By Anupam Man Chhantyal
“We did not just want to make an ordering platform but wanted to enable businesses to go online and empower them to have better management of their business and process”
It’s hard to imagine IT companies struggling with remote working as news columns are filled with Big Tech companies mobilizing their HR from home but it was an uphill task to structure work activities and team management from home recalls Serish Dhital, Co-Founder at Smart Tech Solutions, a one stop IT Solution Company.
Smart Tech Solutions is one of the company supported by the NIIC – Nepal Impact Investment Community Fund being managed by One to Watch. The firm’s primary focus has been on building computer aided design (CAD) software for civil engineering and construction industry, one of their flagship product Smart Road – a CAD software for road development is one of the most popular software amongst civil engineers in Nepal.
Coming out of the COVID induced lockdown, it was a challenging time for Smart Tech. As Nepal Government has been a key client for the company, historically the company booked most of its sales during the final few months of the fiscal year, this had a debilitating effect on the topline of the company coupled with the additional challenge of retaining a 60 employee workforce.
Determined to battle these COVID induced challenges, the team at Smart Tech took a number of decisions which demonstrate the effect of a successful pivot in any business. With a holistic view on how the pandemic was changing the landscape, one of the most crucial decisions done was to restructure the products in a way that enabled it to be sold and utilized by their customers remotely. Smart Road which was sold through a physical device (USB hard locked) that enabled the consumer to use the product only through the device, was adapted to an online authentication mechanism. This would be a transformative change in the product that would open up a vast new possibility across verticals and geographies.
“We have experienced better customer relation with the new model. Communication is frequent. They feel they have more control as they are paying and using according to their need.” Serish adds, since the shift towards this SaaS model will be gradual and it will take some time to have substantial client base to show notable effect on monthly recurring revenue (MRR). But eventually, that [a heightened customer retention with increase in the MMR] is what we are hoping to achieve.”
With a multitude of businesses going or trying to shift their businesses online given the mobility challenges and the change in customer behavior, Smart Tech – utilizing the firm’s development capabilities came up with the idea of OrderSathi- a platform similar to Shopify that enables MSMEs to take their businesses online.
OrderSathi is integrated with a plethora of premium features that is not limited to SKU picture space, online payment integrations, logistic support, QR features, bot based customer support and so forth. “We did not just want to make an ordering platform but wanted to enable businesses to go online and empower them to have better management of their business and process”, adds Serish.
Smart Tech is one of the remarkable examples in the Nepali context of how a company can pivot its business model while introducing new verticals and make head way amidst the growing technological landscape in the country. When asked what businesses should look at while considering to pivot, Mr. Dhital pointed out during the COVID-19 MSME Fund Webinar - the need for entrepreneurs and businesses to be proactive and not reactive to keep pace with the way things are moving and the changes in the technology.