Every IT graduate dreams of working for a major company or starting a company of their own. Often, when the stark reality of lack of jobs in the native homeland hits them, they are compelled to move to a foreign land in search of employment or for a chance to leave their mark in the field by trying to establish their own company. When the startup eventually thrives, it employs and inspires further IT pioneers to carry the mantle forward, and this is how progress happens.
Established in 2016, Yarsa Labs is a perfect example of this phenomenon. It is a software company started by a Kathmandu University IT graduate NJ Subedi, located at Amarsingh Chowk, Pokhara. It focuses on developing and distributing quality software for mobile phones and the Internet. Subedi leads the company with a focused vision and precision of action.
Our attempt to understand what drives him, what excites him, and what he hopes for the future, led to the following document:
- What triggered you to start your own company?
After graduating from KU, I started a job at a software company in Kathmandu. Due to the massive earthquake of 2015, I came back to my hometown, Pokhara. I took on some projects, developed local apps and generated revenue. After researching for some local IT companies, I discovered that there were none. That was when I considered building my own firm and providing myself employment. I had personal savings of around Rs. 1,00,000 which helped me in the early phase. With my experience with developing apps, I was fairly confident that I could build a career with it.
- What kind of apps does your company deliver?
The patriotic feeling for the country made us create apps focusing on lifestyle, travel and utilities for Nepal. We developed apps such as Document Scanner, Recharge Card Scanner, Passport Size Photo Maker.
Driving trials has always been confusing and stressful. To overcome this, we came up with the Driving School app. When the interns showed up, it was hard to teach them complicated logic, so we drifted towards making games. We focused on games that are usually popular during festivals, trips and celebrations, such as Ludo, Rummy, Callbreak, Marriage Card Game and many more. The apps we built eventually spread from Asia to Europe and South America.
- What are some struggles that you faced during the early days of the startup? How did you overcome it?
We painfully realized that every little damage can incur a huge loss: from formatting the hard disk in a horrid rush or getting copyright infringement. Every minor act of recklessness contributes to the damage. I read many blogs and articles to help me get through all the unsaid troubles. Also, Yogendra Subedi, our operational manager, took care of all the paperwork: keeping accounts, organizing meetings and handling finances which made it easier for us to progress rapidly. Each problem that arose taught us unique lessons that cannot be found in any book.
- How did you manage to hire and bring people to your team?
Rahul Subedi, my brother and the co-founder of the company, who had achieved his degree in 2018 from Gandaki College of Engineering, joined me. We also hired interns from the same college who were yet to graduate. Making games was the best way to make them understand the fundamental properties of software development. We taught them by dividing them into teams and providing a certain framework. After a while, we became the de facto company for IT interns in the region. Through this process, almost 45 games were developed, among which some were published. Slowly as the company took its flight, we added a graphic designer and sound management professionals to our team. Having started from a single room, currently we have a workforce of around 15-20 people in a spacious workspace.
- What is the best work you have accomplished so far?
Each project we have undertaken has proven to play a vital role in our existence. However, Ludo is our most beloved app so far worldwide. At one point, peaking at 4-5 lakhs downloads per day, it currently is at around 40 million downloads. It has generated the highest revenue for the company so far. It is a project developed within 2-3 days of work. Whereas, our other app, Driving School took almost 1.5 years to complete and generated lesser revenue than the former. The 80-20 rule, where 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort, showed up here.
- How has the ongoing pandemic affected your company?
Since we are an IT company, transitioning to working from home wasn’t that difficult. With regards to our business, the pandemic has affected us in both healthy and unhealthy ways. It has lessened the usage of utility apps, whereas boosted the adoption of our gaming apps to a high degree.
- What advice would you give to many millenials who are trying to set up a startup in this economic climate?
I believe the one who can employ himself can employ others. These days, youngsters try to get involved in everything and tend to fail at everything. In this field, sheer dedication in one direction is vital. Don’t try to do everything. Deliver one thing, but try to be the best at delivering that single thing. Also, be keenly aware of the competition and make a habit of reading. Then you shall surely shine.