The story of the envisionors of citizen journalism cum a social media portal in Nepal that is aiming to make every Nepalese write their news themselves
There are lots of things that go into the portfolio of Sanat Neupane.
Having started his career from Annapurna Hotel as a trainee, Sanat joined Surya Nepal as an HR Manager. He then moved to Chaudhary Group as a Corporate HR Manager and was later promoted to DGM there, worked at Kantipur Publications as Chief Corporate Officer, moved to 3NI Publication, and later joined TBI Publications. Through all these positions, he contributed these organizations to grow, and literally change. He takes himself as a change-lover, and always believes in business beyond business. After working in these three media houses, he felt a small frustration grilled inside him. “The news in these organizations were collected by reporters. But, the news is not to be searched, news should automatically come to the newsroom. I wanted to make newsroom very interactive to the common people. So, to make newsroom interactive, and make the editor and reporters at access to all, and publish their news on their own. So, we thought of creating a social media, and encouraging and making everyone write what they feel. This is how Suvadin was born. It is a modified version of citizen journalism. You post your own news, we’ll package it,” says Sanat sharing the story behind Suvadin.
There is also another side of the story of him launching the business.
“Having worked all these years, in such topmost positions, I found that in these 13 years I just earned a nominal amount of money. I asked myself, am I worth just that much?” Feeling unhappy with the total amount of salary he earned, Sanat felt the need to start something on his own. Thus was Suvadin born, with an ambition to be the largest media (social) house of Nepal. Started on January 1, 2017 with an initial investment of 1 crore rupees, the company is seeing a rapid growth since its day one.
Having worked all these years, in such topmost positions, I found that in these 13 years I just earned a nominal amount of money. I asked myself, am I worth just that much?
Building the team that worked
While he was planning to launch the company, Sanat felt that if one is going to do something good, he’s like a magnet. “You need not to search, instead everything comes to a place,” he says, sharing how the vibrant team gathered after Suvadin happened. “The only thing that I look into a person is passion. If you have passion, I can manage the rest,” he shares about how the team members at Suvadin are brought in. KhilaNath Dhakal, whom Sanat calls NewsBhoot, is the editor of Suvadin News. Ujwol Ghimire, the glue of the whole team, is the Director of Marketing in the house. There are many other team-members whose names can’t be missed. Sanat feels that he has the best media team to accelerate the growth of the company.
The features of Suvadin.com
There are lots of features other than news at Suvadin, including Calendar, Autograph, Cause, Praise and Complain, infotice, Polls, and Club to differentiate it from other social media platforms. “We put these for the freedom of expressions, as expressions have to go in many different forms besides news. To give news angle to every other incident, including events, feelings, opinions, queries and all, we introduced such features in Suvadin,” says Sanat.
He considers Facebook to be their competitor. “But, when you’re competing with Facebook with so much of little resources, what we saw is the necessity to prioritize one thing at a time. At the beginning, we worked out on the news segment, which has now developed into a matured system. In Facebook, there is a team of thousands of people working to give the best experience to the users. We have almost completed that for news, and it’s been to a par level, from idea to experience phase. After the news, we will be focusing on Calendar for the next three months. Thirdly, we’re going to Autograph, and every other features will be brought to that level in a similar way,” shares Sanat, adding, “If you see the initial days of Facebook, you won’t believe that it was Facebook. We too are the same. In the coming three months we’ll innovate Nepal Calendar, and follow the suit.”
The challenges so far
“The biggest challenge I have realized is that we Nepalese are very lazy people. You go to anyone, and they say, oh that’s good. But, there is higher chance they have not visited that site. The biggest challenge in Nepal is making people actually go to a website, and explore. We’ve been carrying out so much of marketing activities, but it’s still tough. We Nepalese are very much inflexible to encouraging new ideas,” shares Sanat from his experience.
“Had the same product been launched in India, I can’t imagine where we could have reached already. But, I am fully optimistic. My plan is to use all of my energy to expand Suvadin in Nepal itself,” he adds.
“We are going organically as I don’t like inorganic growth. It’s difficult to make people explore the site, but we’re going to colleges, corporate houses, and other places. And, the likes and page visits of the site are increasing slowly, and smoothly,” he further shares.
