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This squad of young engineers is striving towards commercial future of robotics in Nepal: Story of Paaila Technology

Paaila Technology Team
At a time when most of the engineering graduates fly to abroad for greener pastures, or apply for ‘Lok Sewa Aayog’ (Public Service Commission) exam to get placed in a permanent government job, this group of youths started a robotics company in Nepal. This article tries to cover everything about the makers of ‘Pari’ robot, a buzzword in the town lately.

It was towards the end of 2014 when Binay Raut returned to Nepal completing his MSc. studies in Marketing and Management from Lancaster University and started a realty business. But, a person with a passion and dream to do something in the field of innovation and technology, he planned something new that he thought has a possibility in Nepal. He approached a group of young and like-minded people to start a robotics and automation company. Some seven months back, he teamed up with 5 engineering graduates of IOE Pulchowk to start a commercial robotics company, with a sole mission: ‘Make in Nepal’. With a thought that they can certainly deliver with the passion, vision and commitment, the group took a big risk to walk on the trail they dreamed of.

They formally started the company on December 12, 2016, naming it ‘Paaila Technology’, envisioning to produce world class robotics and industrial automation products that are suited for Nepali industries. The company was named ‘Paaila’ to give Nepaliness, that also means to stride for something. The company was started with 7 core-team members.

Nobody could have imagined that an engineering company can reach at such position in a very short duration of time.

Paaila Technology is in the news, and the ‘Pari’ robot they made and has been installed at the In-Touch outlet of Nepal SBI Bank at Durbarmarg, and has almost become a buzzword in the social media.

“But, this robot is just a tip of the iceberg. We have so many works besides this robot,” shares Wasim Akram Khan of Paaila Technology. Earlier, they had made Automatic Dhara under smart home concept.

Starting a robotics company in Nepal, they wanted to show to the developed countries that Nepal is also capable.

Now, they are really showing new hope that it’s possible to do some amazing works and innovate in Nepal itself, though the present robot is not that advanced compared to those in abroad.

The robot greets the customers once they enter the bank. It guides them about the services in the bank. And, bids adieu.

“This is a very simple robot, with limited capabilities. But, we can make much-advanced robots as seen in international markets. If we can raise a bigger amount of fund, we can make an amazing robot that can be used in real industry. The main message from making of this robot is that it’s possible to make commercial humanoid robots in Nepal, make the investors excited, and cash them,” shared Khan.

“We have many talents in Nepal, but we are not doing anything to innovate and build something new,” making ‘Pari’, we proved that it’s possible to do something in Nepal itself.

Making of ‘Pari’

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The bank was willing to give a surprise to people at its new branch, and approached the Robotics Club of Pulchowk Campus, which then referred to Paaila for the work.

The bank had just asked for a robot that would welcome the clients. But, Paaila went on to build a robot with numerous other interactive services.

At the same time, Paaila was really waiting for such a platform, thus the necessity to accomplish the first big project anyhow. The robot was completed in a very short duration of 45 days. They worked day and night on the robot, with just 2-3-4 hours of sleeps per day. Seeing the reactions and feedbacks from people, they feel their hard work has finally paid them off.

(Video about Making of Pari)

Marketing a totally new and unknown product in the market

“The products of Paaila Technology are of totally new concept, unknown to most of the people. So, we not only have to sell products, but market and sell the concept itself,” shares Trishik Shrestha, marketing executive of the company. He shared the challenge of marketing it among the public, and the probable clients.

Walking a different trail to leave a footprint

They didn’t walk in the conventionally set path of the engineers, didn’t leave for western countries, or apply for a permanent government job, or sought for employment in an INGO. “Working at other companies means that almost sacrificing your creativity and interests, and working for others’ goal. We are restricted inside the boundary, and there is a certain bar on our authority and opportunity in a project. When you are working on your own company, you can give your best,” says Niraj Basnet, another founding member. “If you are joining a big/corporate company, you surely have to do a certain task repeatedly, that would be obviously boring. Startup gives you the freedom, and opportunity to innovate,” he adds.

Memorable incidences so far

Making of the robot was interesting for the team. But, it was also equally challenging. The robot was made from fiberglass. The body had to be grated to give a smooth outside. They had to take bath almost thrice a day. They caught allergy of fiberglass dust.

But, they are getting amazing feedbacks from clients, and it’s really overwhelming, as per Wasim Akram Khan, one of the co-founders of Paaila. He feels, all their hard works has finally paid-off.

The achievements

Making a commercial humanoid robot is their achievement at their first place. “We have shown that it is possible to do such innovative works in Nepal itself. There is an endless possibility in robotics field, and we are sure to deliver world-class robots in the future,” says Raut, CEO of the company.

The young team of Paaila Technology has shown that we don’t need to be dependent on foreign countries for technological products.

Their next robot will be a much-advanced robot with even more functionalities. It would be a movable robot, with autonomous navigation.

Five years down the line, they want to give an identity of Nepal in the field of robotics. They want to make the outside world feel that Nepal is not lacking in terms of technology industry.

Status of technology and innovation in Nepal

They feel that there is very less media coverage for science and technology works in Nepal. They are also of thought that government should also make an environment for the innovative youths to grow. “Even those who achieve international-level science competitions are not recognized or cared at all. They should be encouraged for further works,” shares Khan, pointing towards the tradition of brain-drain from Nepal.

To the engineering students:

“Have a passion. Build up the confidence to execute whatever you have thought. Don’t only hurry while a project comes at the end of the semester, but hone your skills throughout your college life. And, never lose hope. Don’t lose hope seeing the unstable political situation of the country. Be optimistic about your work,” say the passionate team of engineers at Paaila.

To the aspiring entrepreneurs:

The Paaila team suggests budding entrepreneurs to have a streamlined vision. “There are ups and downs in the journey, but you need to believe in your vision, proceed ahead. If you want to create a company and if you want that to be successful, think about what it does and how it helps to the customers, and impact the market. You will obviously be successful if you have the same level of dedication. You need to build products and services as per the necessity of the market,” shares the young team of Paaila.

“Do the proper feasibility study and research on whatever you are going to create. Have a good team. Think if it’s just your hobby, or you are looking for a long term,” they further share, adding, “Starting up is not that easy. You also need to be able to sacrifice and leave your luxury in the initial phase. If you are confident to face all these things, you will surely have a bright future.”

Startups for a better Nepal!

Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal