Painting the town yellow: We talk with the founders of Yellow Nepal App
Photos: Bibhas Maharjan Suwal
The age of start-ups is upon us, and heading the Nepalese fleet is Yellow Nepal. After being selected as finalists for Google’s international competition ‘Google Business Groups’ (GBG), Yellow Nepal has created a buzz in the tech market of Nepal.
The competition, GBG Stories Contest, with the tagline “share your story and inspire others”started on June 24th. Hundreds of participants from more than fifty countries put in their submissions. 36 of them were shortlisted and now the top 9 of them have made it to the finals, including Yellow Nepal. Top 3 will be declared as the winners based on public voting and each one of them will receive a cash prize of $5000 to start their own business.
An innovative app that caters to the Nepalese crowd to help them find restaurants and food deals in the market, their nomination and performance so far in the competi- tion is promising. The duo behind the app: Yellow Nepal are Anish Shrestha and Manisha Karmach- arya. We asked about them and their venture and they answered. Here are the excerpts.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself AS: Aah, I always find it hard to answer this question! Anish Shres- tha, software Engineer by profes- sion with four years of experience in software development, quit my day job six months back and start- ed a venture, Yellow Nepal. Most of the time I am either coding or pitching to people or writing.
Besides work, I love reading books, spending some quiet evenings with coffee, or hanging out with friends online or around the city.
MK: I am a software engineer
and I have been in this field for around 4 years. Before starting Yellow Nepal, I was in two other software companies.
Besides coding, I love to read books and travel to places. I hav- en’t been to many places, yet, but going to the remote parts of Nepal is definitely in my bucket list.
2. What inspired you to get this venture started?
MK: I have always wanted to work for myself. And when Anish told me about his idea, I liked it instantly. The number of people using smart phones is growing and the restaurants are looking for effective ways to make them- selves visible. So, tapping into this lucrative market seemed like a very good opportunity.
AS: Having failed my first venture five years back, I took some time to prepare myself before diving into another project. I was still in college at the time. I have been working out on the idea of Yellow Nepal for more than a year, but then gathered up the resources to work on it six months back.
For me starting the venture was more about the passion of wanting to do my own thing and refusing to do what everyone else was doing. The metrics showed that the mobile platform touched lives of people in everyday lives, which was something that I wanted to tap into. I wanted to connect people and food was the answer! With more than 8K restaurants
in Kathmandu and only 40 Lakh people, I saw an opportunity.
Before long, I had quit my day job to pursue my vision.
3. Do you believe people are more likely to have a satisfying experience in our country with Yellow Nepal to help guide them?
We have a huge responsibility to make our service satisfying, if not very exceptional right away. We want to help all the foodies and restaurant goers to decide on where to go, because we’ve all been in a situation where you just don’t know where to go out to eat. Users can make an informed decision regarding where to go by checking out the various services that different restaurants offer. We work hard not only to give the features that our users look for but also to provide an unforgetta- ble experience that they can get using our service.
4. How can a business improve their visibility on Yellow Nepal?
As for the restaurant business, we are seeking to build Yellow as an ultimate platform for Marketing and selling. Our App now has
over 1000 restaurants and 4000 thousand users already. With the services like user CheckIns, Re- views, Ratings, and engagements, Yellow has become a platform where people rely on getting recommendations on places to eat. This platform hence can make restaurant business more visible, engaging and ultimately more profitable.
5. Yellow Nepal has become the finalist in the Google
Business Groups stories competition. Tell us a bit about this contest; how you got into this, your expectations and your future plan if you win.
Google Business Group (GBG) has organized inspiring stories contest for the aspiring start-ups all over the world to select the people who are doing extraordinary things with technology, changing lives and creating opportunities. Out of the participants from more than fifty countries and hundreds of submissions, we find it fortunate to have been selected as one of the nine finalists for the competition.
After being selected as finalists, filmmakers from Google visited Nepal to create our profile video. With 9 finalists’ profile video online, the three global winners with the highest number of public votes will be eligible to win $5,000 for their venture and if they’re part of a Google commu- nity, $5,000 for their community group too.
The voting just ended and we are looking forward for the official announcement of the three win- ners. I hope we make it.
6. In your opinion, what do you think are the major rea- sons for business failures in Nepal?
AS: I cannot answer for any other businesses, but for the tech start- ups/companies in Nepal, I think we fail to look into the long term sustainability of the company.
