Providing a platform for the Nepali startup community

5 min read
Published:
09 Aug 2017
Duration:
5 min read
Words:
1843 words
Segment:
Business
From the Archive (May, 2016): STARTUPSNepal, a social platform with an in-depth directory about startups, attempts to bring together entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders in one ecosystem

The Nepali entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown rapidly over the past five to seven years. New businesses are mushrooming all over Nepal, especially in the big cities of Kathmandu, Bharatpur-Narayanghat, Birgunj, Biratnagar and Pokhara. Concomitant with that growth has been an increase in the the number of investors and aspirants, along with the number of entrepreneurial events and programmes.

While these developments may make Nepal seem like startup dreamland, there are still certain gaps within the ecosystem that need to be bridged. One such gap has to do with the lack of a platform that brings together entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders.

STARTUPSNepal, through its new  web portal, www.startupsnepal.com, is attempting to become that bridge.

Visibility and connectivity

The ecosystem in Nepal is still not as vast as in other countries, and startups here still struggle with issues of visibility and connectivity. There are several innovative ventures, but it is still difficult for them to showcase their worth because there are very few local platforms where they can do so. Thus it can be a Herculean task for them to get feedback for their ideas and make pragmatic changes while they still can and at a minimal cost. They might, for example, want to make a pitch to investors when the time comes; but without proper connections, that would be another hurdle for them to overcome.

Visibility and connectivity are not just problems for those seeking funds. Today, many established business houses are looking to diversify their investment portfolios by putting their money into startups. Active investors representing the Mercantile Group of Companies, the Kantipur Media Group, the Chaudhary Group, the Panchakanya Group, and many others are looking for early-stage investment opportunities. Aspiring investors are also growing in number as evidenced by Biruwa Ventures, One to Watch and Impact Investors, among others, who are investing relatively small chunks into small businesses and startups. These investors lack the visibility they need because they don’t have a point of contact for communicating with entrepreneurs and startups.

This is where STARTUPSNepal’s website comes in. STARTUPSNepal provides a social platform with an in-depth directory about startups, and it features critical information that the investors, the market and the community need to know about enterprises in Nepal. The website also provides information on investors, including their interests, the opportunities they are looking for and the range of funds they offer, along with details of their prior investments.

If you are an entrepreneur or an investor, you can create your own profile on the website, where you can list your startup, or yourself, and connect with other entrepreneurs, startups and investors.

Get inspired

Most aspiring entrepreneurs draw inspiration from very successful ones. But most people getting into the startup game are only exposed to the stories of big players in the industry or those that the media recurrently feature. Although inspiring, these players’ stories might seem impossible to replicate for many startup entrepreneurs; thus, rather than being motivated, they might actually become discouraged—because the success stories might not be something the aspirants will be able to relate to.

There are, however, plenty of other entrepreneurs who have not yet made it as big, but whose stories might arouse the entrepreneurial spirit within early-stage entrepreneurs here—and their stories might be the ones that people here could relate to. The struggles faced by startups, the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial journey, and the tricks and the expertise the entrepreneurs have perfected hold lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. But such stories aren’t covered very much by the media here.

To fill that vacuum, STARTUPSNepal features stories of both entrepreneurs and startups—in order to instill the entrepreneurial spirit among its readers. The platform’s dedicated section brings readers closer to established entrepreneurs and startups, while also giving them a ringside view of the opportunities and the problems in the Nepali entrepreneurial scene.

Knowledge source

While issues pertaining to and within the startup environment are touched upon by the national and local media, the stories are mostly included as small bits of news in the publications’ business section. There is no section that specifically targets the startup scene. For anyone who wants to know about the startup dimension in Nepal, there isn’t a dedicated single platform that they can go to. To be sure, some bloggers are doing a fantastic job on this front, but the bloggers usually limit themselves to areas that fall under their personal expertise, and they do not draw a pool of other experts to their platform.

