The habit forming app: Hamro Patro

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The habit forming app: Hamro Patro


Would you install an app on your phone for any of these purposes: access Nepali calendar or daily exchange rates or listen to Nepali radio or check the weather forecast or the horoscope or Nepali news? Most of these information might be available with a simple Google search. But over a million are installing the app. The reason is that people have developed a ‘habit’ of ‘easily’ finding all these information within a single app – Hamro Patro (translated in English as Our Calendar).

Hamro Patro was initially developed as a calendar app, which has now grown into a platform that unites Nepali Community. In 2010, Shankar Uprety, software engineer by profession, created the app to help Nepali people living abroad stay updated with festivals and important dates of Bikram Sambat (B.S.) calendar. Over the time, this app has incorporated many other features relevant and sought by the Nepali community such as FOREX, Nepali radio, news, horoscope and many more. Today, it’s is not just creating a one-stop solution for various information but also bringing the Nepali community together by providing updates about information regarding Nepali people’s interest despite the physical distance.


A calendar for personal use to a calendar for all

While in United States, Shankar Uprety made a B.S. calendar for his personal use. When Shankar went to pursue his Master’s degree at Boston University in 2008, he didn’t have any Nepali calendar with him. He started missing out on important Nepali dates and occasions like Mother’s day, Father’s day and other festivals. Having referred to Stanford University’s video to learn the process of app development, he made a calendar app for himself to stay updated with the important dates of Nepal but hadn’t released it in the App store. 

Shankar shared about his calendar app to his friends and their responses motivated him to release it. “One of my friends immediately asked where he could get one for himself,” says Shankar. He discussed with more people about the app, and he noticed that they wanted the calendar. Eventually, he released it on iOS platform. It was mainly targeted to Nepalese living abroad.

Having referred to Stanford University’s video to learn the process of app development, he made a calendar app for himself to stay updated with the important dates of Nepal.

It cost him $99 to release the app back then. As he had a job at Verisk, it wasn’t difficult for him to manage the account. Today the app’s revenue source is Google ads.

He introduced Android version in 2012. He had to do it because mobile and smartphone penetration was increasing on one side, and people were demanding the app on Android platform too on the other side. “I got really good feedbacks within few days of the app release. People didn’t have to miss any dates because of the app. Then I realized this was important and started growing,” says Shankar.


Customer-centred growth

Hamro Patro has expanded its features based on the customers’ needs and feedbacks. Having been motivated by users of the app to make the app better, he always keeps listening to and believing them to understand where the app should head next. He extensively reads the emails he gets from users, app reviews, concerns shown in Facebook and Twitter, and when possible, talks to people whenever he can to know how the app can get better. FOREX, news and radio like features were introduced as a response to user feedback.

It’s not only limited to majority’s feedback however. Hamro Patro’s team of six freelancers also conduct surveys and rigorous studies before introducing a new feature. “We think about what people really want and what we can easily do – low hanging fruits as they say,” says Shankar. It isn’t that they don’t consider options that cater to small group of people or is difficult to integrate. “The power users of this app, which is only 10% of all users, wanted a reminder option in the app. Though it’s only 10%, we are trying to incorporate that into the app because those are the people others are going to follow. We are trying to go more into personalization now, and reminder is a part of the new version that’s expected to be released within next two months.”

We think about what people really want and what we can easily do – low hanging fruits as they say,” says Shankar.

Not all the features were applauded and appreciated. “I was very confident about the weather forecast feature. I thought people would use it,” Shankar mentions.

Hamro Patro isn’t just fulfilling the needs of its customers, but forming people’s habits as well. For instance, few days prior to Janai Purnima, they sent a notification to the users reminding them to soak Kwati (Nepali Beans). And soon after, they received emails and messages from people who thanked them for reminding. “I felt like I was doing something good. After that incident, I started giving more time to Hamro Patro. It’s uniting people.” This also shows that people depend on Hamro Patro to stay updated about their festivals and important dates.


Minimal expenditure in marketing = Over a million user base

There hasn’t been much expenditure to market Hamro Patro and there are reasons why it still could achieve over a million users. First, Shankar shared about a book he has been inspired greatly – ‘How to make a habit forming product’. According to what he learnt from this book, every successful app has ways it can create people’s habit. Just as how people check Facebook to know what their friends are doing, people check Hamro Patro to know about upcoming events in the calendar. 

Secondly, Hamro Patro had an advantage of starting early. When the app was launched, the app wasn’t trending as it is doing today. They had the time to build the brand

Thirdly, word-of-mouth has greatly influenced the number of users of Hamro Patro. People appreciate the quality, convenience of getting all kinds of information at one place instead of downloading different apps for different purpose. Moreover, since they always strive to integrate customer needs into the app, the users can depend on them for fulfilment of their needs.

A habit forming app, Hamro Patro is a story that explains how a simple solution to a simple problem can create a huge impact when delivered to meet optimum quality that fulfils needs of people in the best way possible.


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Guest Saturday, 01 October 2022