Aiming to be an online hub for students and educational establishments in Nepal, MeroCampus can connect learners to schools based on the kinds of courses that interest them, and the site can even have relevant news pushed to students via Facebook or Twitter.
That’s the initial stage that the Nepali startup is at right now. MeroCampus co-founder Prabin Paudel tells us that the site has just left beta, with a focus on courses, colleges, and educational internships in the country. It works with schools to list all the details and resources that students could need, such as the courses, fees, and admission deadlines. Prabin explains that this will soon expand into a broader marketplace that “includes online applications and a payment system so that students can apply to multiple colleges through this platform.” He adds:
There is also a huge number of [Nepalese] students who go abroad for further studies so we are also eyeing that market but only after we do it locally. Other than Nepal we are also planning to expand to other Asian and developing countries.
So, ultimately, MeroCampus wants to disrupt the traditional way that students sign up for colleges – as well as bringing brick-and-mortar educational establishments onto its marketplace. Before that e-commerce aspect kicks in, Prabin says that the startup is monetizing with a mix of ads for featured colleges and courses plus its online service that puts the colleges on its site – and thereby giving MeroCampus a monthly fee or commission for each applicant who enters a college via the platform.
Another thing being planned is something to make the site even more socially connected – “a comprehensive forum like Quora with some gamification where students can discuss among themselves.”
MeroCampus is being bootstrapped in Kathmandu with a team of four full-time plus a part-timer. Both Prabin and his co-founder, Binju, have studied overseas and this has partly informed the direction of their business. Prabin explains:
I decided to come back to Nepal after working about a year in Singapore for Bubble Motion as a senior engineer as I see a lot of young people in Nepal who are craving for further studies but there is not one place where they can get all information about colleges, courses, scholarships, and internships in Nepal and abroad. Therefore, I see this as a huge opportunity to create an ecosystem where students can come together and discuss about their further studies and career options.
Prabin says that there are no venture capital firms in Nepal, so it can be tough to grow and scale the startup. Inevitably, it seems that MeroCampus will have to impress some outside investors and possibly venture outside of the Himalayan nation’s borders before even finding some funding. But there’s a good precedent for this with the Kathmandu-based CloudFactory, which we looked at in early 2012, attracting $700,000 in funding a few months ago.
Plus, says Prabin, the Nepali entrepreneurial scene is growing well, with a Startup Weekend held in the capital earlier this month.