ATULYA PANDEY: MORE ON THE NEPALI MAN BEHIND ONE OF THE NEW STUDENT STARTUPS IN USA.
The last time I saw him, Atulya and I were acting in a high school production of the musical: West Side Story. He played Bernardo and I was Diesel. That was over five years ago. Now, I come to hear he’s the co founder of the increasingly popular dorm room startup called Pagevamp.
Born and raised in Kathmandu, Atulya Pandey went to school in St. Xaviers and completed his High School from Rato Bangala. He recently graduated with a degree in Economics from, the University of Pennsylvania, which was also the same place he and his roommates came up with the easiest website builder in the world.
At the moment he is the closest thing we (Nepal) have to Mark Zuckerberg (which might be a slight exaggeration, but it might just be a matter of time).
AT THE MOMENT HE IS THE CLOSEST THING WE (NEPAL) HAVE TO MARK ZUCKERBERG (WHICH MIGHT BE A SLIGHT EXAGGERATION, BUT IT MIGHT JUST BE A MATTER OF TIME).
TNM: Tell us a bit about yourself.
AP: I love dancing; I did Salsa in Nepal and was in a Latin Dance Troupe in college. I also like eating Sichuan and Thai food, drinking and sleeping (in no particular order).
I was always interested in starting my own thing and partaking in the making of something that creates an impact. That is what has basically steered the “professional” decisions and choices I’ve made.
For instance, I studied abroad in Beijing to learn Chinese and worked in a Social Enterprise in Delhi for a summer. I wanted to learn both the Chinese and Indian ways so that I can eventually become a successful politician in Nepal keeping the two nations in control haha (he said half jokingly)
For Pagevamp, I am the Chief Operating Officer and I look over the sales, marketing and business development. However, in a 3 person company you pretty much have to do a little of everything). I am also trying to improve my coding and technical skills.
TNM: So what is Pagevamp? How did it all start out?
AP: Me and my roommates (Vincent and Fred) would come up with crazy ideas that we wanted to work on. But because we did not have to resources to fund our genius plots, we decided to start a web design agency first. The idea was to make some money by making people custom websites and use the money to work on our own crazy ideas. We soon realized that it was really difficult for people to manage their websites, especially for those who have a tough time with the technical aspect of things. That’s when we came up with Pagevamp.
Pagevamp helps you create and update your website from your Facebook Page.
All you have to do is upload pictures, post status updates or create events on your Facebook Page and your website will update automatically. You can also get your own custom domain and add custom pages with more information. The best part is, because Facebook is so easy to use, there is no need to learn complicated platforms in order to manage your websites.
TNM: Who do you think Pagevamp will appeal to the most?
AP: Via Pagevamp, updating your website is just a matter of updating your Facebook page. Because Facebook is a platform with which people are already familiar with, Pagevamp could be useful for small businesses, photographers, restaurants, musicians and many more. We still need to add a lot of features to cater to specific verticals but Pagevamp could be for anyone looking for an easy and good looking website.
TNM: Is the response coming on as you’d expected? If not what are your strategies to overcome the discrepancies?
AP: We’ve had very good response so far. We have users from over 80+ countries. People love the concept and product but there’s still a long way to go in terms of making our product the best. The strategy will be to create features and designs that everyone loves and is the easiest to use.
TNM: How does it feel to get such a good response to your hard work?
AP: It feels great – I think we are on the right track. Working on a startup is like getting on a roller coaster ride. There are lots of ups and downs but that is what makes it super exciting. It is also exciting that a lot of people are using the product we built.
We have over 8000 published websites from all over the world and the numbers are growing every day. We are working hard to add more value for our users. A lot of work needs to be done but we are really happy with the progress and milestones we have achieved so far.
TNM: What are the USP’s of Pagevamp and what do you have in the pipelines?
AP: This is by far the easiest way to create a website, and you can do it in less than 30 seconds if you already have a Facebook page.
In the future we want to add more features and designs to make it more convenient for certain verticals such as photographers, restaurants and non-profit organizations.
I WOULD EXPECT A MOVIE LOOSELY BASED ON MY LIFE TO GO INTO PRODUCTION IN KOLLYWOOD… AND THEN BECOME A SUPER HIT. I EXPECT THEM TO FILL MY LIFE WITH A LOT CONTROVERSY.
TNM: Do you think it would have been possible for something like Pagevamp to have started in Nepal? Or can you find reasons and obstacles to its possible initiation in Nepal?
AP: I think Nepal has amazing talent. We’ve been working with a group in Nepal for theme development and they are great. Building a product like this is definitely possible but there are some limitations:
- a) Access to network: Our alumni network has proved to be very valuable in introducing us to key people/investors, potential partnerships, etc.
- b) Access to Capital: We were fortunate to be funded by Dorm room fund, a fund started by a prominent Venture Capital firm that invests in student startups. Getting the right funding in Nepal for this concept might have been an issue.
- c) New York City has a lot of resources for Startups. There are a lot of startups working on really cool stuff. And that also increases the opportunities for fruitful collaborations.
TNM: What does Pagevamp have planned for its future?
AP: We want to continue growing our user base and add more themes and features to make it easier for people to use Pagevamp. We are also looking to raise investment in the coming months in order to hire more people and develop further.
TNM: If Pagevamp does pick up as expected, we’re pretty sure you’ll be dubbed as the Mark Zuckerberg of Nepal. How would you feel about that?
AP: Haha. That would be really funny, actually. But if they called me that, I would expect a movie loosely based on my life to go into production in Kollywood… and then become a super hit. I expect them to fill my life with a lot controversy.
TNM: Anything else you’d like to add.
AP: I would love to hear what people have to say about Pagevamp, the feedback is greatly appreciated! And a shout-out to my best friends and Co-Founders of Pagevamp: Fred and Vincent for being awesome.