to farmer, among other support.
As of now, farmers in Mayagdi, Rasuwa, Sindhuli, Dolakha, Nawalparas and Kathmandu have taken up rabbit farming. He says that famers from other areas have been also showing interests.
In the past two years, Chapagain has made a huge leap in introducing a totally new area to livestock farming in Nepal and now he wishes to establish rabbit farming as a national programme, similar to that of pig, goat and poultry farming. Along with this he wishes to make rabbit meat easily available in the market for purchase. To this end he has plans up his sleeves to set up outlets for selling rabbit meat products in places with higher market volume.
(By Gaurav Aryal)
Selling the Innovation
Madhukar KC, founder of Matribhumi Urja Pvt Ltd invented a fuel-efficient wood fire stove that is being commercially developed. Recently, he has designed eight different burners and presented them to the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre, as requested. These designs include skewer stove, high-altitude stove, portable stove and bio-gas stove among others for household and commercial use.
CB Urja Pvt Ltd has been granted the production and marketing rights for the wood fireportable stovesKC innovated. It started production since mid-May 2014 from its Balaju Industrial Estate based factory.
The government has recently decided to provide five ropanis of land in Chitwan to set up a factory produce burners at a larger scale, KC informed. He is optimistic that the decision would help to develop his venture. His journey so far has been challenging, especially during the research stage, as he had to personally finance his research and development works. Sharing his experience, KC complains of banks and financial institution’s unwillingness to take intellectual property as collateral for providing loans. In lack of loans, he has been managing investments with the profit earned by selling the products.
KC, originally a resident of Pyuthan had moved to Chitwan and it is where he first introduced the product to the public. The first prototype of woodfire stove was developed after a long series of trial and errors on coal stove. A successful prototype was developed in the 33rd attempt. For over 13 years he has been devoting all his time in developing the product. Coming now, he has improvised his products to use bio-mass. KC says that the performance of his stoves is higher than the government benchmark claiming that his stoves scored 29 in the benchmark against the official benchmark of 25. KC plans to develop products that can score around 33 to 35 in terms of performance and fuel efficiency. Presently he has been working fuel-efficient stoves to be used with bio-gas and liquefiedpetroleum gas (LPG).
KC’s stove, besides firewood, can use biomass such as pine leaves, seeds of Schima Wallichi (Chilaune) tree, seeds of Hog Plum (Lapsi) and other bio wastages, which generally remain unused, as fuel source. A candy factory in Parbat entirely uses Hog Plum seeds to fuel the stove. This unique portable stove uses two watt computer fan for air supply. The insulated version of the stove does not heat the room as it is covered by mud, specially designed for the Terai region. The fixed stoves installed in rural households also have similar mechanism and provide better flames while emitting lower smoke. KC says that these stoves can be customised to fit in the requirements of an individual household. This mechanism makes it fuel-efficient, environment and user friendly while ensuring smoke free kitchen.Along with that stove uses parts made of recycled metals supplied by the Butwal based Metal Craft Pvt Ltd.
KC is the first to incubate at the Business Incubation Programme of the Department of Cottage and Small Industries (DoCSI). In 2009, KC was recognised by National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST) with an award for developing efficient stoves. He was also awarded with Surya Nepal Asha Social Entrepreneurship Award in 2013. After being awarded with the awards, KC realized the buzz that his business had created in the market. He has registered patent rights for his innovations. Presently he has been trying to acquire international patent rights for his LPG and bio-gas burners and the DoCSI has pledged assistance in this endeavour.
(By Gaurav Aryal)
CloudFactory: A Crowd-sourcing Powerhub
As crowd-sourcing and cloud-working are becoming the next big things in the global outsourcing market, new companies are flocking into this lucrative business. CloudFactory, a Kathmandu-based startup has emerged among the frontrunners in the global crowd-sourcing market. The company, founded in 2010 by a Canadian tech entrepreneur, Mark Sears, is rapidly expanding its foothold in Nepal and beyond. CloudFactory came into existence when Sears came to Nepal on a vacation with his wife in 2008.
The company basically is a web-based outsourcing platform that hires cloud-workers who can work from their internet enabled locations. CloudFactory's clients are those who need big data services such as data entry, data processing, data collection along with audio/video transcription, categorization, web research and image tagging. The tasks are broken down into sets of "microtasks" which are then distributed to its pool of online workers who complete their work in the "virtual assembly lines". CloudFactory currently employs 3,200 workers from Nepal and across the world, who process over a million tasks per day.
