Working in Kathmandu vs. New York City

I have been pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to work in both Kathmandu and New York City. I love both cities for their own reasons. The statements below are based on my experiences working in a technology company/teaching at a college in Kathmandu and working in technology companies/financial consulting firm/law office in New York City.

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For me, working at a growing technology company in Kathmandu has an underdog feeling to it. One is constantly reading online of major news happening in the US such as acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft , space tourism, commercial drones etc through tech blogs, YouTube etc. Being in Nepal, I felt that Nepal was highly underrated on the technology map of the world. We were not making newspaper headlines for advances in technology or doing innovative things with technology (at least not in a major way yet). I day dreamed of Google knocking down on a startup’s door, buying the company and becoming the first company being bought by Google in Nepal. When I attended a Startup Weekend Kathmandu or a Entrepreneurs for Nepal’s Last Thursdays event, I was always excited to hear and feel the hunger and enthusiasm of the youth. These events made me confident that we also have dynamic entrepreneurial individuals making an impact. In contrast, working in New York City makes me feel like I am where the action is. I walk down the street and people are rushing-rushing to be somewhere. Here, it seems like people are finding so many different and creative ways to make money. There are world renowned entrepreneurs, rising entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in every corner of New York City. When I attend a Salestech Meetup in Manhattan or a Nepalese in Entrepreneurship event in Queens, you get inspired by the backgrounds, achievements and passion of the people you meet at these events. What makes working in New York City exciting is the energy, the passion and the ambition of the people living here.

I will be sharing more of my experiences in the coming days relating and comparing many things Kathmandu and New York City. Stay tuned. 

 

 

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Computer Engineering Careers and Opportunities in Nepal

A good overview of Computer Engineering Careers and Opportunities in Nepal including salary ranges.

Basantapur Grub Trail

Kathmandu is filled with amazing eateries and spots that only locals know. I was craving to go to spots that only the locals of a certain area would know. Thus, going on this food crawl in Basantapur with Suman Maharjan was a good choice because he’s a local of this neighborhood and is knowledgeable about a lot of stuff.

So here we go. We met at Basantapur Durbar Square on Saturday afternoon. We initially created a short list of places that we wanted to visit. Then we created the route to visit those specific places and for the next two hours here was our journey.

FirIMG_0955st stop, a local samosa favorite Tip Top. Tip Top has been a staple to the Kathmandu food scene for quite some time. Many people opt to make a quick visit to Tip Top on their shopping trip to New Road. There is always a crowd at TipTop.

Suman at Tip Top restaurant

Nirmal at Tip Top restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

SeconIMG_0962d stop, a new burger joint called Busy burger. It was just that…busy. Kathmandu has witnessed a significant growth of burger joints especially in the last 3-5 years and the location of Busy burger makes it a convenient spot to munch on a delicious burger while on your shopping trip to the area. I opted for a fish burger and Suman had a spicy chicken burger. Both burgers were better than average.

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Third stop, we decided that a refreshing lassi would be the right choice after the burgers and samosas. Available in two sizes, small and large, the lassi is tasty, very sweet and with some hint of cashew/nuts. Later on I felt that the lassi would have been a better choice towards the end of the tour because it was filling to go to the next grub spot right away. Fourth stop on our foodie journey was the momo staple known as Sandar Momo. SIMG_0999andar Momo has been around for almost 27 years thus cementing itself as a must visit regional momo destination. Just looking at the people standing and enjoying delicious, yummy momos served on green leaves shaped like a bowl makes you wonder what the buzz is all about. We got ourselves some momos and poured some mild sauce over it.

IMG_0988Momos are a delicacy that you will find in any nook of Kathmandu. And you can’t say you have had Nepali food until you have had momos (chicken, buff, paneer, veg. etc). Almost the unofficial national food of Nepal and Nepalese worldwide-momos.

