Sroth Code: making premium games and apps in Nepal

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Everything about the makers of ‘Haku Run’

Uday Gurung, originally a student of Uttam Adhikari, had loved the latter’s way of teaching and suggested to teach others too with the same methodology. Sroth Code started as a winter-camp programme last February and started off in an unused space of their previous job, where the workspace was vacant in the daytime.

They named the company as Sroth Code, as sroth is the Nepali version of source. And, ‘source code’ means the set of commands in computer programming.

The company began with almost zero cost.

After working for two months from that space, they were made to move out. And, they shifted the office to the apartment of Adhikari in Ratopul, and the four-team members that time utilized one of the rooms as the workspace.

After the completion of the winter camp, they were planning to develop a mobile game. But, they only had a designer and coder each that time. So, they went to IOE, Pulchowk to find those interested in coding and making computer games, and found 3 passionate programmers there. Thus, they started with 9 team-members in total, including 2 interns. And, all those 9-members in the team exist till today.

As do every other startup companies in their early stage, they too have been working on zero salary, though other team-members are paid. Other than making games, they too run ‘activity-based coding and designing programmes’ for school students.

They had recently applied for the incubation programme run by the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurial Development, King’s College, and were successful to win 1500 USD, making it even easier to run the company.

They have been maintaining a friendly work-culture at Sroth Code, and there is no hierarchy in the organization, as per Gurung. Also, there is no blame-game on any mistakes and faults that arise in the work, he adds.

Starting small

Learning the lessons from Adhikari’s previous 4 failed startups, they started the company as very small, and not taking much pressure on the infrastructure. They simply focused on creating a working environment, and accomplishing their planned tasks.

For small-scale startups, Adhikari shares that getting works and projects is not that difficult. “But, there are problems at the time of delivery. If you can’t deliver on time, you get bad reviews, and would stop getting works from the clients,” Adhikari says. “We never do that. We only take the works that we are sure to accomplish. We will start working on large-scale projects only when we feel like we have the capacity to deliver such tasks,” he adds.

The making of ‘Haku Run’

After the completion of the camp, they planned to make a game. But, as copyright issues hinder the making of games based on foreign movies, they decided to make a game from Nepali movie itself. And, that time, the teaser of Loot 2 was just announced. So, they came up with the idea of making the games based on two popular characters in the movie: Haku and Gophle.

They then approached Nischal Basnet, the director of Loot 2 for the same. While approaching Nishcal Basnet to discuss about making of Haku Run in person, he called them over to Godavari, where his film was being shot. Rain attacked them on the mid-way. While meeting Basnet, they were fully drenched in rain. Seeing their condition, and the passion and commitment to do something, Basnet okayed them to proceed in making the game. They haven’t yet forgotten that moment of meeting Basnet for the first time, in such condition.

They made Haku Run to divert Nepali users from foreign games like Temple Run and others to Nepali games itself, with features like Swoyambhu, Muktinath, Lumbini, Nepal Yatayat and Tempo among others. They had included these features to make the game more interesting to Nepalese, and feel the Nepali way.

They were successful to get 10 thousand downloads of Haku Run just within three days, which they remember as the most memorable achievement so far.

Other than the making of games, Sroth Code also works on various other sectors including providing various web-service to e-commerce sites and making of apps.

With the success of Haku Run, many people have started to know about Sroth Code, and have been approaching them for their works. And, many organizations are approaching them and showing the willingness to collaborate and work together.

Shortage of qualified human resources in IT sector

Though there are tens of thousands of students who study ICT and computer engineering every year, it’s still hard to for IT companies on making new hires.

Sroth Code is working as an academy, where they are working to make the college students job-ready. As there is a huge gap between college and job environments, we started the work to fill-up the gap,” Adhikari said. He also added that most of the team-members in the company are the students from their programmes themselves.

“Maximum of the students who come to Sroth Code to learn, are IT students, who almost have zero knowledge of working at the implementation level. Though they are already taught various programming languages, they are not taught in a way so that they can work in the industry,” Gurung shared, adding, “Sroth Code wants to contribute for the same through its courses.”

Mindset of Nepali IT students on becoming a millionaire overnight

“For most of the IT students, there is a mindset that they can be a millionaire overnight when they start a company, which is completely wrong,” shares Adhikari. “IT itself doesn’t pay you. You provide service to the society, and for that service, you are paid a certain amount, which most IT students don’t think,” he adds.

Customer feedbacks

“The feedback from our customers so far is very good. Being ethical is our motto, and we want to educate our clients about their necessities, and make them understand their exact requirements,” shared Adhikari, adding “We are getting five-star ratings for our works till now, which is quite satisfying.”

Hiring

Sroth Code hires only those who are curious, but not a Pro. “If a person is not curious about his work, he’s only for the salary. It’s of no use hiring such a person in our organization who is not curious. A curious person wants to learn, do something for himself, and gives a hundred percent of output,” says Adhikari.

Future Plans

“The ten months of Sroth Code is a roller coaster journey, and we don’t have any such long future plans,” share the team members. In 2017, they want to train 100 students and make them industry ready. They also want to create 20-25 employment opportunities in the duration of next one year.

They are planning to utilize all the revenue from their projects, to upcoming projects, which if implemented, will benefit the Nepali market.

In five years, they want to establish Sroth Code Academy as an autonomous IT College, and promote practical IT education in Nepal, and establish the company as a place to carry out research and development.

To the IT students, to make best out of their college years:

“In Nepali IT and engineering colleges, students basically are not taught anything in that four-years, as required for the industry. So, utilize Google, YouTube and other tools to develop your skills and expertise further. Do not depend only on your college. College only shows the path, it’s you who has to walk that path,” says Gurung. “Do not limit your friends’ circle as friends only. Try to build a team out of them, and start working,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Adhikari says that if one is to try anything, s/he needs to do that immediately. “Ideas get clicked only after you fail multiple times. Do not fear failure,” he suggests.

To the budding entrepreneurs:

“You always need to start small. And, do not expect to have an exponential growth. You need to be patient. But, be quick while implementing your idea. As an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to delay anything. If you don’t be quick, others might do it already, before you. So, do everything immediately. And, do not play a blame game. You need to opt for collaboration as it’s better to get the work done easily if you collaborate,” suggest the co-founders together.

Startups for a better Nepal!

Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal

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