“Without proper address and knowing where your people are, a city, a town, a locality and a nation cannot be smart,” says Bishal KC, founder of Thegana service. As a cloud and security architect himself, Bishal KC has found a unique way to bridge the gap between public and private information and use the already existing information for the greater good.
Read on to find out more about how he has been doing this.
1. How were Thegana services ideated?
Two years ago, I was going to meet one of my friends at Patan Dhoka but I didn’t know the way to his house so I asked the local people and they gave the typical direction which sounded very simple. As I started following it, the journey became a complete nightmare. I couldn’t figure out the way so I finally gave up and called my friend to pick me up.
This particular experience made me think of ways to address the issue and after months and months of research I came up with Thegana services. Now, it has already been 2 years since its ideation and we officially launched the application on April 14, 2019.
2. Can you tell us more about Thegana services?
Thegana is a mobile application, available in the android and IOS operating system, that provides you the address of the places you are looking for. Every smartphone has GPS technology, so we utilize that and give you the address of the place you want.
Furthermore, the address is something that is public yet private, and sadly the government is still behind in data collection and storage, especially when having accurate address information. So, Thegana service creates a mechanism, a system, and a process to capture, collect, and store the information using cloud sourcing.
3. So, is it similar to Google Maps?
I wouldn’t say it is similar and also I am not here to replace a giant like Google. Thegana does what Google has not been able to do here in Nepal. Thegana gives a unique address to businesses, households who use our application. To be specific, when the users use our application for let’s say getting a direction to a place, then unlike Google along with the direction we also provide a street number, ward number, and the municipality that specific place belongs to. We have integrated both ward and community information which google does not provide. Also one of the motives of providing this information, is to make users aware of the importance of addresses and its implications in development as well as on our daily lives, where sadly most of us don’t even know the ward number of the place where we live and as a responsible citizen we need to know this.
4. How do you get all this information?
We collect the information for the users themselves. When the users log in to our application, we ask for their address and based on that we create a unique alphanumeric code that now becomes their Thegana or address. So, the users are our major information source among others like Google and other mapping platforms. However we don’t ask for Personal Identifier Information (PII) other than those information users have already been made public.
5. What makes Thegana service unique?
One thing that makes us unique is the fact that we have tailored the solution for Nepal as a whole not just major cities like Kathmandu, Biratnagar, and so on. So, people all over Nepal can use our application and have their unique Thegana address.
Additionally, instead of the metric system used by the Nepal government for address purposes, we generate unique codes, and instead of relying on the street numbers and house numbers, we rely on geotagging already existing streets and addresses. Furthermore, since the source of our information is the users themselves, we can provide information to the government itself regarding the missing street numbers, apartment numbers, and the like. These are things that make Thegana services unique.
6. Isn’t Thegana a freely downloadable application? Then, how does Thegana sustain?
Yes, Thegana is a free application and in order to sustain, we integrate with the private entities. We sell our services to business entities and charge certain fees from them.
Moreover, we also provide the facility of customizing the addresses. For instance, rather than using the alphanumeric code like KTM1234, now the users can have their own customized address like KTMRAM. And for customization, we charge a certain fee.
Likewise, along with the Thegana service the users can also buy products like address plates, which have bar codes, are digital and laser printed, from us. This would be another revenue generation medium but this is completely optional.
7. Who are your major target customers?
My targets are the users in general because Thegana service is something that is needed by everyone. And since every corporation needs to survive that’s where business houses come in as our target market. But there are no preferences between which I want more, the major motive is to give back to the community.
8. How do you address the issue of privacy maintenance since Thegana services use users’ information?
We do ask for users’ addresses but we don’t use them elsewhere. Also, the users don’t have to create an account with us to use Thegana services. They use social media accounts and we use the information that has already been made public by the users. We get your address of the place where you live but we don’t share that you live in that particular house. Further, being a security consultant myself, I take these things very seriously.
9. What are the major challenges in this journey?
There is still a lack of understanding of the policy level. We are revolving around the metric system which is still very advanced for a nation like us and the policymakers have not been able to understand this. Thus, making them understand this and the need for an alternative like Thegana service is a major challenge.
Also, making people realize the importance of address, what it is, what it can do, how it can help you is another difficult thing. People resist change and bringing people out of the mentality of address not being important is another big challenge.
10. What are your future plans?
Last week we released our latest app with more additional features and additional information. So now our focus is to get the businesses to use our service. We basically want more people to understand what Thegana does, and why an address is important and make them aware, so we are thinking of media marketing.
Apart from this, I want to revive the postal system in Nepal. We are all moving into the digital age, businesses have become online, and I think the government can actually take advantage of postal service for this. Moreover, the government is giving various services to the general public, one of them is regarding the passwords and birth certificates. In this regard, what is happening in the case of Nepal is that people have to wait a day or two days to get the documents. So what I am planning is to use postal service for this along with the integration of Thegana service. With people having their own unique address via Thegana service, the government can get the documents delivered to the people making the service effective while ensuring privacy and prevention of issues like hacking, information manipulation, and so on.
11. How is Thegana and KTM Hello related?
Thegana service is the company and KTM Hello is the alphanumeric address that we have generated for the company. The first 3 letters indicate that district which is Kathmandu in our case and the latter represents the location, which we have kept “Hello”.
12. What do you have to say regarding the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Nepal?
The entrepreneurial ecosystem is in an evolving stage here in Nepal. I see a hunger in the younger generation to do something and work in the field of entrepreneurship. And this has both pros and cons but the negative side is being ignored. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur, so it is hard to find good people to work for you and the next thing is everyone is in a race to become rich and famous without understanding the market. Everyone is involved in the same field which is dividing the customer power. All in all, I think it should not be a fashion, it should be a necessity.
For more information about this company, please go to their website- Thegana Services or connect with Bishal at bishal.kc@thegana.