From Hack4Good 2013 Nepal winners to Most Innovative Startup 2017, if you start counting the list of awards and competition they have won till date; trust me it will take a long time. They found their passion in the field of virtual reality when the technology had just been introduced and have been pursuing it till today.
They started from a room around Kathmandu University and today they are one of the most innovative startups of Nepal. This week we are unleashing the journey of Semantic Creation.
Founded by Saurav Bajracharya, Bobby Basnyat, Sajesh Khadgi and Kushal Vaidya back in 2015, Semantic Creation is a startup that mainly works in the field of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Saurav, Bobby, and Sajesh knew each other from the college days and started the journey together by building simple mobile and web applications together.
The team first got popular when they won Hack4Good 2013 Nepal. They were also able to grab the third place in the worldwide hackathon for Hack4Good that year. Kushal then heard about the team and the product and offered to start a business together. And then, there were four!
Kushal today handles the business and marketing part of the company from USA and rest of them handle the technical side of things. From last year, they have been focusing on Nepal VR as their core product. They also develop other applications related to virtual reality and augmented reality to specific customers.
Journey So Far
Virtual reality is a relatively new concept in Nepal even today. They started working on VR when the technology was just introduced here. So we wanted to know when and how they started working on VR, to which Saurav replied, “Our first interaction with the concept of virtual reality was when we were studying Engineering. We had made a mock-up VR box using cardboard and mobile phone. The experience was overwhelming and we loved it. “
Sajesh further added, “Fast forward to when the 2072 earthquake hit Nepal, and the economy of the country was badly affected. We felt that we need to do something about this, and we decided to send out a message to the entire world that Nepal is still beautiful and the earthquake has not affected the beauty of our country. We visited major tourist places of Nepal and collected 360 photos. Through the pictures, we wanted to give a virtual experience to people and assure that they can still visit Nepal.”
But sustaining with that concept was pretty difficult then, thus they had to halt the project at that time and concentrate on some other projects. Finally, after about one and a half year, when they felt that they are ready to take the project further, they again worked on the project and released the first version of Nepal VR.
According to Saurav, when they started there were no materials related to VR even on the Internet. It was tough for them to even get started. But after one and a half years, when they decided to resume, a considerable amount of research materials were available on the Internet. It was comparatively easier then.
The applications (mainly Nepal VR) is targeted to three types of audience:
- The people who are planning to visit Nepal and seek for suggestions about the places to visit in Nepal.
- The people who are already in the country and seek for places they can visit nearby their location.
- The people who have already visited Nepal and returned. They are found using their application to share and revive their experience in Nepal.
Importance of Virtual Reality
We have heard so much about Virtual Reality and people saying that it is the future. Thus, we asked the co-founders about how our country can benefit from VR and AR.
Sajesh mentioned, “The scope of virtual reality is huge, in many fields like gaming, agriculture, and tourism. We are focusing on tourism in specific because we believe that Nepal and Virtual Reality seamlessly fit together. Though people are not realizing it today, virtual reality can really help us in developing the tourism sector of the country.”
Our country is really beautiful; we just need to show its beauty out to the world. In that way, we can compel the foreigners to visit our country. I too believe that through Nepal VR, they have put an effort to unleash the beauty of Nepal to the world. They have started connecting with hotels and business owners to make them understand the importance of VR. Some of them have been enthusiastic about Nepal VR and some, they are still convincing.
Difficulties Till Date
According to the team, due to the support for 360 photos and videos on social media platforms, people have come to know about 360 technology but not actually VR. And there are also people who have used VR and do not like it. That’s mainly because of the type of gadgets that they are using as some of the gadgets are so horrible that it can entirely ruin the experience.
The team says that there are many other difficulties that they have faced till date, from collecting data to convincing people about the technology, the list never ends. Nonetheless, they are positive about the scope of the Virtual reality and they are continuously working on making better products.
Creations by Semantic Creation
Besides Nepal VR and pipelined Visualize VR, they have developed plenty of other products too, the most recent one being Nepal Votes AR. Nepal Votes is an application based on augmented reality that assisted the users to understand how to cast vote in the elections.
Saurav further added, “It was more of a pet project to us. We had been working in augmented reality for about six months; so we just wanted to create an application that could work as a portfolio to us and at the same time help general public too. Since the election was the hottest topic then, we decided to build Nepal Votes AR.”
Other applications built by Semantic available in the Play Store right now are EQ Volunteers Nepal, Appkosh, and Bangkok Thailand VR. They developed EQ Volunteers Nepal to help the volunteers during earthquake who were inspecting the damage to the houses in Kathmandu. It was developed for an organization they had volunteered for during the earthquake.
Another application, Bangkok Thailand VR was developed after their visit to Bangkok after winning Seedstars. They had collected 360 photos of many tourist destinations of Thailand and have included the same in the application.
Currently, they have been generating revenue from internal funding and through some service-oriented projects.
Future Plans of the Stars
Sajesh and his team like to consider themselves as tech enthusiasts and Sajesh further adds, “We believe that we are capable of building great products. Thus, our primary goal is to be updated with the latest technology and build awesome products. Working on virtual reality and augmented reality is always going to be our main interest. Alongside that, we will also keep developing new and interesting products related to newest technologies.”
The whole team seems to be happy to have found each other and to be able to pursue their passion. Thus we asked them to describe the best thing about being involved in a startup.
Saurav explained, “The best thing about having a startup is freedom of expression. We express through our work. And having a startup gives you the freedom to work in the field that interests you.”
Sajesh added that all of us go through our share of challenges, but loving what we do is always a motivating factor. He also mentioned that all the hard work pays of when we get appreciated and rewarded for the work that we’ve put in.
Some Personal Tips
Since the team has gone through a lot of struggles, we believe that they can surely tip the upcoming entrepreneurs about starting a company. Thus we asked them to give their personal suggestion for upcoming entrepreneurs.
“Based on our personal experience, we suggest that if you are planning to commence a startup, you should participate in hackathons and the incubation programs. The primary advantage of these events is that it connects you with the right type of people.”, said Sajesh.
Saurav, likewise, mentioned, “Hackathons and incubation programs help you understand the business perspective of a product. And, if you are planning to start a company, you must know about the business perspective of the company too. And if everything goes well, you can also find like-minded people who can eventually become your partners, like in our case.”
Going Off Topic
Our final question to them was about their expectations from the newly elected representatives.
Saurav mentioned that he was really optimistic about the elections. He said what the country needed the most right now is stability and that a stable government can work to make better policies which ultimately help in the growth of a country.
Sajesh further added that they are really positive that the newly elected representative will be able to bring some great policies to promote startup and also help the overall IT sector of Nepal.
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