Nechno technology– an automated zero energy cold chamber system comes from the perfect blend of management and engineering. Mr. Rajan Bhandari, a student of electronic engineering and communication, Mr. Ravi, an engineering drop out and management practitioner, and Nirdesh Dhami, also an engineer came together to form this company which plans to automate a widely used cooling storage system.
Discover more about their breakthrough in IOT in this interview with the team:
How did you come up with the idea for this company?
We started out as a software development company with clients in the USA. We came across a journal by the global press which talked about lack of proper storage facility and its impact on farmers which intrigued us. So, we started our research to come up with some alternatives and found out about “Zero cooling technology”. Zero energy cool storage is basically using locally available resources like bamboos, bricks,
and water to create a chamber where the temperature is lower than the room temperature which is to be maintained manually. So, we thought maybe we could incorporate some automation in an effort to decrease human labor because as humans, we can’t always predict the room temperature accurately. However, a machine can do that easily. So, we came up with a technology that would detect the humidity, moisture and all the other factors that are needed to have the constant temperature for proper storage of fruit and vegetable. We are almost done with our testing and prototype and all that’s left is market research regarding its benefits to local farmers and modification needed for it.
What social problem are you trying to solve with your venture?
We are trying to solve the gap in agriculture and are trying to get local level farmers engaged. Farmers in rural areas do not have access to proper electricity and financial leverage to set up cold storage. The automation aspect we are trying to incorporate is new. However, the concept of cooling chambers is not; it has been in existence in India, Bangladesh, and some part of Nepal with pretty good efficiency. So, our guess is, maybe the people in villages are not using it because they don’t know about it. That’s why, we are trying to roll out an awareness campaign on cold storage, its benefit and how it can help sell produces at the right price, right time.
What is the legal status of your company?
We’ve been working for the past two years and registered in August 2018 legally as a profit-based venture. Since our major source of income is software development, we’ve been allocating some part of the revenue to IOT research and development. In the future, we plan to expand different wings like IOT in agriculture, IOT in health care, under the same company.
What stage is your company right now?
I would say we’re still growing. We started out with clients in the USA and have been working on our first project which is a tourism-based web application and have more work in the pipeline. Even as a team, we started out as 4 members who have now grown to 7 and even in terms of revenue, we have seen growth. We never planned to work on IOT. It just started out as a hobby and we knew we wouldn’t be able to generate revenue immediately. We looked at the bigger picture and wanted to take up a project that can solve a crucial problem and create value. So, that is how we grew from just software to hardware.
How did you raise fund for your company?
It was mostly bootstrapping. I had some personal fund and we got the company registered with that money. In one month, we got the first installment of our project which helped to sustain the company.
What kind of challenges did you face with your startup?
In a country like Nepal, where people are talking about entrepreneurship and the dire need for it, the legal aspect is still not strong enough. We were told we needed a working space (which, thankfully, King’s college provided for free), it took 3 working days just to convince the tax office about the office space and that we wouldn’t be paying tax for that. So, we need better-defined laws for startups. Then of course, there were financial challenges. People in Nepal are concerned about short term gain so, we had to fund ourselves. Lack of ethics and professionalism was another problem we faced. One of our developers left mid-project and we had to start from square one again. It was a huge setback for our company. But the silver lining is, we have learned a great deal and it has left us with a very trustful team.
Are you operating in profit?
It is not substantial but we have been able to manage daily expenses and operational cost. We are putting our investment in many sectors and we are seeing which one works better. So, we are using resources in exploring other opportunities so that we can earn substantial profit and ensure the stability of employees.
Who is your target customer?
Right now, we are focusing on farmers local level community of rural areas because they need awareness and access to the storage facility and also the cost would be shared. We have plans to take this chamber to retailers, wholesalers, and dairy shops in the near future. Geographically, we are more focused on the outskirt of Kathmandu Valley so that we don’t have to bear much cost of transportation but
we are already in talks with Microfinance for expansion.
How many farmers are you associated with right now?
Right now, we have only spoken to people from Microfinance and agriculture background and the response seems to be positive. Once we are done with testing and efficiency analysis, we will be going to farmers in Lalitpur, BKT, and Kavre. Once the system is set, we will expand through MFs, NGOs, and INGOs.
What are the key needs of your company?
We are involved in various projects so, we want more agriculture-related students to work with us. We are working with hardware which is very difficult in Nepal as you have to actually buy the equipment and funds become a huge problem. Resources are the most important need for our company because of the lack of availability of resources hinders our standardization and we end up looking for “alternatives” which is a short-term solution.
What is the future plan for the company?
We plan to diversify into two fields i.e., software and hardware and we have a dedicated team for both. Our goals are to establish ourselves as leaders in IOT based technology in Nepal within 5 years and as for software, we want to have a global presence.
Do you identify yourself as a social entrepreneur?
We are trying to help society with our business as we make a profit and plan to do so in the future as well. So, yeah maybe we are somewhere along that line.
By : blincventures.com