‘‘Nepali startup scene is heading slowly but surely in a good direction’’
How did the idea of CloudFactory germinate?
In 2008, we were a software development company building web and mobile applications for North American and European clients. Many of them started needing data entry related work and kept asking if we could hire people in Nepal and do it. We kept saying no because we were a high-end software boutique and not a data entry company. At the same time we had been living in Nepal for a year and only hiring talented computer engineering fresher. During the period we met many other talented Nepalis looking for an opportunity. The major existing solution was Amazon's Mechanical Turk (AMT) - a crowd sourcing internet marketplace. But its enterprise-grade was not enough for our clients and we faced many quality related problems. So we started CloudFactory on January 1, 2010 as a technology platform to cater to the big demand and supply of online workers and haven't looked back since then.
What are the turning points for your company?
The shift from a software development company to a product company back in Jan 2010 was a major turning point. Another major turning point was in May 2012 when we hired our first 25 cloud workers in Nepal. Up until then we were a tech/engineering company building a platform and now we had to learn how to recruit, train and manage large numbers of data operators.
What problems did you face while starting the business?
While there are many young, talented people in Nepal there are less senior, experienced engineers and managers. We are a young team and in many ways I think that has been a good thing, we have learned a lot and grown together. I am so proud of the things we have accomplished to get to this point and I look around and see that I am surrounded by some of the finest young leaders in Nepal - it is amazing to see the growth and maturity that comes from being part of a growing international startup like this.
How did you manage the investments?
Our team, technology and traction are the keys to us for raising investments. This latest round was definitely related to our participation in a business accelerator in the US where I got to meet and pitch to a lot of great investors at the end of the 7-month program.
What are the major projects of CloudFactory? What are its main focuses?
Large-scale data entry, audio/video transcription, web research, image tagging and categorization are our major projects. Companies come to us with large amounts of routine and repetitive work that we can break down in small tasks that can be partially automated but require people as well to complete many of them.
Have you got any help from the government or private organizations?
While we have not received any formal help from the government we have very much appreciated informal support from people like Radhesh Pant at Nepal Investment Board. While their focus is mostly on the top hydropower investments in Nepal but he understands and appreciates the opportunity for companies like CloudFactory to provide job creation in Nepal. As a landlocked country we need to be thinking more about how we can accelerate the shift to a knowledge economy. For that ICT should be higher on the priority of the government. Even so, the most important thing the government could do is stay out of the way of ICT growth in Nepal and focus on not being a hindrance and let entrepreneurs continue to innovate from their internet-enabled residences across the Kathmandu valley.
What are the challenges being faced by the Nepali tech startups?
Tech startups in Nepal are mostly just freelancers working together in small teams of 2-20 people. They work on the early development side of web and mobile applications but rarely get the opportunity to build a full business by bringing products to market themselves. We need some more product startups to go through the full lifecycle to see some wins on the international stage. We will then have the capital and experience to start the second wave of tech startups in Nepal. I see this happening in the next 3-5 years. Until then many will continue to get experience on the engineering/product development side by building other people's products. The future is bright, Nepali startup scene is heading slowly but surely in a good direction.
(By Sanjeev Sharma)
“Lack of human resource to work on our ventures is the major problem”
Metro Vibes, is a startup company that specializes in web design, development and hosting, email services, graphic design, domain registration, and providing IT consultancy and internet marketing services. After working for over five years with other tech companies, Anil Basnet, Chief Operating Officer of Metro Vibes, felt the need to establish his own IT company. He shared the idea with his three friends and they conceived Metro Vibes.
Company’s growth curve has been pretty stable and has improved substantially since its establishment. Presently 22 employees are working with company and Basnet said more would be joining in the near future. “We work hard to meet projects deadline. We get up at 4 in the morning for our venture Metro Tarkari and ensure that the delivery is made within the set time frame,” Basnet said while elaborating on the growth factors.
Though the venture faced financial crisis in its initial days, lack of skilled manpower was and remains the major problem. “We have unique concepts, required finance and latest technological equipments, but there is scarcity of skilled manpower who can translate our venture ideas into actions,” stated Basnet. Another problem is the absence of government policy on ecommerce. “We are confused about the method of handling online transactions,” he added.
