Home Startup Stories HoneyGuide Apps: Transforming the trekking information industry

HoneyGuide Apps: Transforming the trekking information industry

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Realising the scarcity of updated guidebooks and information about trekking, Ashish Shrestha together with his friend Abhishek Pande thought that they could do better in providing information and started to work on a trekking app since early 2014 under Honey Guide Apps. They themselves went for data collection in spring that year.

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On October of 2015, they launched beta version of the app packaging the information in an amazing way, with 3 separate apps for the three different trekking routes. But, after user feedbacks to include all the packages within a single app, they worked on to include everything on a single app, and formally launched the app on July 17, 2016. Before the formal launch of the app with various price ranges, they had provided enough sampling time to the people, for 1.5 years.

The app provides specific and in-depth information with various unique features including map function, GPS tracking, mountain finder, equipment checklist, medical checklist and others. It is used while on trekking, locate oneself and know about various places on the trekking routes.

Nepal is not only Mountains, but also cultures, lifestyles, people’s beliefs, lives, birds, herbs, and many other things that travelers can see on their way. If they find some amazing thing on the way of travelling, it will make their trekking more interesting and they are likely to share it with their friends and family.

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Abhishek says, “Nepal is not only Mountains, but also cultures, lifestyles, people’s beliefs, lives, birds, herbs, and many other things that travelers can see on their way. If they find some amazing thing on the way of travelling, it will make their trekking more interesting and they are likely to share it with their friends and family.”

For Ashish, an avid trekker, the app is the solution to get information when he encountered on trekking. He says that guidebooks are already on their way out, more like natural transformation, and ‘Trekking in Nepal’ is a new kind of information portal for the same.

Abhishek’s father has been running trekking and tourism industry since long. As per him, internet has brought drastic change in availing service in the industry yet the information about trekking is not available as guide books are not updated. So, launching of the trekking app is preparing the Nepalese tourism industry for internet age,” he shares.

For Travelers. Tourists can stick to guidebooks.

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They have put “For Travelers. Tourists can stick to guidebooks.” as their official slogan. Through the app, they want to cater to the real travelers, not tourists. “Tourist only need some general information like logistics, hotels and distance. Trekking in Nepal is for those who want to go in-depth about the places, and make their trekking experience lively,” explains Ashish.

As it’s really a labour-intensive work to generate contents, they had to carry out extensive study about the various trekking routes.

They are soon bringing Mardi Himal Trekking information package on the app. “It will be readied within 3 months. After Mardi, we will feature other up and coming trekking sites including Kalinchowk and many others,” Ashish adds.

After making their ground strong, they plan to enter slowly into other trekking routes.

Currently, out of the four trekking routes, users are charged only for three packages viz. Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Base Camp trek and Annapurna Circuit trek while the Ghorepani Poonhill one is provided for free along with other packages.

Till now, the app has been downloaded 2200 times in Google Play and 1600 times in iOS.

With very small marketing effort, they are successful to reach this stage, probably because they are the only app provider on trekking as there are no exact comparable products yet in app stores.

With very small marketing effort, they are successful to reach this stage, probably because they are the only app provider on trekking as there are no exact comparable products yet in app stores.

To carry out marketing to the target customers for their niche product, trekking checklists are placed in the shop of Sherpa Adventure Gears, along with free distribution of bookmarks in Pilgrims Books House. Goma Air has recently started printing about HoneyGuide Apps on the back of every boarding pass of the airline.

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They have maintained a blog in their website that is frequently-updated with some great in-depth informative articles that is not available elsewhere, making an influential web-marketing.

As majority of the trekking clients in Nepal are from abroad, and Nepalese don’t get the facility of purchasing apps, all of their clients are foreigners only.

“In the app, we have included which animals, birds and plants are found in which places, along with all other detailed information on the route. If GPS is on, and if you go 200 m out from the main trail, you will be notified with deviation alert saying you’re going off-trail. The app is very engaging, and gives life to your trekking making it an amazing experience,” they share. Amazed with information about everything in the trekking routes, users of the app have also been giving amazing feedbacks.

One of the major challenge they had to face was to find investors and clients to their innovative product.

We still don’t have technically good Human Resources to make products that can compete globally and it’s really challenging to find investors in Nepal.

“We still don’t have technically good Human Resources to make products that can compete globally and it’s really challenging to find investors,” they share about the challenges any startup needs to face in Nepal.

Remembering the happiest moment into the journey of Trekking in Nepal, Ashish says “It surely was that day when lonely plant featured our app in their website,” adding “International publications like Lonely Planet covering such an app from Nepal was really worth to cherish for us.”

They are planning to go outside Nepal and globally very soon. They have planned to finish all major trekking routes in Nepal including, upper Mustang, Kalinchowk and others within the first quarter of 2017. After completing that, they’re thinking about making trekking information packages about the trekking routes abroad to Asia, Africa and Europe. In a nutshell, they are striving to make Honey Guide such a trekking information availing product that people would search for if they have to go for trekking, making Honey Guide synonymous to trekking.

They have recently got an opportunity to go to SLUSH Global Accelerator Programme that is slated to happen in Helsinki, Finland this November 22-December 2. “Having won a chance to go there as one of the most impactful entrepreneurs in the emerging market is too amazing,” Ashish further shares.

Instead of being sales-oriented, you need to set-up learning oriented culture in the beginning. You will win only if you learn faster than your competitor.

Giving a message to the aspiring entrepreneurs, Ashish says, one needs to be very hard on themselves, not only in terms of the amount of time they put in, but in terms of everything, including their idea in which they fell in love with. “Startup founders need to ask themselves if there is need for the product, and answer it objectively. Just because it is your idea does not make it an amazing product. A business model needs to validate your product,” he adds. Ashish further says that one needs to focus on the right process from the very beginning. “Instead of being sales-oriented, you need to set-up learning oriented culture in the beginning. You will win only if you learn faster than your competitor,” he further adds.

Adding to Ashish’s points, Abhishek mentions that one needs to prepare to have all of their assumptions challenged. “There are lots of things that needs to be updated in what we study. So, we need to read new books. Now, there are many ways of managing business. There are many different kind of products with many different kinds of markets, users and customers. On the same proportions, business models and practices have been changed drastically, thus needing one to prepare to see their assumptions challenged,” he shares.

Starups for a better Nepal!

Presented By: Basanta Kumar Dhakal