“In the past, we had to push technologies to the customers but now the customers themselves demand and use the technologies. There has been a drastic change in the mindset of Nepalese ensuring the growth of Nepal towards the Digital World” says Umesh Sharma, Managing Director of Tuki, Eagle Eye IT Service Pvt. Ltd and IT Director of Malika Incorporate Pvt. Ltd. Having worked in multiple sectors, he believes IT is that one sector that provides him with happiness and satisfaction.
Read on to know more about him, his journey and his ventures- Tuki and Malika, working for the digitization of Nepal.
1. Can you tell us about your ventures?
Eagle Eye or Tuki was established in 2014 and Malika was established in 2018. We offer a group of hardware as well as software devices combined together to form a new idea or new concept of digital Nepal. Currently, we have worked with traffic police, Nepal Army, 20+ municipalities, 113+ schools, and 7+ banks, so we provide all these diverse institutions the needed modern technologies. For instance, because of our service, the municipalities have become paperless, the banks can now issue instant ATM cards to the customers and traffic police can use e-challan. So, we are basically working in a way whereby we are fulfilling the market demand technologically.
2. What are the services you offer?
We are the partner of US-based company Zebra. It’s quite famous with printers, not those used in offices but security printers like ATM card printing, chip encoding, industrial printers used in steel and iron industries. Moreover, we are working on providing banks with two major solutions- instant printing solution, multi-functional kiosk, and ATM machines. Apart from this, we also provide software to educational institutions.
3. Where are the offices for Malika and Eagle Eye located?
We have two different offices. Our head office is located at Koteshwor and our regional office is located at Nepalgunj with 40+ team members. Additionally, we have an office in Dhangadi. Actually, we started off from Nepalgunj and then expanded here in Koteshwor.
4. What are the major challenges in running the business?
The first and foremost is ignorance and lack of skilled and qualified manpower. The government is trying to push technology and digitization inside the government institutions and offices but the people are not willing to use it. Likewise, the province and state governments are more focused on investing in those areas that have instant results. This mindset has made it difficult for us to aware of the people, the government and private institutions about the long term benefits.
The second challenge is competition. It is often said that IT companies are like mushrooms, they increase in great numbers for a few years and then eventually dissolve. I believe this has made it difficult for us to maintain credibility in the market and among our customers. In addition to this, being freshers in the enterprise system would be another challenge, the banking sectors prioritize the well-established companies.
5. What makes Malika Incorporate Pvt. Ltd different from others?
Whenever we are involved in anything, be it starting a company, it is vital to have the long term goals specified. And I can proudly say that we are one of those companies that have our long term goals well specified and communicated among team members.
Moreover, Malika has a great team and passionate people which is one thing that makes it different and unique. Further, I personally don’t have a second option, IT is the only option for me. So I have chosen to dedicate my entire career to IT and Malika.
Also, all our 40 staff are from IT backgrounds whom we have also groomed ourselves, so the employee turnover rate at Malika is almost null. This clearly indicates that our staff is satisfied and when employees are satisfied it results in excellent work performance, excellent service, and happy customers. Further, our 8 BODs have not only injected their money but they also very well relate with the mission and vision of the company. So, the work atmosphere we have been able to create is something that makes us different.
6. Were there difficulties when bringing in fresh graduates as a part of your team?
We go through a long session of interviews and during this process we clearly see enthusiastic candidates who will be suitable for the work culture we have created and for our organization. To be honest I haven’t faced difficulty in this particular area till now. What I think is that it is best to have fresh graduates in your organization because when your staff is fresh graduates you can mold them the way the organization requires which in long run not only benefits the organization but the students as well.
7. You talked about IT companies mushrooming which has created a kind of skepticism. So how have you been ensuring credibility and trust among your customers in the midst of increased mistrust?
As of now, we have been able to generate trust by showing our expertise to the customers. Likewise, we have been improving the quality of our services by leveraging the experience that we have garnished from past projects. Likewise, I believe that visibility is a necessity for every company, so we have been participating and attending numerous events which in return has been a great learning experience. Last and most important is team strength and the bonding that has played a major role in meeting the clients’ and customers’ needs and generating trust.
8. Have there been any discrepancies in the target customers that you initially planned and as of now? Have you gained anything from this?
Yes, there have been discrepancies. When we initially started, we targeted the educational institutions which according to us had the fund to adapt and use the technologies we offer but that was just an assumption we had made which failed. So, after proper decision making and research, we entered the governmental sector where we made paperless municipalities, property tax software, digital notice boards, on-demand touch panels and many more. This particular leap raised our graph exponentially then we slowly entered the hardware sector and till now, fortunately, there has been no turning back.
This particular experience has taught me some great things. The first is that when you are constantly involved in something, you get your customers back; not only this, they seek greater and more services from you. Secondly, you can change your steps but you need to make sure that your goal remains the same.
9. Can you name some of the places where your services have been used?
I don’t exactly remember the places but our paperless municipal service has been used in 5 different municipalities within the valley, and 23 outside the valley. In Province 5. Pokhara Municipality is also using our service and ward number 13 has been completely digitized. Likewise, the Kailari Municipality of Kailali district has also become completely digitized which includes 8 wards.
Similarly, Greenland English School, Bridgewater School/College, Gandaki Boarding School, Army Sainik School, Tikapur Polytechnic Institute are few of the educational institutions using our services. So, all together we have 113 educational institutions around Nepal using our service.
10. Is there any specific reason for targeting the market outside the valley?
Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, and Kavre together have only 33 municipalities out of 753 municipalities, so we are targeting the market that has more consumers. We are basically using a reverse strategy.
11. Any special customer experience you’d like to share with us?
A CTEVT School needed a mobile application but I knew that it wouldn’t provide any value to the school and the students. Rather I proposed the principal a software that would give live notification about the student’s attendance which was far cheaper than what the principal had wanted. Here, I was just doing my job providing honest recommendations to my customer but he was so pleased that he called us in a program that had organized and honored us. So, that is something really close to my heart.
12. How has your entrepreneurial journey been so far?
There have been ups and downs, I have been a part of numerous sectors- I have tried my hands in the hospitality sector, family business and so on but I have always had IT at heart and minds. So, I am fully involved in IT now. Yes, the journey was challenging but I would choose IT over anything else over again.
Interviewed and Article By Trishna Shakya