Starting the Merotarkari.com, an online vegetable ecommerce system, was one of the most prominent turning points for the company. This venture boosted the company’s working style and contributed in its expansion. The concept of virtual receptionist was another unique idea in office automation that became a major turning point for the company.
The company started with five clients in the initial phase and coming now it is serving more than 120 trustable clients that range from national to international boundaries. Its core products are mterotarkari.com, metrofever.com, metro bulk email service, and metro biometric attendance system. (By Angila Sharma)
‘‘The company has been working hard to extend its reach to every field’’
Sastra Creations Pvt Ltd is an IT startup company that provides wide range of services including web design and development, hosting, graphics designing, mobile app and software development. The company was founded in 2012 by two IT students Shraddha Timilsina and Binamra Dhakal in their pursuit of utilising their IT skills. "We perceived that IT sector has great opportunities and possibilities in Nepal and hence decided to work and build our own IT business,” Timilsina, who presently acts as the CEO of the company, said.
In the two years of its establishment, the company had several major turning points. Launching the Nation Wide Web Competition 2013in partnership with the Computer Association of Nepal (CAN), on 2nd January, 2013 provided it with much needed publicity and helped gain reputation as an authority in the IT sector. "It helped talented and skilled participants in acquiring better knowledge about opportunities in web design and development. It helped us to grow at the national level,” Timilsina said. Next to it, the company provided IT support for conducting online election of Nepal Medical Council online. Launching its own range of software – school software and Catreen management software – in September 2014 provided it much impetus for being included in the top 20 IT startup companies by the ICT magazine.
Software and websites sales has been major source of the company’s income and investment. It claims that its annual income has grown about three times from 2012 to 2014 with current annual turnover resting at Rs 12 lakh. It has provided employment opportunities to more than 10 youths in 2 years.
The Company has been able to sustain and grow on its own due to the total dedication of its founders and employees. The success, however, was not easy. It has faced its share of financial and operational obstacles and challenges in the first few months of establishment. Timilsina thinks that lack of proper system and knowledge about IT and load shedding are the major problems faced by them. Reflecting on her experience, Timilsina said that it is hard to acquire big projects or partnership with bigger organizations in lack of personal links with them.
For any business, Timilsina thinks that market is important. She claims that taking business online just provides any business with the market. It is not possible to promote business without going online and it is time efficient if you are using digital marketing tools including software to run a business, she claims. The company perceives each and every sector including agriculture, entertainment, ecommerce, restaurants and hotels, travel agencies and any other business to be its potential client. (By Rashika Pokharel)
“We are working on making our technology strong and making it securer”
11Beep is startup company, which since recently have been gaining popularity as a social network that provides platform to individuals to enjoy unrestrained personal freedom of expression.11Beep is a network built specially for mobilephones that doesn’t keep any digital history. It lets you share freely what is on your mind with your friends without worrying about any digital footprint.
11Beep came into operation on November 2013 following Bimal Maharjan’s, the CEO of the company, competitive analysis of the market to find the company’s startup idea. Maharjan had conceived the idea after analysing various posts on different social networking sites.
"People only share trendy thoughts on social networking sites but hesitate to share thoughts that might be considered or taken in negative light by their social networking peers. 11Beep provides anonymity to individuals and emancipates them from the fear of being identified thereby enabling them to share their thoughts spontaneously without any restraints, says Maharjan, CEO of 11Beep. Thus this network paves way for individuals to share their thoughts, whatever their nature, whenever it strikes to their mind. Besides anonymity, this network has another cool feature of deleting all the post after certain time frame. This feature enables that the individual does not leave digital footprint behind for others to trace. Fundamentally, it is a social network with quite higher levelof security.
The company has been running by five-member team – with only CEO committing his full time to it and others helping him out on part time basis. 11Beep is preparing to launch another product in the market but before launching it, its been focusing on making the existing product more user friendly and winning user confidence.
"Our startup is based on the idea of a loosing algorithm and is designed for maintaining anonymity. We don't want to go wrong anywhere. We are working on making our technology strong and making it securer. We have required technical competencies and expertise and are very happy with our work and knowing that we are on the track of gaining our objective," says Maharjan.
The company is sustaining through its own resources and has not got any support from government. "Fortunately I don't have to pay my team so that is a relief .We don't require huge investment and our biggest need at the moment is human capital, we are investing on our own so right now we don't feel the need for funding but in the next phase, we will need huge investment," he added.
