The startup culture is booming! In Nepal too, there recently have been a burst of activity in the startup world as we see more accelerators, competitions, and small cohorts of investments geared towards local startups. Especially technology based ones seem to be catching fire with developer meetups being held almost every week in various venues in Kathmandu. What are the hot trending startups in Nepal now? What are the pressing issues in the community that local entrepreneurs are providing innovating innovative solutions to? Let’s take a look at the four major startups we should be watching out for, along with some insights by our team member - Lakshman Basnet.
Sasto Deal (“Sasto” - cheap in Nepali) is one of Nepal's biggest e-commerce website, serving both those within Kathmandu Valley and outside. Launched in 2011, the breakthrough solution has since attracted thousands customers on its platform. Sasto Deals was inspired by the issue consumers faced in having to hunt endlessly at various shops for the best deals, and the marketing difficulties retailers faced in the already saturated marketplace. Sasto Deal provides items ranging from clothes to electronics at a marked off price, offering free home deliveries inside Kathmandu valley. Since the launch of Sasto Deals they also began Sasto Books, which has now become the largest online marketplace for books. Kind of like how amazon started with books - but the other way round for Sasto.
Insights from Lakshman: Sasto Deal offers a wide range of products at reasonable costs, making it a favorable site to shop for all Nepalese. We can say that Sasto Deal and Sasto Books are revolutionizing the online shopping trend in Nepal. The major challenges for any online shopping platforms in Nepal are to provide a reliable payment service to customer, manage the delivery timing and the quality of the goods. Sasto Deal should focus on these areas to go an extra mile ahead from their competitors who offer similar services.
Awarded as the top startup of Nepal by Living with ICT magazine in 2016, Nepflights has been taking pace and changing the way flight ticket booking services are provided in Nepal. Nepflights is an online domestic flights booking platform launched in 2013. Before Nepflights, if you wanted to travel by air within the country, you had to either physically go to the travel agency, call or email them. Most of the time, the online responses weren’t positive - there either weren’t any responses at all, or the travel day of your wish was not available. Now with Nepflights, there is no need to make multiple trips and inquiries to get a flight on the date of your choice. Using API, Nepflights searches for the best deals available for both foreigners and Nepalis who want to fly domestically.
Insights from Lakshman: What Nepflights does is really something special - making our life easier for travelling by saving time and money. Apart from flight tickets, they also provide various other travel offerings such as bungee jumping, trekking, zip flying packages in Pokhara. They should include even more features and services to make hotel booking, travel packages etc, so that tourists don’t have to go through the hassle of looking up further details.
Phunka has widely loved and popular products in market like meroanswer.com, and flipkarma. They provide services such as mobile application development, web application development and big data analytics. This company was found by students from Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus, two years before graduation. Their motivation for creating their popular app came from their experiences in taking the engineering entrance exam for college. In order to prepare for the entrance examinations, many go to the so-called institutes (something like cram schools), which are located mainly in Kathmandu. Those living outside Kathmandu valley had to move into the valley to prepare for exams in these institutes, which was obviously a huge financial burden. The group of students saw this as a real issue, and sought to solve the problem themselves through developing an app where students could prepare for the exams without having to go to these institutes. Phunka Technologies plans on growing bigger and further developing innovative solutions.
Insights from Lakshman: The craze of meroanswer.com is growing rapidly among the students preparing for entrance examinations. It is saving their time and money by allowing them to learn and take exams online. Some ideas for improvements are to have expert services in meroanswer such as counseling, and also have better answers to clear up confusions on certain topics.
One of the unique web products in Nepal is Yellow Nepal. It’s a mobile app that searches the best deals from more than 3,500 restaurants in Kathmandu and Pokhara. The mobile app shows you the basic information about the restaurant as well as compares food choices based on rating, distance and cuisine. The mobile app works even offline and gives personalized notifications. The restaurants on the app are divided into three groups; retail sized, middle-class restaurants, and top-level restaurants. The restaurants that are listed are mostly dominated by the middle-class and top-level restaurants. Their scope is not limited to the restaurant business only, where their plan is to expand into other day-to-day events, and make it more into a “lifestyle app”.
Insights from Lakshman: This kind of app is very new among all the apps available in Nepal. If this app is able to list many more restaurants and food menus, there is no doubt it would be loved by all - not only just by Nepalese but also by foreigners who have trouble finding the best restaurants and good food. The foreseeable challenge for this app would be the capability to continuously update the information and location of these restaurants.
Hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of the hot startups in Nepal! While there are many technical challenges that Nepali entrepreneurs face in starting up, there are definitely determined faces trying to go against the current. The community is growing, and so is the interest in starting up viable businesses that can scale. Not that entrepreneurship is something new I would say - building businesses, however small or local has always been part of the culture. We plan on doing a second series of local startups in the future so keep a watch out :D
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