Rise and Shine – The Tech Gurus of Nepal

September 19, 2014 , by Pragya Thapaliya, 1 Comment
Rise and Shine – The Tech Gurus of Nepal » My Dreams Mag
Nepal's transition has stayed for long. In fact, the country's political instability has frustrated the mass forcing people to resort to a tendency of complaining over the standstill situation -- just to appease self. Technology is one of the aspects of development that hovers around the radar of complaint in Nepal. Post-industrial era is signified through heavy reliance on technology and emergence of more white-collar service oriented job that needs help of computers. This industrial boom is prominent in developed nations, even in India that has seen a boom in IT.
Bangalore has been commonly referred to as the “Silicon Valley of India”. It gets its name from the Santa Clara valley in the United States of America, a tech hub of the world. The IT industry is now slowly expanding its roots in Nepal, thanks to the diffusion of knowledge from our neighbours and the expansion of market. The popularity of internet no doubt has been playing a significant role. An enterprise in Nepal, now, can take the up tech ventures in any corner of the world.

And this would not have been possible without the youths who demonstrate a wide array of interest in the technological field. Although it might seem like a salmon’s swim upstream for small scale Nepali tech applications and enterprises to make it big in the national and the international scenario, there adherence and allegiance has made some Nepali tech-makers notable names.

It actually came as a surprise when Nepali youths designed customized apps for Nepali society – ‘Load-shedding’ and ‘Nepali Patro’ apps to name a few. It was always going to be a surprise because it came at the time when Nepalese were complaining. But the Nepali denizens are continuing to surprise, as they are coming up with ventures in the uncharted territories in the context of Nepal.

App developers Anish Shrestha, Subrat Basnet and Nirmal Thapa are few amongst the Nepalese who have stepped into the tech world setting a benchmark for others. With a zeal to bring change and leave their trace in the cloudstream, they have been designing websites and launching mobile applications that can alter the life style of people both within and out of the nation.
Yellow Nepal – Tech Mecca for Foodies

Anish, with co-founder Manisha Karmacharya, came up with Yellow Nepal. It is a brain-child that first triggered in the Anish’s mind when he missed New Year celebrations for two years just because he had no idea about the best place to be in during those nights. He was also unsure of where his friends were. So he wanted to develop an application that helped the foodies and the restaurants to come under one wing. Yellow is a concept that can set up a distinct hang-out culture.

Anish shares, “Yellow is a location-based social research tool that provides foodies, discount hunters and event lovers a single platform to smartly discover the nearby or best place to eat. With the real time information including the food menus, food discounts, events, opening hours, cuisines listings, single dialler to call, email, checking in, and map that shows route to get to the place, we want to reform the eating behaviours. The location of the friends will be constantly updated. We have more than 2000 downloads of the Android App already for the app in BETA. We plan to launch the service soon and the number should go higher!”
1. Were you involved in any technological ventures prior to Yellow Nepal? Could you please explain?
Along with some colleagues, we built a software service venture back in college. We were a bunch of young college kids. Though we failed to make tons of money as planned, it was the best learning experience. So the market sense got into my head, besides the tech. After I finished my college in 2012, I started working for F1Soft International Pvt Ltd, a leading Mobile Application Development team. Working as a team in these two ventures got me learning most part I know today. It’s iterating everyday now.

2. A lot of urban diners are into experiencing new taste and trying out new eateries. How can Yellow App guide them?
The core value of the Yellow Service is to provide the single platform for the eateries, both in terms of the cuisines and restaurants. Yellow, as a platform, we have a service that incorporates every restaurant’s detailed information, their food menus, the specialties, daily specials, and best cuisines. With all these data in one container, we provide the personalised, curated information for the urban diners. We want to make Yellow a de facto service whenever you want to eat outside, at least in Kathmandu for now, before we expand!

3. What is the vision of Yellow in the days to come? And how do you plan to achieve it?
We have a five-year vision. How we should adapt with the market and scale. For this year, we are working hard to have more restaurants subscribed to our service and providing more values to the app users. The most of our blood, sweat and tears are being invested in making people aware about our services. As we pass this stage, we have plans for deeper integration with the restaurant domain with technology.
We are following the lean startup principles. We are always experimenting, failing and learning from them. Though most of the paths are not clear yet, we have the vision of being one of the best tech startup from Kathmandu, we are working hard for it, everyday.

4. When a lot of tech-makers are shying away from doing something innovative in their own nation, what suggestions would you like to give to the youths who have hopes of earning fame in this field?
In the internet age, I think the geographical boundaries have somehow faded already. I can actually take Stanford, MIT online courses from here. I can work for a company in Australia. News of New York streets can be streamed live in New Road. If we use these resources and take the thousands of opportunities lying around, this is the perfect time to make something out of nothing and proving innovations can be done from the Kathmandu Valley too.

I always wanted to work in my country. It’s nothing like being home and having a feeling that you are at least making a dent in the country’s economy, culture and development. I would love to do what I am doing here in Silicon Valley and accelerate. But still I am solving the problems that can later be scaled to Silicon Valley too. The ideas might be small but the possibilities are endless.

I think brain drain is good for some stage, but after a span of time there has to be a brain gain. Let the intelligent people come back to Nepal and then with all the knowledge, experience accumulated, we can dream of a better us, a better country.

Grepsr – Nepali Web Crawler

Subrat Basnet, with partner Amit Chaudhary, has initiated Web crawling service in Nepal that targets businesses all over the world. University of Technology Sydney graduate Basnet’s web crawling service has earned him 700 recurring and non- recurring customers and some of his customers are big names like Twitter, Credit Suisse and Target.
1. What triggered the idea of Grepsr?
The idea actually just “popped up”. We think the information on the web is scattered and not easily consumable by companies. We saw a business opportunity in streamlining the process of automated data collection for businesses.