As a part of its aim, Beep11 believes in building something which people can make good use of. But being a start up it has its own woes too. "Our society in not built to encourage tech entrepreneurs and as in the initial phase they don’t earn much to sustain, it is very difficult for startups to establish in Nepal,” Maharjan said.
(By Rashika Pokharel)
Sasto Deal: Providing the Best Deals
Sasto Deal (SD) is one of the prominent rising stars of online retail shops in Nepal. The company was started almost 3 years ago with the aim of switching offline Nepali market to online and providing best deals. Upon returning from the US, Amun Thapa, SD’s CEO, decided to do some business and began to search for ideas that would sell. It did not take long to Amun to realize that Nepali people had been wasting some really useful hours in shopping. “I found people lingering to different places in search of different items. I asked myself if everyone was doing the same and the answer was yes. I was compelled to seek for a solution and I knew there was one. However, the sad part was that no one was doing anything about it,” says Thapa. He realized that he could save people this hours by taking it online and making it available on their desktop or mobile phones. The idea was simple but he needed people who could translate his vision into reality. This brought him in touch with his schoolmates who were pursuing their degree in the IT field. They worked around the idea and gave birth to Sasto Deal. The initial phase was a bumpy ride as they had problems in making deals. It was difficult for them to make people believe in online business. “People laughed at our ideas and we had to go out to the market begging for deals. But now, the same people are begging us to feature their products,” says Thapa proudly. The company believes that the initial phase was difficult because online business was a new term to this part of the world and also because the rulers find it difficult to trust the new comers. The company believes that they are grown large.“I would probably say the growth rate is over 100% right now, this is not only due to the fact that the company is outperforming but also due to the fact that we are in the e-commerce business and with every single product, our chances for growth increases,” Avash K.C, CO-CEO of Sasto Deal, said.
(By Angila Sharma)
Himalayan Wonders: A Travel Startup with a Difference
The Internet has changed the way companies do their business and tourism sector is no exception to it. Himalayan Wonders, a Nepali travel startup, also harnessed the latest developments made in the field of online technology and took all its business online. Founded in 2013, the company provides affordable tours and trekking packages to Nepal. This online portal is packed with informative contents and pictures and travellers can choose and book any tour package online through any Internet enabled device such as smartphone and tablet from anywhere in the world.Himalayan Wonders came into existence when an American geologist Dr David Urmann and his Brazilian friend Pablo Souto Maior suggested Nishes Thapato start his own company. Dr Urmann has been visiting Nepal since the mid-90s' for research on climate change and in credited for establishing the company. Dr. Urmann and another Co-founder, Maior, promote the startup in the global market while Thapa heads the Nepal operations of the company. The company has been receiving overwhelming response from travellers and trekkers around the globe. Within a year it has received five-star rating from Trip Advisor and many positive reviews from its satisfied customers.
‘‘Ever since the inception of the company, we never looked back’’
How did your business idea germinate?
I was born in Tripureshwor VDC of Dhading and tourists visiting Ganesh Himal pass through it. Those tourists always fascinated me and it is during these days that my interest of doing something in tourism industry developed. In 1998 I came to Kathmandu and started working in the tourism sector. I worked for different people and gained industry experience that one must have in order to thrive in this booming industry. Dr David Urmann, an American friend of mine, suggested me to establish my own travel company. With his and his Brazilian friend Pablo Souto Maior constant help, we established the company in 2013.
What is the growth rate of your company?
Since its inception, we have never looked back. Our business is growing every year. With the end of the decade long insurgency, the tourism and hospitality industry has been prospering. If this continues, I am hopeful of maintaining the existing healthy growth rate.
What problems did you face while starting the business?
We have not faced major problems till date. Our business so far has been smooth with tremendous support from staffs, friends and families. However, events such as general strikes and political instability in the country, have always posed to be a big threat. In the past, we have suffered financial losses due to such condition.
How are you managing investments?
We received bank loans to meet our initial investment requirements. In due course of time as the company started to grow, I borrowed money from friends and even used my personal savings to make further investment. We keep track of every penny that goes out as expenditure and comes in as earning. We keep our books up-to-date and this has become the success mantra of the company.
Have you got any help from the government or private organizations?
We have not received any help from the government. If government agencies show interest in us, we would be glad to work together for the growth of this industry. Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) has provided us substantial help in promoting our business at the international level.
(By Sanjeev Sharma)