Govinda Giri, the founder of Sagoon.com, worked as a system engineer in the Pentagon for 11 years before he founded the social networking site. Giri said he opened Sagoon.com to help his wife who was suffering from social isolation and depression due to her over exposure to social networking site. He claims Sagoon transforms negative social behavior into positive experience.
Sagoon is growing with every passing day. It currently employs 35 people. Kriti Bhuju of Republica talked to Giri and Kabindra Sitoula, co-founder of Sagoon, to learn more about Sagoon and what it has to offer to public. Excerpts:
Giri: I was influenced by search engines like Google and Yahoo which are failing to give correct results. Even the search engine that I made in 2009 could not succeed. Then I realized social media can be successful. In 2013, we launched the trial version of Sagoon. I launched Sagoon to solve the problem of digging others information in social media which often leads to depression like my wife faced. I started Sagoon with an investment of US$ 40,000. We have invested $540,000 in it so far.
Connect, share and earn is the main objective of Sagoon. Through Sagoon, one can earn as well through social smart card feature. We want to share our earning with our users.
Sitoula: I joined Sagoon after I heard that Giri left his well-paid job to open this site. When I asked him what encouraged him to open this site, he would me videos and animation which made me emotional. Giri has shared with me that he came to the United States to give something to Nepal and Nepalis before he dies. I also have this feeling in inner mind. This is why I supported him to take Sagoon to the next level.
What is Sagoon's plan for Nepal? What is your expectation from the Nepali market?
Giri: Initially, Nepal was not our target market. But wherever I took Sagoon with me, I was known as the Nepali immigrant who made this social network. Then I realized that I should make Nepal the starting point for Sagoon. That is why we came here to get help and support from Nepalis, not financially but emotionally.
We have two titans of Internet business as our neighbors. China has 700 million Internet users and India is home to 300 million Internet users. By selling ideas and knowledge to these two countries, we can bring changes in Nepal's economic development. We have tested our hypothesis by launching seven applications in the first version. After fixing flaws of the first version, we are launching the second version on November 8. We are launching three user-friendly applications in version two -- they are personal activities, secret messaging system, and mood-based conversation.
Sitoula: The three apps, which we are launching on November 8, are user-friendly. We are hopeful that these applications will do very well not only in Nepali market but in South Asia as a whole. We will be releasing new applications every three months.
What is the user base of Sagoon? What are your future plans?
Giri: Currently we have 178,000 users. Of these 15 percent are from Nepal Similarly, 18 percent are from India and 54 percent from United States. We also have users from Australia, UK, Vietnam, Indonesia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, among others.
We are expecting three million users over the next six months through which we can raise 10 to 15 million dollars.
Sitoula: We have received commitments from Non-Nepali Residents (NRN's) here during the recently held NRN Conference. We need couple of million users so that we can generate 1 to 5 billion dollars in the next five years. We request all Nepalis to see what a Nepali has made. Give your time, support and love so that we can take million steps ahead.
What message do you want to give to younger generations who want to enter and excel in the field of IT?
Giri: As Nepal lacks entrepreneurship culture, we want do develop and teach entrepreneurial skills to new talents in IT sector. We also want to invest in production of young talents in the field of IT and sell them big markets. In the long run, Sagoon will also buy the product developed by these young entrepreneurs.
We are a landlocked country but we are not landlocked in terms of idea. We can dream big and prove it as well. We want younger generations to give birth to thousands of products like Sagoon as well as other new products.
Internet penetration in South Asia stands at 21 percent and it is growing rapidly. Hence, this region is the best market to bring in new consumer-based products.
Sitoula: Nepal has lot of young talents. The wave of technology is entering South Asia whereas in western countries it has almost reached to the point of saturation. We want to bring Silicon Valley's attention to Nepal and develop entrepreneurs here.
We request all Nepalis youth, who spend more time in Internet, to use Sagoon and support us. We are inspired by the young ideas and love from Nepalis and we want to provide a platform and opportunity for Nepali youths.