2. What other technological ventures were you involved in prior to Grepsr?
Not sure if this can be called a “technological venture” but back in 2001, I had programmed then popular chat software in Nepal called, Nepal Messenger. I also operated a popular teen website, myktm.com with my friend and current business partner Amit (Chaudhary). I had also set up another company called “Traffic Geyser” as a subsidiary of its US parent company. That was back in 2010-11. We started Grepsr on Jan 2013.

3. Could you clarify the concept of Grepsr?
Grepsr is basically a “web crawling service”. In layman’s term, we specialize automated data collection from the web. We send out “crawler programs” to do that. Web crawling is a pretty old concept. The biggest web crawler is Google that crawls the web and indexes data for easier search. What we do is somewhat similar but in a very small scale, as per customer requirement.

4. What is the vision of Grepsr in the days to come? And how do you plan to achieve it?
We want to move into not just collecting data but providing web based software for customers to analyze and search the data. We hope to process big data and generate analytics so that our business customers can make informed decisions based on our reports. On a philosophical level, we want to build a multi-million dollar and staying very small in the process. We want to make the world take notice that there can be innovative tech companies out of Nepal too.

5. Could you please give out some words of wisdom to the Nepali youths who are interested to work in this field?
I’d say it’s good for everyone to go abroad a few years to get the perspective of things. However, I would definitely encourage people to come back and start ventures here. Especially in the tech sector, it’s very globalized and it’s possible to start profitable business out of Nepal too. When we started we were a bit skeptical too but we now have customers like Twitter, Credit Suisse, Target, Boston Consulting Group etc.; and that too WITHOUT a foreign presence. Nepal is much better now and with a bit of dedication and most importantly, execution – there are great opportunities here.
Nepali Bytes – Bookworms Galore

Nirmal Thapa, an MBA graduate from Western Illinois University, along with his team mates pitched in the idea of connecting Nepali writers with the readers in the Startup Weekend 2013 which earned them the title of 1st runner up in the competition. Now the website, http://nepalibytes.com/, offers readers information on book launches, talks with the authors and helps bridge the gap between the authors and the readers.

1. What triggered the idea of Nepali Bytes?
Nepali Bytes started from conversations with young Nepali writers and readers back in 2012. After some extensive research and data collection, I attended the first Startup Weekend Kathmandu held in February 2013 and pitched the idea of the Nepali literary platform. My Startup Weekend teammates (Abhishek Singh, Chhitesh Shrestha, Monil Adhikari) and I earned 1st runner up in the competition and have been building the platform ever since.

2. What are the main attractions of Nepali Bytes?
Nepali Bytes is a premium literary platform that provides value to Nepali writers, readers and publishers. The main attractions are exclusive contents of book launches, conversations with authors and information on latest Nepali literature in the market. We have also featured exclusive excerpts from their books, in order to promote authors and their works.

3. While a lot of Nepali youths are have slowly shifted to the e-books rather than hard copies. Due to the unavailability of Nepali e-books, a lot of youths both inside and outside the nation seem to have lost touch with the Nepali literary scene. Does Nepali Bytes have any plans regarding this?
Besides our website, in order to understand the Nepalese community’s need to connect to Nepali literature, we have been beta testing the Nepali Bytes iPad app as of June 2014.

4. What other changes are you planning to bring to Nepali Bytes? What is the vision?
We want our target group to find the most value from our platform. Thus, we will continue to evolve with the industry and provide users with relevant information. The relevant information ranges from the process of obtaining an ISBN number for independent writers, data on publishers in the market, industry size and local reading audience. We also regularly take feedback from our readers on our website and app to continually provide them with relevant material. We want Nepali Bytes to be the platform where readers connect with their favourite authors and discover up and coming authors. Our vision is to be the ultimate platform for all things related to Nepali literature.

5. Were you involved in any technological ventures prior to Nepali bytes? Could you please explain?
I was a marketing intern at MakerBot Industries (located in Brooklyn, New York), which makes 3D printers and 3D scanners. Afterwards, I was part of Parakhi in its early stages being involved both in New York City and Kathmandu. I looked after all the operations in Nepal for Parakhi and managed a group of 10-14 team members.

6. What suggestions would you like to give to the Nepali youths who have hopes of being Tech-makers?
It’s too early for me to start giving advice or guide other tech-makers. I definitely feel that Nepal is a place for entrepreneurship and many local industries will become disrupted by people who execute innovative ideas. There are many companies already doing amazing work and there is still more work to do. There are definitely challenges but that’s where the fun is. From my experience, I would say three things are important in order to build something meaningful: Vision, Focus and Talent Management.

These youths have set an example and have proved that dedication, passion and the eagerness to strive for the better will give you the perfect concoction for success. DREAMS wishes them all the best for their future endeavours and hopes that more youths interested in this field will follow the lead and make some tangible changes in the tech-industry of Nepal.
In Conversation with Pragya Thapalia.
Follow Pragya on Twitter @pragya16
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One comment on “Rise and Shine – The Tech Gurus of Nepal

  1. anuj says:

    Dear Nepali Techies KuDoS! for the good start of a global apps phenomenon.
    I just fear the lack of proper updates or should i say in the long run there will be apps but no continuity due to the interest in making more number of apps than branding a single app. As any other sites and web related contents be ut private or government i see very little updates. Which shows lack of continuity. Also if there are ways to make apps that users themselves can update contents its even better, it will make the apps more interactive and two way.

    Saying this i dont want to discourage or be opiniated about it its just my views i wanted to share it being in the tech field myself.

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