An IT graduate who has worked in the development and events management sector for more than 3 years, Himanshu Jung Bista is now the founder of a growing tech company- Visionalaya Technology. Interested to dig deeper into his journey from a student to an employee to a successful business founder? Dive into this article as we unravel the conversation we had with him some weeks back.
1. What is Visionalaya about and what is it’s backstory?
According to the data published by the Education ministry, we have a lot of IT students leaving the country for better employment opportunities. So our goal with Visionalaya technology is to reduce the brain drain happening in the country and provide better IT education to students, residing mainly outside the valley.
So, Visionalaya in simple terms is an initiation by a group of progressive thinkers who want to close down the technological gap happening between the capital and rest of the cities in Nepal. Through Visionalaya, we want the whole of Nepal to take a leap in the technical field. Before starting Visionalaya, we used to manage events independently and take up different projects
Moving on to its backstory, we were a group of friends who took up organized events independently and worked on different projects. All of us were interested in entrepreneurship and information technology and were trying to create a link between those two.
So, early 2019, we went outside the valley for recreational purposes but we found our opportunity there. We saw that technology was limited only within Kathmandu and the cities outside were lacking even simple technologies like payment gateways. While discussing this gap, we realized this was because of lack of quality education. We thought of ideas to eliminate this gap and that’s when we conceptualized a digital literacy program. We partnered with the local government and public schools outside the valley and came up with our first training program. That’s pretty much the first few steps of how Visionalaya came to be
KNOW about the Digital divide from the man himself, HERE
2. What are your services as of now?
Currently we offer Trinity package workshop, Visionalaya web, Idea mela and Imminent site. We started our services with Trinity Package workshop where we offered technical knowledge to teachers from primary to bachelors levels in schools outside the valley. The workshop lasts for three days with more than 7 hours of training where we teach even the basics of technology such as how to use a projector and smart boards in classrooms. At the end of every session, we conduct a certain type of impact assessment survey and so far we’ve seen a 90% success rate.
Through Visionalaya web, we develop software solutions based on the client’s requirements that include Management Information System, automated attendance system and other CRM products. Moving on to one of our major services, Idea Mela is an event dedicated to networking and idea sharing where we polish and refine startup ideas before presenting them to the investors. So far, we have organized Idea Mela 12 times since our operations at random intervals. Now we plan to do 4 Idea Melas a year.
Lastly, we have Eminent site which is dedicated to providing website hosting services to companies.
3. How were you able to organize 12 Idea Mela in such a short span of time?
Well it’s a humble brag but giving you a brief background, Visionalaya was started by a group of friends who were trying to cover multiple things at the same time. I was an employee somewhere else and was learning how to run a business alongside. Me and my friends were working day and night after college approaching schools and colleges to provide our services, for free! So, I would say Idea Mela was conceptualized and organized even before we started operating officially. It’s very rare to find work at start especially given our age and doubts on credibility. So, whenever we used to get work, we used to get it done without delay as we had the pressure to prove ourselves and weren’t in a position to say no.
4. How long has the company been into operations?
We started in Feb 2018 with an event called Himanshu Jung Bista presents Out of the Box that marks our genesis. From there, we went to Otharo incubation program at King’s College where our idea evolved and in 2019 October 25, we got registered as a legal company in Nepal.
5. What is Visionalya’s investment model like?
Yes! To be honest, we’re basically a zero investment model. I’m not sure if that’s a thing but we’re trying to make it so. While starting out, we didn’t even have enough cash to make a company stamp. Our first wave of income came in when we started making websites which our team worked days and nights for. Later when we provided our first trinity package workshop, we had enough to structure the company and pay for human resources.
To add on this, we also finished off in top three at Otharo so we got funding from there too. Right then, we had also got Amazon Web Service worth $5000 through a company called Genese. We also managed to come in fourth place among 3000 companies around the globe in this competition organized by Emory University and got a huge grant. I think going from a zero investment company, now we can pay salaries to more than 13 employees.
6. Is everyone in your team from a tech background?
I really love it when someone asks me this question because I get to proudly say that we’re not and in fact, we’re a diverse team and that’s something I really love about my team. We have people from all sorts of backgrounds and not just tech.
7. What are the challenges you faced while starting the company and how did you overcome them?
One of the challenges that I faced at the beginning was turning my idea into a business. As I come from a tech background, I didn’t know the basics of running a business. So, I took up jobs to understand the business environment and even reached out to mentors. I would say any entrepreneur needs to be knowledgeable in the field to start a business.
The second challenge that I faced was in terms of credibility. Trust and positive hearsay matters a lot in the tech field but given our age and experience, we had a challenge to prove ourselves. Luckily, our generous mentors and partnership with the government helped us overcome this obstacle.
Lastly, as new entrepreneurs, we faced challenges in terms of team cohesion as we have a team of people from diverse backgrounds. We also found it difficult to go through legalities of the company as its very complicated and frustrating at times. Nevertheless, by participating in the Otharo Incubation program, we were able to learn strategies for effective team building andd also make networks with people who knew lawyers and CAs who helped us in legal matters.
8. Any message for aspiring entrepreneurs?
A lot of times, we feel like there’s already a company that’s offering certain services/products in the market. We think that all the niches are already covered so we need to be very innovative if we want to solve the market’s problem. But that’s not true. Even if the solution is already offered, there’s so much a company needs to do in order to be accessible to the market. Take the issue of proper management as an example, which a lot of Nepali companies are still far behind on. So, there’s a lot of touch on and to improve. Just keep an eye for them. Plus, a lot of experienced entrepreneurs and mentors are always ready to help you out so I’d say this is the right time to start something of our own.
9. What are your future plans for Visionalaya?
We have promised that we’ll be going to expand forever. In the coming days, we are doing a couple of things. After lockdown happened, innovation became limited to homes so we launched Visionalaya Counseling and Growth Server. We have planned to do resume and CV training and are also organizing an hour with an expert which is a 10 part webinar to help people get off the stress and make them interested in tech.
Besides these, we’re planning to add Visionalay Human Resource along with Visionalaya Engineering. Visionalaya HR is going to be a platform for HR who will be helping startups and existing businesses structure or restructure their organization. Visionalaya Engineering will be dedicated to helping engineering students get into business and entrepreneurship. However, this is in baby phase and nothing is decided for sure but if it goes on then you’ll hear from us for sure. Also it’s part of our CSR so it’s all free of cost.
Interviewed and article by Yangzum Lama.