We are still highly dependent on outsourcing which basically gives good money but then fails on the idea of working on our own product. For the product based innovative solution start-ups, I believe they’ve overestimated or underestimated the market.
7. Do you think that entre- preneurialism is something you’re born with or is some- thing that can be learned? What do you think was the case for you?
AS: I think it comes with how one is brought up. These days if you ask anyone from college, everyone wants to be their own boss and start a company! It might even have been made to appear a little more extravagant than it is. Doesn’t matter if it’s learned as you grow or inherited at birth, en- trepreneurship is not for everyone, it will break you and test you and keep you away from the rest.
I was born normal with average Nepali upbringing, but reading inspiring books and networking to more people made me want to be an entrepreneur. I started loving it with all my heart.
MK: I believe Entrepreneurship is contagious. A recent survey in US also shown, that people who know entrepreneurs are more likely to become entrepreneurs. But then again, it is also in human nature that they like to surround themselves with the likeminded people. So, it can be both, in-born or something that can be learned.
I’ve always been inspired by thE stories of those who had nothing at first and later, made it to the top with their strong desire and persistent effort. I also got many opportunities to go to many net- working events and meet lot of en- trepreneurs here, which inspired me to get into it.
8. What are the pros and cons of having a start-up here in Nepal? What were the difficulties you faced and how have things changed?
Start-up is not for everyone. It tests you and breaks you at the hardest times. With so much of deficits in Nepal, I believe we have enormous opportunities for the start-ups to work on. Relatively cheap resources, a virgin market and ample amount of opportuni- ties are the pros for start-ups in Nepal. While factors like an imma- ture market, no seed investments and no ideal examples of stories in Nepal are the cons of coming up with one here. Being tech savvy, Tech was the easy part but I had to spend a lot of sweat, blood and tears on educating people about our services
Doesn’t matter if it’s learned as you grow or inherited at birth, entre- preneurship is not for everyone, it will break you and test you and keep you away from the rest.
9. Any suggestions for entre- preneurs starting out today? MK: Never doubt yourself. The mistakes one make are inevitable for one to grow. And, the lessons one can learn from those mistakes are priceless.
AS: Don’t do it unless you are ready to face the consequences. People usually quit their 9 hours a day job to end up working
18 hours a day with sleepless nights and restless days. It’s a roller-coaster ride; don’t jump in unless you think you are ready.
If you are young or fierce, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You either make it through or learn it’s not for you.
10. What or who motivates you? AS: Me, 20 years from now!
MK: Having the need to feel a sense of accomplishment moti- vates me.
11. What’s next for Yellow Nepal?
We’ve not even scratched the sur- face of what we really plan to do. We want to make Yellow the ulti- mate platform for the restaurant business and restaurant goers. We are working on creating a massive information pool of restaurants and have users engage with them and personalize their eating behaviours in three months. After getting sufficient traction, we have a series of services planned that will be launched one at a time.
We’ve not even scratched the surface of what we really plan to do.
12. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
AS: F1Soft International has come to great heights, Yomari got acquired, Gresper is doing great, NepFlights are transforming the way we book plane tickets, Pi- coVico converts images to videos. There are many start-ups working hard to make an impact in Nepal.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE…
What would you say is your strongest trait?
MK: My ability to push myself beyond my limits to accomplish goals.
AS: I believe that I can survive in the worst of cases.
Being a business person, how important do you think it is to focus on personal grooming? AS: Well, it is really important if one wishes to be a business face for a company. But one phase of life, when you work 16 hours a day in computer coding, you just wish to be in beards and messy hairs and look nerdy! Occupational hazard!
MK: I think it is vital as it shows one’s professionalism. However I feel that rather than worrying about how I look, I find it import- ant to be conscious about the kind of image I am projecting.
Would you call yourself a fashion follower? How important do you think fashion is for your lifestyle? MK: I would not call myself a fash- ion follower. But I do think it is important be comfortable in what you are wearing and look good and proper at the same time.
What do you like to splurge on?
MK: I am a foodie. I love trying out new dishes and different cuisines.
AS: On food, basically. But work- ing on a start-up with less invest- ments and revenues yet to come, I don’t have a luxury to splurge on but when I do, it’s going to be gadgets, a lot of them!
What is the most valuable thing you own?
AS: Laptop and a Phone. My life hangs onto them.
MK: That would be my laptop.