Grepsr: Working beyond boundaries

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Grepsr: Working beyond boundaries

Technology is a steadily booming industry in Nepal. With many startups emerging in this field, there are only a few notable names that have been able to make it big. One such name that strikes the minds is Grepsr. Established by two 30-year-olds Amit Chaudhary and Subrat Basnet, Grepsr is an outcome of these two duo who left their jobs after seeing a profitable opportunity in data collection. 

Hitting things off together since school days, Amit and Subrat have gone on to set an example through Grepsr in today’s booming world of technology.

 

From schoolmates to business partners

Amit Chaudhary and Subrat Basnet knew each other since school. They went to Galaxy Public School, continued their studies at the same university in Australia and worked in the same company. The dynamic duo is the perfect mix with Amit being more realistic and Subrat more optimistic. Their business and co-working partnership dates back to 2001, a time when people used online dial up internet and chatting was huge. They had started a website called myktm.com where people could post articles, chat live, and they had also made a software called Nepal Messenger. “It was more of a hobby back then. We didn’t make money out of it. We even know people who got married because of it,” recalls Chaudhary. 

It was more of a hobby back then. We didn’t make money out of it. We even know people who got married because of it.

 

But they had to close it down.

Their partnership has become stronger since then. In 2007, Amit and Subrat started working for a US based company as software developers. Meanwhile, they were also taking freelance work on data collection. There were not many companies working in the field back then and they analysed the market feasibility with the ongoing ‘big data’ trend. Having seen a good market in data collection and realizing the cash flow positive nature of the business, they left the company to start Grepsr in 2012. 

 

Grepsr simplifying web scraping

It all began as a weekend project of the dynamic duo. They invested personal savings to build an MVP and launched the product, but didn’t receive purchasing customers until a month later in February, 2012. “Almost for a month, there was nobody purchasing. We gave a lot of data free to a few customers and then there was a big company launching in Asia who needed data. As we were one of the few working in this field as a company rather than a freelancer, they had contacted us,” recalls Subrat. With this project kick starting business, they had 15 individual clients in the first two months and were break-even within three months of operation. At present, the company is self-sustained and has not taken any kind of outside investment.

 

Grepsr is an online web scraping solution that combines expert guidance and easy-to-use platform to help business people extract value from the web without any IT (Information Technology) support. To get started, a client has to sign up and send requirements to Grepsr by filling up a simple form. Grepsr web data extraction solutions are flexible and can be used to acquire wide variety of B2B data for faster decision-making. Their starter plan starts from $129 per site. The monthly plan starts from $99 per site and enterprise plan reaches out for longer term plans with volume discount pricing options.

The unusual name ‘Grepsr’ comes from ‘grep’, a tool in Linux to find data, and ‘sr’ refers to service. People sometimes get confused with the name ‘Grespr’ and the founders have had to face problems when people send payments under the name ‘Grespr Private Limited’ instead of ‘Grepsr’.

Till date, Grepsr has served about 800-1000 unique customers including big companies like Target, GE Capital, The Boston Consulting Group, Groupon and Twitter, to name a few. Among the customers from over 40 nations, two-third of their business comes from the US. 

 

Experiences working as a Nepali company

Amit and Subrat doubted if the international market would be willing to work with a Nepali company only to realize that this worked as an advantage to them. Amit says, “Initially, we were apprehensive about telling potential customers that we are from Nepal but turns out that they’re excited when we tell them we’re from Nepal.” “Our conversation starters are about Nepal and the Himalayas and then we get to talking about the projects,” adds Subrat.

Initially, we were apprehensive about telling potential customers that we are from Nepal but turns out that they’re excited when we tell them we’re from Nepal.

Being a Nepali company, Grepsr has to compete with tech companies from Silicon Valley and other parts of the world. The company has been serving customers with the right service mix to address this issue. “For example, if we provide same quality service at a cheaper rate, then that’s a competitive advantage to us,” says Basnet. 

Working based in Nepal has its unique challenges. The duo shared their experience of work through load shedding in Nepal. “We have had instances when we had to close the office at 1 because there was no power. We even worked through the earthquake period from home. These circumstances exist but we learned to work with them rather than have them as an excuse,” says Amit.

We have had instances when we had to close the office at 1 because there was no power. We even worked through the earthquake period from home. These circumstances exist but we learned to work with them rather than have them as an excuse

 

The people behind Grepsr

It was only the duo who kept most of the things going for Grepsr. Believing in automation, they did not want to keep adding employees without need. “We did everything ourselves for the first two years. We had a designer for the website but we worked on the content and everything else ourselves,” shares Subrat.

When they thought about forming a team, they found it hard to find real problem solvers, people with a good mix of engineering and communication skills. Being a small company with a small team, they could not afford to have a separate team for communication.  “Finding right people for the kind of marketing we need is a challenge. There are people here who do Facebook marketing and SEO but that’s not the kind of people needed in our business. So we try to do it ourselves. We don’t have a choice as there isn’t a pool of people,” says Amit. “Even though we’re not from marketing background, we worked on a trial and error basis and surprisingly, most of it worked out,” adds Subrat.

Even though we’re not from marketing background, we worked on a trial and error basis and surprisingly, most of it worked out.

Grepsr initially had two employees and have added a few over the years. Now, their team comprises of the founding duo and 13 additional employees. The founders still have to deal with customers themselves but are on the lookout for someone with a good mix of engineering and communication skills. 

 

What’s next?

Grepsr plans on continuing to grow and focus on bigger enterprise level companies in the future.  It is set to release a new product soon which people can download and install to automatically extract data from web pages. Seeking leverage, they also plan to partner with big companies in the future.

 

Setting an example

Grepsr has set an example for technology startups in Nepal. Since its inception, Amit and Subrat have evolved as entrepreneurs and learned necessary skills along the way. Their journey has taught them that Nepal is a small market that can’t sustain all the players that are emerging. It is therefore required to explore work beyond boundaries to make it big. 

Amit’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “There should always be a plan on how to make money.  Without money, there is no way to sustain. You can do it as a hobby for a year or two but then what? Even if there is no positive cash flow, have a plan for it. Investors would not invest in you if you don’t plan on making money. Outside Nepal, you can get investment based on value of your user base but it is not the same here.”

Basnet expresses, “It is possible in Nepal for a small company with a small team to generate good revenue. There is no need to go abroad except to gain experience. You don’t have to be the most innovative company. You can be one of the innovative companies, but at least provide good service. Customers follow word of mouth and if it’s worth it, customers will come. That’s our whole experience summed up in a sentence.”

Customers follow word of mouth and if it’s worth it, customers will come. That’s our whole experience summed up in a sentence.

 

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Guest Tuesday, 16 January 2018