STARTUPSNepal showcases articles that are specifically focused on the startup scene in Nepal, and it also allows other experts to share their experiences and expertise via articles that are relevant to the Nepali startup ecosystem. These articles are based on both personal opinion and research—to provide in-depth knowledge to the platform’s readers.

Information and resources 

As mentioned earlier, a lot is happening in the startup scene in Nepal, and it has become difficult to keep track of all the developments taking place. There are entrepreneurial events and programmes being held almost every week. Apart from programmes like Startup Weekend, Entrepreneurs’ Talk (E-Talk), Last Thursdays with Entrepreneurs, SpaceApp Challenge and others that have become go-to events in the ecosystem, there are also several others that aspiring entrepreneurs and stakeholders might be interested in attending. And they would also want to keep themselves updated about the news and the happenings in the ecosystem. What is lacking in the ecosystem is the single go-to point where people can find such information and updates.

Realizing the need for such a platform, STARTUPSNepal hosts an events section where all of the events and programmes are listed in a single online calendar. On this calendar, people can view events and the details they might be interested in, and also add an event they are hosting if they wish to. The STARTUPSNepal team makes sure that the calendar is optimally maintained so that no relevant events get left out.There is also a resource section in the web portal where entrepreneurs and investors can find relevant resources that they will need as they grow their business from the inception phase. Everything from details on registering a company and designing company logo to other hurdles the entrepreneur will have to overcome during the early and latter stages of their growth can be found in the resource section, which is meant to be a comprehensive library for entrepreneurs to draw information and knowledge from.

Queries posed, answered

Owing to the complexity of doing business in Nepal, entrepreneurs lack a formal platform where they can share their queries and have experts provide answers and feedback. Facebook groups do provide a platform for entertaining queries, but most of this is done informally, and the particular post where a query is asked often gets lost in the sea of thousands of posts in the group. A new problem arises in that case. Two or more people might have the same problem, and when the same question gets put up by more than one user, the replies to the earlier post will get relegated to a lower position in the pecking order and might end up getting lost in the pile.

To formally manage such problems, STARTUPSNepal has a forum section where people can discuss issues and queries related to startups and businesses, in the same platform. This is a place where people can engage in a formal discussion on a topic, and that could lead to newer ideas and better solutions while they are brainstorming.

Talent pooled in one place

One of the hardest—yet most crucial task—of a startup is to find the right person with the right set of skills for their company. A great founding team is able to create great products. However,finding people beyond your social circle to become your core team members can be a challenge. The problem is intensified by the fact that a startup cannot spend money on traditional media to call for vacancies as budget will be tight in the initial phase.

In the early stages, access to STARTUPSNepal’s portal, where startups can post job openings and where jobseekers can find jobs for free, will save the startups money that they would have otherwise spent on posting vacancies in expensive media slots. Because STARTUPSNepal is a portal where everyone related to the startup ecosystem comes together, it is an ideal place for posting vacancies and looking for jobs.

Community-driven platform

The end result of everything the portal does is to create a strong startup community that will benefit the entrepreneurs, investors and everyone who aspires to start on the entrepreneurial journey. Powered by startup energy, this portal drives the momentum of collaboration between startups, investors, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. It also provides an environment for open communication, which leads to cross-sector initiatives. Say, you are an entrepreneur and you read a startup feature on the website, and you see that your startup can collaborate with some other startup to create new value; when you are able to scope out each other in such a manner, you could end up thinking about working together with the other entity.

Because of all the things it brings to the table, STARTUPSNepal should benefit everyone interested in the startup ecosystem here. Apart from the provisions therein for connectivity and visibility, it is the support system of the community that will prove exceedingly useful. The portal promotes a give-and-take culture where you get support from fellow companions and experts when in need, and also provide support to others who might be in need of you. The process of learning by taking feeds on itself and grows from there.

STARTUPSNepal’s mission has just started. It’s the community that will take it where it has to go.