All In The Vision

10 min read
08 Jul 2016
10 min read
1320 words
VMAG talks to Braindigit's Founder and CEO Nischal Man Pradhan

You’re doing a lot of diverse work now, but how did it all start?

It all began in 2007 with a startup funded out of my own pocket—the amount wasn’t much. We worked out of a single room, with one computer and only one employee–who quit in a week’s time. Fresh out of college, I was left to take care of all the operational and administrative tasks by myself, and it was not easy. I somehow convinced a friend to come on board, and later, with the backing of my father, I officially registered Braindigit.

Braindigit started out as an outsourcing company, and today it is moving towards enterprise solutions; what’s the difference?

Honestly, I didn’t see a future in being just an outsourcing company, so we got into developing products.

Be transparent in whatever you do, and take into consideration your team’s needs too, besides your own vision

Enterprise solution applies to companies using the business-to-business model, and all our products and services are tailor-made for them. Providing enterprise solutions is more than just selling pieces of software to big companies; it essentially entails changing the core business process of a company. It’s definitely not cheap—hence only big companies can afford it. But our aim has been to provide such services to even small- and medium- size companies. Right now, we have a number of local corporate clients (such as Ncell) who make use of our enterprise solutions, and the response has been great.

When you’re catering to a company, how hard is it to work with all their constraints?

The kind of solution or the features we need to add to our product depends on the problem we are tackling. Given a choice, anybody would develop a product, mass sell it and just provide support. But that’s not how it works. Every solution is unique and bespoke for every single company. We may be able to satisfy the needs of a client now, but six months down the line it could be a completely different story. So the main challenge is to maintain that satisfaction level, and I believe it’s the same with every business.

How many people do you need to run a company, at a bare minimum?

If you’re talking about an IT startup, then it should start with a visionary person who is clear about his/her goals. That person doesn’t have to come from a technical background but needs to have a clear idea of what problems s/he wants to tackle. Then, of course, you need individuals who will help achieve those goals in reality. Around five people should be enough to start your technical company; but to make it work, now, that is a completel

How do you perceive the work force in Nepal?

The capabilities and possibilities of our youth are limitless, but I feel the challenge lies in retaining personnel. First of all it is very difficult to get what you want out of them, because most of them are very young and lack clarity of vision. Here at Braindigit, we don’t just hire people to develop products for us; our philosophy is to develop a workforce of experts who can tackle any problem. So you invest a lot of time and resources on grooming newcomers, but despite all these facilities and opportunities, they tend to drop out. People have this perception that working outside Nepal is more beneficial, so I would say that talent drain is definitely a serious challenge for any local enterprise.

How do you know that a startup has started to stagnate?

If a company is not growing, it’s called a zombie startup. Client success, unique product management, marketing, a capable workforce–all of these are needed to run a successful company, but the most important factor for success is the captain of the ship. If his ideas are not frequently updated according to the market, the startup will be in trouble.

What are some of the challenges in the Nepali market?

I’m going to go beyond the power crisis that we as a nation have been facing and say the main hurdle has been the mentality of people, which is more crippling—at least with the former, we have alternative solutions. People still think software is something you get for free or get for cheap in a CD. However, the perception is changing, as many companies are being taken over by a younger generation who value the importance of a robust system and a good customer-support team. Another positive turn of events has to do with the heavy investments being made in the IT sector. This will not only help improve the country’s economy but also develop the emerging IT sector in Nepal.

How can the state help IT startups?

You don’t have to go far for an example. If you chart the recent IT movement in India, you’ll find that the state has been doing so much for upcoming ventures–be it by providing financial aid, proper infrastructure or even mentorship. If our government were to provide just tax benefits, that would serve as a lifeline to a lot of upcoming ventures. Also, the state has to invest in education in order to enhance the competitiveness of Nepalis in regards to the rest of the world.

Some advice for founding entrepreneurs?

Be transparent in whatever you do, and take into consideration your team’s needs too, besides your own vision. Don’t judge—instead, guide your team. Assess the market before investing time and resources in any project. Focus on the long-term market requirement while developing a product. That way you don’t have to overhaul your ideas; you can just tweak it. Developing a product takes years, and the last thing you want is your project becoming irrelevant.