When it comes to emerging technology markets, Nepal is a country that shouldn’t be ignored. This thought was furthered when we spoke with Vincent Sanchez-Gomez, Co-CEO at Outside.tech, a digital agency, and startup studio.
In this interview, Vincent talks about how Outside is helping startups in Nepal grow, the key things to consider before attending startup events, their future plans as a startup studio, and what drove them to pick a relevant new domain extension.
What inspired you to start Outside.tech in Kathmandu? Tell us the story.
For starters, the other two Outside cofounders besides me, Atulya Pandey and Sujan Shrestha, are originally from Kathmandu.
It is their birthplace and hometown, so investing in Kathmandu is very personal to the founding team.
Atulya and I previously cofounded an automated website building software startup called Pagevamp (which is still running today) out of NYC.
A few years into that business, we transitioned our tech team to being entirely located in Kathmandu.
It was through our experience of building a tech team out of Nepal that allowed us to see the amazing potential that Kathmandu had as an emerging tech industry, as well as the many challenges and shortcomings it faced.
While there’s tremendous potential in terms of finding talented and ambitious individuals, many of the tech jobs available locally are offered by software outsourcing firms who are on a race to the bottom to charge the cheapest rates possible.
On top of this, it is common practice for these firms to hide the fact that their development is even done in Nepal.
This perpetuates a damaging stereotype associated with Nepal, and other emerging market countries, with poor quality tech work.
We saw an opportunity to build a business that leverages Kathmandu’s potential, while not only challenging some of these negative trends but also investing headfirst in improving the technology community in a way that all participants can benefit from.
This is the context that led us to building Outside, an impact-focused digital agency and startup studio.
How does Outside help startups grow from the ground up?
The reality is that most companies that approach Outside for help with their tech needs are not starting from the ground up.
They are generally at a stage of post-revenue (or have at least raised funding) because hiring us to help design or build a product does have a cost associated with it.
Similarly, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend early-stage companies to hire us (or any other digital agencies, for that matter), as they might be making a significant investment into meticulously building a product that hasn’t yet been properly assessed for product-market fit.
Building an MVP (minimum viable product) is a great way to test whether or not your business concept has potential without investing huge amounts of time and money.
What are your future plans for Outside.tech?
In addition to helping companies design and build their digital products, we also have our own in-house startup, Pagevamp. In the future, we would like to invest in building more in-house products, with a focus on products that address a pressing societal need.
Social impact is at the core of what Outside is about, so we want to continue making that a driving focus in all aspects of our business, including the types of products we build and the clients we take on.
We also actively invest in improving the local tech community in Kathmandu that we are a part of. Currently, we do this mostly by hosting free/open events that focus on skill or community building.
Moving forward, we would like to expand our efforts to have a wider impact on startups and the technology industry.
This means having a more comprehensive, diverse set of events, supporting organizations in Nepal who are already making an impact that we believe in, as well as listening to other companies (competitors, as well), and seeing what Outside can do to create a healthy technology industry that everyone can benefit from.
Should startups attend startup events and tech conferences on a global scale? What’s your take?
I definitely don’t think it is a rule that startups and creators should attend startup events and conferences.
In fact, I think startups should approach events with some skepticism and analyze the value of an event to them, specifically, before attending (particularly for events/conferences that have a high cost associated with them).
In the marketing information provided by conferences, they often claim a lifetime worth of value that can’t be missed, but for any time spent at an event or conference, there is an opportunity cost, which is the time that you could be spending executing on your business (or just taking a break) in a different way.
So instead of saying that startups should definitely attend events and conferences, I’d rather suggest a few questions I personally think about when assessing whether or not to attend an event/conference:
- Will I be learning a specific skill or process that is very important to me by attending the event? Can I achieve this skill in a cheaper or more efficient fashion outside of this event?
- What is the likely attendee breakdown of the event? Will I be meeting people who I think can be valuable to me as customers, business contacts, or friends? Is the event structured such that forging those connections is actually likely or possible?
- Who do I know who has attended this event before? Let me speak to them and get an unbiased opinion on whether or not this event is in alignment with my goals.
- Once I have decided I want to attend an event, what prep work can I do and what mindset should I put myself in to ensure I take most advantage of the event and get a good return on my time/investment?
Overall, I definitely think there is value to be extracted from events, but that value is more a matter of fit between an event and the specific attendee in question, rather than an inherent quality of the event itself.
Why did you choose a .TECH domain name? How is it helping you develop a unique online brand?
When deciding which domain name to purchase, there were a few considerations we were making:
- Is the domain name easy to remember?
- Is the domain name in alignment with our business and the services we offer?
- Is the domain name visually clean and professional, so it can act as a positive reflection of our brand?
- Can we purchase the domain at a reasonable cost?
We didn’t look specifically for a .TECH domain, but when we were exploring our options, it ended up being the best choice for us. The business name is “Outside”, and we like how that word looks on its own.
If we were to use a more popular TLD, such as .COM, we would have to add other characters or words and attach them to “outside” (things like hireoutside.com or outsidektm.com) to be able to find an available domain at a reasonable cost.
With .TECH, we were happy to find a very clean and succinct domain, outside.tech, available for purchase. And given that building tech is core to our business, it made a lot of sense for us.