Imparting skills to the people is not enough. “A doctor is only a doctor when he/she is able to get a patient, not when he/she gets a degree,” says Prakash Upreti, the founder of Sriyog.Com.
Having been active in the IT field for almost 16 years now, developing and upgrading new applications, Sriyog.Com is Prakash Upreti’s latest initiation that is fulfilling the needs at both the ends- it provides income generation opportunities to those willing to provide services and easily accessible facilities to those seeking the services. Blincventures.com got to know more about Sriyog.Com and the way it has been helping people, directly from Mr. Prakash. Read on to know about the insightful conversation we had with him.
1. How did the concept of Sriyog.Com ideate?
I am from Biratnagar and people always asked me to help them find various professionals like plumber, carpenter, astrologers because I was a local there. That is when the idea of creating an online platform that brings together the handyman services and another basic day to day services in one place struck me. So, I started Sriyog.Com in 2016 with 24 categories from Biratnagar, and then with time we have been adding other facilities and expanding to new locations.
2. How do you get all the professionals like astrologers, pandits, carpenters, plumbers to a common platform of yours?
Rather than bringing the professionals to one single platform, Sriyog.Com maintains the database of all these professionals in one place. We reach the professionals or those who have a link with them via Facebook advertisement. Similarly, we have also collaborated with organizations like CTEVT for this.
3. Can you take us through the process of how Sriyog.Com works?
Sure. So let’s say you’re looking for a carpenter but don’t have anyone in your contacts. So you can visit our website/application and enter the details regarding the type of service along with your location. Based on the information provided you’ll get the contact details of the professional from our database and get your work done. That is how Sriyog.Com operates.
3. Is there a mechanism to evaluate the services provided by the professionals, because at the end of the day their work effectiveness is directly linked to your brand image?
Very true. So what we have been doing is that we have made rating and review features available to our customers. In addition to this, we are currently working on developing a system whereby based on the customers’ reviews, our application/website will rank the professionals. This makes it easy for the customers to get the best service from the top-rated professionals, as well as motivate the professionals to provide quality services creating a win-win situation. Similarly, if any unfortunate event or controversy arises, we have a separate department to handle them.
4. How many professionals are present in your database as of now?
We have 20,000 professionals in total providing different services in different locations as of now. Initially, we started off with 76 categories and now we have merged it to 18 categories with 168 subcategories. In addition, Sriyog.Com also incorporates differently-abled individuals, marginalized women who have skills but are lacking opportunities. The differently-abled individuals can perform almost 16 to 17 different jobs under our subcategory and the women who lack education can perform around 13 jobs under the sub-categories giving them an income generation source.
5. So, what are Sriyog.Com’s unique selling points? What makes it different from others?
The AI system that we have incorporated is one of the USP that allows us to determine the best carpenter or best plumber or any other professional in any location based on the customer experience. In addition to this, the motto we are working with “sabai ka lagi rojgar” is another thing that makes us unique. We believe that our qualification should not be the only factor to determine the job opportunities available for us. Based on this value we have incorporated all the individuals with skills regardless of their age, qualification, gender, and physical ability to work as a part-time freelancer which makes us different.
6. Every business needs cash to operate. How are you generating revenue?
Sriyog.Com started off as a CSR of Pracas Infosys, our parent company but based on the people’s need we started operating it as a separate enterprise. Hence, all the financial aspects of Sriyog.Com takes place through Pracas Infosys. Likewise, software and IT is the only major investment required for Sriyog.Com which is again developed by Pracas Infosys. Also, we are working on developing Sriyog.Com into a Wikipedia model, where rather than focusing on the revenue we are focusing more on the social aspect, developing it as a solution to society’s problem. So revenue has not been a major concern for us but in the future, if we require funding for expansion, we plan to move to the freemium model whereby the professionals will have to pay a certain charge to be listed in our database.
7. What are the major challenges you are facing in this journey?
Initially, people were reluctant to use our services because of the no-charge business model we have, so making them aware of the reason for that was a challenge. Likewise, it was difficult reaching to the professionals after a month based on the contact details provided. Most of the time they tend to have migrated to foreign countries, or don’t pick up the call at all, or even if they do they deny being professionals. Similarly, another difficulty for us is to determine the number of times, a household or an individual has used a particular professional’s service via Sriyog.Com. To address this we are working on developing a booking system where the customers or those looking for professional services have to book the professionals via our website/application.
8. Is Sriyog.Com accessible all over Nepal?
Yes, we have been able to extend our service all over Nepal. Sriyog.Com is an open platform, so whoever wants to work can submit their contact details to us, location is barely a restriction here. Also, in a few months, we are planning to go global starting off with Kerala. The majority of work has been completed and we were working on the language conversion but due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are currently on pause.
9. Apart from the easy accessibility to the market and flexible work module, what extra benefits or advantages do the professionals get by being a part of Sriyog.Com’s database?
The very first benefit is that of pricing. We don’t charge any fee from the professionals, so they can charge the customers either on an hourly basis or as per the negotiation between the two parties. However, we do make sure that the customers are not overcharged by the means of the review feature that we have on our platform. In addition to this, in our upcoming version, we have introduced the booking features; so now the customers will have to book an appointment for a particular type of service, which will be recorded in the professional service provider’s calendar. This will allow them to know the number of services provided and revenue generated in a certain period. Further, we are also trying to incorporate cashless banking service in our system so that rather than receiving cash on hand, their income gets deposited to their banking account instantly.
10. What is your team’s strength?
We have a team of 11 people specialized in different areas. I am specialized in IT, similarly, one of my colleagues is specialized in finance and so on. So, we are a diverse team that has created a synergy making the operation of Sriyog.Com smooth.
11. Is there a significance behind the name Sriyog?
The term Sri holds a very significant meaning in Nepali culture. When starting a new task we Nepalese start off by saying “Sri Ganesh garne” as a sign of good luck. Similarly, yog literally means yoga which keeps us physically and mentally healthy. But we have added our touch to the word yog here. Every human being needs to earn money to survive and get basic facilities like food, clothes, and shelter and we always aim to be a platform that makes people financially stable so we came up with the name Sriyog.
12. You have been in the IT sector for almost 16 years now. What changes have you seen in this field?
IT is a dynamic field in itself, so changes are inevitable. Initially, when I came back from Hyderabad after completing my education, there were very few IT-related firms, the general public was not aware of the role IT played in making the day to day life simpler and also the internet penetration was low, almost minimal to be precise. But now the majority of companies, startups, government organizations have integrated IT in their business model and consider it to be an integral part. Likewise, even three years back the general public was not aware that the handyman service providers like plumber, carpenter, electricians could be found on google. But with time they have become aware of this, which is the reason Sriyog.Com and many other companies exist.
13. How has your entrepreneurial journey been so far?
It has been great. I feel fortunate to have been able to test my idea and help people. Also, the feedback from the people has made this journey more enriching. For me, Sriyog.Com is not the only mine, but it also belongs to each and every individual either looking to provide service or those seeking service.
Check out their website- Sriyog to know more about their services and to connect with them.
Interviewed and article by Trishna Shakya