After Startup Weekend Kathmandu
The winning team from the first Startup Weekend Kathmandu, Team Parikshya had a great idea to begin with. Can they handle real world problems and let their idea see the light of day?
Talk to the members of Team Parikshya, and you can tell that there is a quiet but powerful solidarity amongst the group. The sort of solidarity that comes from spending 3 days together amidst continuous debating, coding, planning– all of it to transform an idea from a simple identified need to a full blown business concept.
Startup Weekend Kathmandu
The first of its kind to take place in Nepal, StartUp Weekend Kathmandu (SUWK) is part of a ‘global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures’ – in short, a literal boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs. The keyword here is aspiring, as the majority of participants, including Team Parikshya, have no experience in creating business plans, let alone running a company.
Over 3 days, 15 teams would work on creating sustainable business models for their ideas with help from various coaches.
Everest KC, a 3rd year engineering student at Pulchowk’s Institute of Engineerin, explained that he came up with the idea of offering practice papers for prospective engineering and medical students, when he himself was preparing for his engineering entrances exams, “There were multiple hurdles. Most practice tests are held on Saturdays, which might not be convenient for many. Secondly, there is no feedback on your exam so you don’t know which problems you got wrong and where exactly you made mistakes. And third, you get results after a week. On the whole, the process is inefficient for students who wand to practice on their own time and receive immediate feedback.” The idea was to create a resource center for students to prepare for entrance exams.
After his idea was selected, the organizers asked Everest about the combination of members required for his idea. “In the beginning, I was just asking for programmers. Thankfully, the organizers persuaded me to choose business guys as well”. The final team is Everest, Sushant, Subit and Bibek handling the technical side (programming, website desigc), while Prabesh, Prabhat and Tenzing are responsible for the marketing and financial aspects.
Although the idea seemed simple, the team had a slight panic attack when their original plan of charging Rs.10 per paper through SMS didn’t materialize as Nepal Telecom doesn’t allow SMS services to charge more than Rs.5 per SMS. Prabhat Duwadi shares: “That incident was a perfect example of how you have to constantly be on your toes while working on any entrepreneurial idea. Furthermore, every mentor would provide an insight we had overlooked, so we were constantly tweaking our ideas.
After being declared winners, the members met up the next day to unanimously decide to work together. Although most of the members are studying, they delegated tasks efficiently and are working towards deadlines to keep them motivated.
Currently they plan to focus on prospective engineering and medical students as there are 25,000+ students who appear for these exams annually. There is a debate amongst the team on deciding on their source of revenue: an advertisement based mode, where the papers would be free, versus a subscription based one, where students would have to buy practice papers, perhaps, even a combination of both. “We are creating financial projections for the different options,” reveals Prabesh Dhakhal, who is involved in the financial aspect of the idea. They are also being guided by Brijendra Joshi (Bizcraft Solution) and Pravin Raj Joshi (Brihaspati Vidhyasadan) in the execution process. The latter two initiated Startup Weekend in Kathmandu.
It’s a ruthless world
One of the most important lessons that the team received from the weekend was how ruthless the real world can be. After winning at SUWK, Tenzing went online to buy the domain for parikshya.com but was shocked to see the name already registered by Nepsquare – a company specializing in web/mobile application development – with a number to contact them. When he called the number, the person on the receiving end invited the team to “get in touch and perhaps work together”. Tenzing says, “The team got together to discuss the development and collectively decided that we would do it on our own. We were naïve to think that no one would go ahead and register it before us.”
With able mentors, a good head on their shoulders and a reality check that shook off any assumptions they had, the winning team is being watched by the young entrepreneurs’ community here. How they take it forward now is the real test for Team Parikshya.