Fifth stop, Snowman Restaurant. Having just had momos, we decided to go a little light and got ourselves coffee cake and coconut cake plus coffee at the much packed Snowman. The packed atmosphere at Snowman hosted a vibrant young crowd-some singing while some enjoying their desserts. I thoroughly enjoyed the coffee cake but could not completely enjoy the coffee.

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Sixth stop, we went to Ranjana soda center. Located opposite of the New Road Pipalbot and behind Bishal Bazar, it is a walk inside and around some buildings. Ranjana’s been around the block since 2003 B.S. and locals come here for a smooth and crisp soda of different flavors. It was also exciting to see soda being prepared at the moment we visited the place.

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We decided to finish off our food adventure by visiting the V.I.P Pan Pasal located close to Ranjana’s. Tasty, chewy and prepared right infront of you, the special made pan was a treat to wrap up our food tour.

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Overall, Kathmandu’s food scene is diverse with blend of modern and authentic cuisines. I recommend you to explore the city, be adventureous and enjoy to the fullest what the city has to offer in terms of its food. You will always find new places to drink that special tea, eat that special momo or that special something just like the locals do. Eat Like A Local.

Photos by Suman Maharjan

Action: Yellow Nepal

Once in a while you get an idea in your head. And then you really believe in it and TAKE ACTION. Yellow Nepal has taken action and I’m proud to see Anish and Manisha along with their small team working passionately on their mobile app. Plus I love products that are made locally and have an impact globally. I voted for Yellow Nepal for Google Business Group’s (GBG) Stories Challenge.

The deadline to vote was DEC. 1

 

Anil Shah launching Anil Chitrakar’s book “Take The Lead”

Last year, Anil Shah was at the launch event of Anil Chitrakar’s book “Take the lead: Nepal’s future has begun.” Anil Shah shared his thoughts on the book and explained why it’s very important for the youth of Nepal to read it.

Rudra Pandey: What Nepali Tech Entrepreneurs Should Focus On

On a recent issue of VenturePlus, Rudra Pandey shared some insights on what Nepali tech entrepreneurs should focus on.  Rudra Pandey is the executive chairman of DeerWalk Inc.

It’s all about Software

“We don’t have the resources to build computer hardware, so I don’t see the point in trying to build them…..We have to focus on software….So this is the first thing our tech entrepreneurs should realize–our strength is in software.”

Consumer Applications

“…..However, with consumer applications we don’t have to limit ourselves to Nepal. The users can be from any part of the world. So I believe tech startups should focus on consumer applications. The market is huge.”

Think Small

“Most of us wait for this big idea that will change everything. We don’t need such big ideas.We can start small and build on that.”

Collective Bargaining

“One key strength of Nepalis is the culture of community. We are all one big community, and we need to capitalize on our capacity to collectively bargain.”

Quotes from VenturePlus Feature Story Issue 13, June-July 2014

Made in Nepal (Published on Republica)

Being involved in Nepal’s startup ecosystem, I am very passionate about listening to entrepreneurs talk about the ideas they are working on. These young and established entrepreneurs are building products and services to solve domestic problems, capitalizing on market inefficiencies and tapping opportunities at home and abroad. This is just an example of how much can be done right here in Nepal. I am optimistic about our present and future after having conversations with entrepreneurs and hearing about their ambitions and goals.

Young entrepreneurs Subrat Basnet and Amit Chaudhary are co-founders of Grepsr, a company specializing in web crawling service. They have international clients such as The Boston Consulting Group, GE Capital, and Target, and are doing very well in their second year. Subrat wrote an article in VenturePlus magazine titled The audacity to dream big. In the article, Subrat emphasized the massive opportunity for tech entrepreneurs in Nepal to make an impact on a global scale. He explains that with the growth of local talent, low risk investment and low operational cost, among other things, tech entrepreneurs can really compete in the global market if they have great ideas and the right marketing. I could not agree more.

I like how Subrat is thinking, and most importantly, emphasizing that Nepal be put on the tech map. That ambition in itself is laudable. But to put Nepal on the tech map, we need more companies from Nepal like Grepsr and an ecosystem that builds and nurtures quality startups.

