In this round of #TenQuestions, we move from Fintech to TravelTech. Ashish Shrestha answers some questions on his product HoneyGuide Apps, his personal story and his love for the mountains and birds of nepal.
Ashish Shrestha is an avid traveler, reader, photographer and one of the Co-Founders of HoneyGuide Apps – an informative mobile app on Nepali trek destinations, landscapes, cultures, flora and fauna, and biodiversity. While the rest of us want to become successful managers, engineers, doctors or businessmen, he has a more eccentric dream – to photograph each species of birds found in Nepal.
1. What is your team’s vision for HoneyGuide?
Mountains = HoneyGuide.
It is simple as that. Whenever someone wants to plan a trek to the mountains anywhere in the world, s/he should think HoneyGuide.
HoneyGuide “To the Mountains”.
2. As someone with Ivy League education at UPenn, you must have had plenty of opportunities to live and work in the US? Why did you decide to come back to Nepal?
Come to think of it, I guess my passion of mountains was more than my passion for Neuroscience. I graduated with a degree in Neuroscience and was applying for a Ph.D. program when I had to come back to Nepal due to family reasons. One thing led to another and here I am.
3. Is there any story behind the name HoneyGuide?
HoneyGuide is a bird that guides badgers and bears to honeycombs. Once the animals are done savoring the honey, the HoneyGuide bird feeds on the beeswax.
This symbiotic relationship is not only cool but also represents what we do at HoneyGuide. We show trekkers stuffs that they wouldn’t have known, but they have to toil up the mountains to get the ‘honey’. And in return, we get some of the beeswax!! 🙂
4. Does HoneyGuide take all of your time? Do you do anything professionally other than running the company?
Yes and Yes. It does take all of the time. However, I do work a few hours in the morning as an SAT instructor.
5. Which one is your favorite trek route in Nepal and why?
Despite the road, Annapurna Circuit is still my favorite because the variety in culture, birds, architecture, landscape is simply amazing. There is still a bit of the old world hospitality and charm left at the smaller stops along this route.
6. Do you trek much often?
I don’t. Not after I started HoneyGuide. Before HoneyGuide, three treks a year would be kind of normal. Right now I haven’t been on a trek since October 2016. And that too was a short 5 days trek to Mardi Himal that my wife and I managed to squeeze out during Dashain.
But I sure as hell I wish I got to trek more.
It is really difficult to explain why I am so fascinated with mountains, and I personally have no answer. I just love them.
Actually, we did a video in which we asked a whole bunch of people just this question.
7. As a startup, you must have had to pivot your product. What was the most significant pivot you made with HoneyGuide Apps?
Yes. Two major ones in the past three years. The most significant pivot is undergoing right now, as we pivot from a company that is known for great content to a community for trekkers to plan their personalized trek with the help of other mountainheads. Details coming soon.
8. I love the content on HoneyGuide. It is so refreshing! How do you get people to write for you?
I am glad you noticed. For sometimes I fear nobody reads anymore. 🙂
Well the way we do it is pretty simple. We make sure we only work with people who are gaga over mountains. But we don’t stop there.
We aren’t just looking for travelers, we are looking for explorers who are passionate about actually experiencing and understanding the various threads that run through the mountains.
I guess it is the hunger to touch the soul of the mountains and then communicate that story; that is what shows in what we write.
9. Do you still pay people to go on treks if they can come back with stories for the HoneyGuide Blog? If yes, how can someone apply?
If someone is passionate not just about traveling but exploring, questioning and communicating, we are always on a lookout for such amazing people. Simply shoot an email at [email protected] and we will take it from there. Just make sure that you have more than just a traveler in you.
10. Finally, what do you suggest to students who are doing their BBA and MBA in Nepal and who want to build a career in tourism?
Move up the value chain. The biggest problem in Nepal in just about every industry is that we are at the lowest ladders of the value chain. We have our biggest business houses making their fortune importing stuff, we have big IT companies that don’t understand why they are building what they are building, and we have Trek Operators who do almost all of the work for 40% of the revenue.
The challenge in front of us is not what career we will have, but where in the value chain will we be 10 years from now. Hence, work for a company that has the potential to go up the value chain, i.e. companies that DESIGN and SELL their own products. You will learn a lot as you will be forced to actually think and ask ‘why’ a lot. You will enjoy it more as you will see the impact of the work you have done. And last but not the least, only those companies that are up in the value chain will make the effort to retain talented and motivated people in the long run.
The King’s team would like to thank Ashish for working so hard towards bringing tech to the travel industry and for sending us such inspirational answers.