How is it working like at Suvadin?
“Suvadin is an open, and bossless organization. I have put my title as the President, not Chairman, and the owner is irrelevant here. We have a friendly and cozy working environment. We’re all youths. We do have morning, afternoon, and evening shifts, and rotate the shifts. In the morning shift, Suvadin breakfast news is updated, and the day planning is done. Then, we ready the news for people to browse at their office at 10. Similarly, in the evening, we ready news for people to surf after reaching their home. So, working culture at Suvadin is very wonderful,” Sanat shares.
Market and user response so far
“The response is really good till now. With whomever we share the Suvadin idea, the first thing we hear is, ‘WOW this is too innovative’. Added to this, our readers and clients are very loyal. That’s the beautiful part of Suvadin. If you see the stat chart, it’s very smooth. That’s the beauty of this business, and it makes all of us going,” he shares.
Necessity of collaboration for business growth of a startup
“I do really believe in collaboration, and growing big together. We have approached a lot of organizations for collaboration. But, it has not been claimed so far. But, we’re extremely open. I request all the startups and new ventures to use and exploit Suvadin at its best,” says Sanat.
To be an entrepreneur
“I am very addicted to work. No matter what, my phone is always on, and anybody can call me 24 hours,” he shares. “To add more, I am used to working on GMT. In my previous jobs, I too had to look after the team in Belgium, Japan, and Nepal. And, when people in Belgium got into a problem (at daytime office there), it would have been 2 am here. I take it very normally because this is the fun of work,” he adds. “When it’s about work, I’m always waived from family functions. And, my family is extremely supportive, and all my family members encourage me. But sometimes, I bunk office, even Suvadin. One fine day, you come to the office, and say hi-hello, and run out with your friends. That’s how I balance my life. It’s like bringing a lot of colors to life. It’s very important that you are cheerful and have the same level of energy every day,” he shares his traits as an entrepreneur.
Suvadin has a dream to expand to 60 countries, and have representatives there. As of now, they do have representatives in India, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia, Belgium, and the UK, apart from the Headquarter in Kathmandu. “There are a lot of people who are interested to work with us. In the duration of next 3-5 months, we would be launching an international edition of Suvadin. Similarly, after some time, we will be expanding in a big way, and reach all these countries,” shares Sanat.
“We want to make Suvadin a Global Company. Within three years itself, it’ll be the number one social media of Nepal. You should not get surprised to see a mass of people using Suvadin at a number near to Facebook, if not exceeding. In the duration of 5 years, Suvadin will be at its local versions in so many countries,” he shares his dream.
He has a vision to make Suvadin a public limited company, and hand it over to the community after developing it to a level. “It will be a Sahujiless organization,” he shares.
The most memorable day into the venture so far
“We believe in setting and breaking our own records. I’m a very demanding person when it comes to work. After consulting with the team, I wanted Suvadin to set a new record. With the effort and hard work of all the team members, we were able to post 100 news in a single day. It’s a very small thing, but that was our first big record-break. I was very happy that time,” shares Sanat with excitement.
To the emerging entrepreneurs:
“I give only one suggestion to the budding entrepreneurs: Learn to handle both success and failure,” he says in the context that lots of people are capable of handling failure but many can’t handle success.
“I think most of the startup founders fail because they fail to handle success. So, don’t come only with the mindset to handle failure. Come with an energy to handle success. While starting a company, the chance of success is very slim. Failing in the first company you start is not a failure. The real failure happens when your idea takes a shape and you’re starting to maximize your wealth, but can’t handle it. I have seen a lot of companies that did good but couldn’t maintain that pace,” he shares, adding, “Entrepreneurs come up with a mindset to handle failure, but you also need to think that you’ll be successful and need to have the courage to handle success.”
We all have authors inside us. Our brain is very active, and we think all the time. We are just too lazy to write our thoughts and feelings. Let’s transcribe our thoughts, views, and ideas into words. In the past, we used to write in a diary, and made the words bring magic. It is so interesting when we see the diaries of the earlier generations of people. There are so good quotations, narrations, and many good stuffs. Let’s not be lazy. Let’s be the news. Let’s be the author of our own news.
Startups for a better Nepal!
Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal