Inspiring Lab brings positive social impact with AI in Nepal

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inspiring-lab

Inspiring Lab is working towards bringing changes in the society using the AI products. It is working towards some serious problems that we have to go through due to ignorance, lack of sufficient information and the ineffectiveness of our government. 

1. Tell me about your journey for starting this venture? When did it start? 
Me and three of my friends from college came together and started this venture. Due to the same background and interest, we initiated the venture and are currently working on the research and development. The company is named as Inspiring Lab Pvt. Ltd where we develop AI products. And using the AI products we are planning to minimize the wastes disposed in landfills. This is the idea we presented at the Smart Urban Technology Challenge (STUC) and is still in the nascent phase.

Under the Inspiring Lab Pvt. Ltd, we have other numerous products which are all AI based. Five months back, we developed a product called Tulanna which is made focusing on the telecommunication industry. Tulanna compares the services provided by Ncell, NTC and other smart sims. To be more specific, let’s say you have to buy a voice pack and you have both Ncell and NTC sim in your phone. Now what Tulanna does is it compares the packages and suggest you the more appropriate one. Tulanna is yet to be implemented, we are currently working on it.

Next we have the AI Expo line where we have RTVTR product i.e. Real Time Vehicle Tracking and Recognition System. This is our main product. We started with Optical Character Recognition(OCR) which converts any written document into digital format. One fine day somewhere in Bhaktapur we found a person who was tracking the vehicles manually by noting the numbers in a notebook. That is when we started thought of making the process easy, accurate and more feasible and started RTVTR. It is ready for implementation and we are communicating with Nepal Police and the government. 

We are also working on a mental health related idea. It is still in the research phase. The app we will be developing will act as a self-reflection tool where you will get to reflect on your daily activities and emotions and analyze them over the period. 

Next we have an ATM payment system where you can recharge and make online payments using the ATM. But the competition has increased so we are discarding this service from our product line. 

2. When did Inspiring Lab start? What is your current staff strength?
We registered the company in November 2014 but we officially started with our own office in 2016 only.  We have a team of 8 people working in this idea as of now. 

3. What is the business model for waste management idea that you are working on?
The waste management starts from the household; so, we will be distributing dustbins to the households. This will be supported by the bank, however in exchange of the dustbins the household will be required to open an account. All the transaction then takes place through the bank. In addition to this there will be different types of dustbins one for the organic waste, the recycled waste and the unwanted waste, so that the wastes can be separated. And if the wastes can be recycled or if it can be converted into organic manure then we will supply them to the concerned parties. Likewise, the households can also get a certain portion of the product produced using the organic manure or they also have the option of buying back the recycled products at a discounted price. 

Apart from this, we also keep the track of the waste collected from each household. We will be collecting data related to the amount of wastage from each household, the type of waste, the quantity of organic waste from each household and so on. This will give us an estimation of the wastage that we will be collecting from a particular locality or community. Furthermore, the customers can access the amount of waste that they have disposed of using the application and plan the waste pickups. 

4. Where will the wastes collected go?
For the waste dumping site, we are planning to lease a land. Initially we are planning to lease out the land for three years but if we generate sufficient revenue during the 3 years’ period then we are planning to renew the contract for 3 more years that is 6 years in total. If we are able to do this a limited land will be used as dumping site. It is better to use one particular area than having more than one dumping sites. I believe that the government also goes through the same process but the only difference is that they separate the wastes only when they have been dumped in the dumping site whereas we firstly separate the waste and those that cannot be used are only dumped.

5. What challenges are you facing?
Getting the investment is our biggest challenge. Apart from that making the people involved in waste management understand that we aren’t here to take the market but are here to work towards creating an organized system to make it easier for them is another hurdle in our way. They feel we are here to take their jobs so they are hesitant to work with us. Likewise, the manpower who will be picking up the wastes from households will need to learn to use the application which can be another challenge.

6. What is your revenue generation model?
The money given by the households for waste pickups will be our major source for revenue. Apart from this we will also be investing in the recycled and upcycled products which will generate the revenue. Likewise, the reusable plastics, metals will also be sold. 

7. What are the key needs of your company?
The manpower to give shape to my ideas are currently the biggest need. Due to the absence of the experts in this field, I was not able to pilot this idea of waste management to the government. So, I am in need of manpower who can work with me in this idea. 

8. How has your entrepreneurship experience been so far? 
Challenging. There were a lot of hurdles that we had to overcome. It is difficult to establish a startup in Nepal. There are complicated and lengthy legal procedures we need to through and we are often not aware about them. So, we were charged a lot of fines when registering Inspiring Lab. Likewise, it is also difficult to develop organic products in Nepal due to lack of technical knowledge. But being innovative and bringing change is really good feeling and only entrepreneurship can do this. So at the end of the day, I am really proud that I am in this area. 

For more information about Inspiring Lab, contact Rajeev Bista at info@inspiringlab.com.np.

Interviewed and article by Jyotika Shah.