Another up-and-coming startup from Nepal is 11Beep. The 11Beep team of Bimal Maharjan and Vivek Bhusal are working to build an anonymous mobile social network. CEO Maharjan is an active participant at startup events around Kathmandu. He even flew to Italy for a four month bootcamp called TechPeaks—The People Accelerator. There he was able to feel the excitement and challenges of working on an idea alongside other entrepreneurs, designers and hackers. He is currently in Kathmandu, intensely working with Vivek on 11Beep and building a presence in Nepal and India initially before venturing to other countries. Bimal is also keen to share his experiences at TechPeaks which will benefit other local entrepreneurs.

Another idea that was developed in Nepal and has gained some ground locally with aggressive plans to expand internationally is CashOnAd. CashOnAd is a mobile advertising platform that is working to revolutionize the advertising world. In early January 2014, the company placed a one-page advertisement in leading national daily newspapers emphasizing the fact that the product was built with pure Nepali talent. In the advertisement, they were looking to hire 72 people to fill various positions such as mobile application developers, senior web platform developers, quality assurance engineers, and call-center executives, among others. The company is set to launch the service in multiple countries. CashOnAd’s android app on Google Play has been installed in 50,000-100,000 devices to date. With the mobilization of local talent and the right growth strategy, CashOnAd has the potential to be very scalable and profitable in a short period.

Companies such as Grepsr, 11Beep and CashOnAd are pioneering a new era of tech entrepreneurship in Nepal. They are dreaming big and thinking of conducting business beyond the borders of Nepal and competing globally. There are also other tech companies making their presence felt in the domestic market as well as chasing international market. You will find plenty of stories of trailblazing entrepreneurs in Nepal.

There are some common challenges tech companies in Nepal face in terms of taking their product international and growing the brand. The most obvious one is financial. If an idea or product solves a problem and provides value, the target customers need to be aware of the product or service. International customers can be reached through Google AdWords, Facebook ads, advertisements in relevant platforms, among other ways. Financial leverage is necessary for this, and the company should have adequate capital to properly market the product or service.

Another challenge is talent. We have a plethora of colleges with thousands of students graduating every year. However, tech companies have a hard time finding the right talent when necessary. For example, CashOnAd is looking for 10 Mobile Application Developers, and one of their requirements is one year of iOS/Android mobile application development experience. It will probably be easier to find applicants with Android mobile application development experience rather than with iOS. Because Android is more popular in Nepal than iOS, most mobile application developers are experienced in Android rather than iOS.

Another challenge is publicity. Given that the company is based in Nepal, to expand globally you need a network or presence outside of Nepal. Getting covered by popular tech blogs, websites, international media etc. will help create awareness of Nepal based companies. The Startup Weekend Kathmandu platform is a good one, and ideas can get some initial traction through its wide network and reach.

When you dream big, you take challenges as they come. Tech entrepreneurs are becoming more ambitious, focused on putting Nepal on the tech map, despite the challenges in taking their product into the global market. Soon, it would not be surprising to hear of big ideas from Nepal making a global impact. In an article on VenturePlus’s fifth issue, Grepsr’s Subrat suggested seven things to keep in mind while setting up a tech company in Nepal: focusing on doing one thing very well, branding well, having a unique offering, scalable business model, global thinking, flat hierarchy with a good working culture, and getting inspired by what’s happening globally. 11Beep’s Bimal was also very passionate about sharing his experience at TechPeaks and was truly inspired by the participants, speakers and mentors there. You can really feel his motivation to make meaningful global impact when you hear him speak of 11Beep.

With quality product and right expansion strategy, a handful of tech companies from Nepal are venturing into the global stage and starting to make an impact. Though challenges come with the territory, Nepal’s tech companies have a remarkable opportunity to take a bite out of the global tech scene. Let’s support the dreamers, visionaries, innovators, trailblazers and disrupters who want to put Nepal on the global tech map. We can all be truly proud to say that they were Made in Nepal.