Chetan Neupane is the founder of AP Technology, a technology development company that presented their idea of the Smart Dustbin at the Smart Urban Tech Challenge (SUTC). It is a novel approach to contribute to Nepal’s waste management issue because these dustbins are designed to segregate waste automatically and are connected to devices that inform the user about the quantity and composition of the waste. This is the first phase of the project and depending on its success he hopes to implement the same idea on a larger scale. Developing methods to automate waste segregation is crucial as segregation itself is one of the biggest issues when it comes to waste management. Continue reading to hear more about the organization and Mr. Neupane’s plans for this project.
1. Could you give us a general introduction to your organization and idea?
The name of our company is AP Technology and it has been registered for a few years now. We work on tasks such as creating websites and designing mobile applications as well as other specific product based designs. We have five people on our team right now and the idea we presented at the SUTC was for the Smart Dustbin. We wanted to design a waste receptacle that would segregate waste automatically and be connected to your device through an app. The dustbin automatically senses the type of waste material and segregates the waste into the degradable or non-degradable section. Since we have visit Nepal coming up we want the waste bins to contribute to the general aesthetic of the city. This dustbin is exclusively designed for specific areas in urban settlements. We plan on using IoT for the operation of the device. We have people managing the database because we want to be able to manage the data or if there is a malfunction with the bin someone is alerted right away. We also want to create a system that can be easily handed over to the government if need be.
2. On what scale did you plan to implement this?
Initially, we wanted to manufacture these for the private sector. All the components would be imported and we would do the assembling. We had to start with smaller audiences and designs to determine what the response might be. Over time we would start implementing this in the public sector as well. It’s popular in developed countries, particularly at locations such as airports and shopping malls.
3. Why the interest in waste management?
We have neglected an important issue for far too long. There are diseases rampant in the valley right now which are a result of our waste management issue. It is uncommon for diseases like dengue to be as prevalent in Kathmandu as they were this year. People are facing a lot of difficulties because of this, so we wanted to contribute. However, we also wanted to do a project that was feasible for us.
4. What were the challenges you experienced when you first started the company?
There are a lot of challenges when we first established the company, most of the company employees were busy with their jobs that they didn’t want to quit, so we had to hire some staff. I wanted to create a space that allowed for more women to work in the tech development field so I employed more women at the office. Our business was going quite well initially but as people found more opportunities they left and we restructured our company. A few of us took control and started working on a freelance basis.
5. How do you plan on financing this project?
We haven’t detailed that out yet. This project was quite significant for us because the competition was a platform for us to learn more about what our capacity was. It also put our identity on the market and gains more publicity. We are trying to focus on our degrees as well, I’m completing a double master’s degree right now. We have a design for the product.
6. How do you feel about owning your own business?
I like it much better than having a job because you get a chance to explore your own creativity, and most importantly you aren’t time-bound. At a regular job, it is hard to stay even a little after 5 but in this scenario any amount of time you spend working with your friends is fun. However, it is incredibly difficult because companies that design websites and web applications are so common now. People are willing to do the work for lower and lower prices but at the end of the day, customers are going to look to established companies to get quality work done.
7. Do you have any further comments?
I think having partial knowledge on a particular topic is bad, you really need to inform yourself before starting a new endeavor. People need to have in-depth knowledge about their subject before they decide what goals they want to pursue. You need to understand everything from the very basics because when you have to defend your point or your work, it becomes much easier. Regardless of what your area of specialization is, Nepal also has a lot of opportunities.
We are very much in the initial phases of developing our product, so if anyone is interested in this or any other IT projects please do reach out and perhaps we could collaborate.
For more information about this company, email Chetan Neupane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interviewed and article by Jyotika Shah.