Nepal Tech beyond borders

Saroj Maharjan: “I chose computer science simply because geeks rule the world”

May 30, 2016

What really impressed me when I met Saroj Maharjan was his enthusiasm when he was talking about his job and his involvement in developer communities in Nepal. I also learned from him that shaking your head means “yes” for Nepalese, which can lead to very strange and funny things if you are not aware of that.

I don’t know what Nepal makes you think of, but for me before going there it was synonyme of trekking, mountains, and a rather poor country. When I was talking about my project to meet tech communities in Asia, and in Nepal especially, almost everybody asked me: “really? But, are there developers there????”.

Indeed there are! And today I want you to meet Saroj, the first contact I had before heading to Kathmandu, and the first developer I met after I arrived there. He is a software engineer, an entrepreneur and a very active member of the Nepalese tech scene.

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Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

Namaste, I generally introduce myself as RubyNepal.org activist, which an open community of Ruby and Rails developers in Nepal. I have a Masters degree of Science in Information Technology and do Ruby on Rails consulting. I code as my profession as I love programming and working with computers. I chose computer science simply because geeks rule the world. That’s another way to put it.

I organize local Ruby meetups which happen usually once every month and promote other events as part of RubyNepal.org initiative. I also mentor newcomers by facilitating “Web Application development with Ruby on Rails” courses. Along with my few friends, I started a small company called TechEngine Solutions, which is an offshore web development shop specializing in outsourced web apps for startups of modern era. We generally use Ruby on Rails, Ember.js and other accompanying technologies to meet the quality of Silicon Valley based startups.

 

Your company is specialized in outsourcing. Who are your clients? Are they located in Nepal or in other countries?

Yes, I think most of software companies in Nepal are based on outsourcing model as labour is relatively much cheaper here compared to western countries. It is also due to the fact that Nepal is a young and developing country with abundant quality talent and low cost of livelihood which makes us ideal for outsourcing. Our clients are mostly from USA and Australia. You can see some of them in our website portfolio.

 

I find it funny that we have 3G on Everest ~382 km away from Kathmandu

How is the tech market in Nepal, especially in Consulting. Is it hard to find new clients or contracts?

The tech market is gaining more traction as more IT companies are emerging. Startup, hackathons and entrepreneurship culture is going strong recently. Nepal is renowned for it’s natural beauty and tourism and this makes it sometimes hard to convince clients that we have top talent here as people have only heard of Everest, Buddha and Gurkhas from Nepal. I find it funny that we have 3G on Everest ~382 km away from Kathmandu and people ask you have internet in the country’s capital, right?

 

What kind of projects/topics are you working on?

I just hacked out a moving service out of pure boredom and gave it a shot. Recently, I am working on a GIS system for a client. It is sort of like Uber for Kathmandu cabs.

 

For an entrepreneur, each problem is another opportunity

In Nepal, electricity is not continuously delivered and the network not always good. As a developer and an entrepreneur, how do you manage these issues?

It’s bitter true that life’s not easy here as a developer with long hours of load-shedding power cuts and often times not feasible to do due to lack of proper infrastructure. But, for an entrepreneur, each problem is another opportunity. The inverter and backup generator has bloomed here and we even have backup for internet just in case. If you have strong will; you always learn to cope with the shortcomings and find viable workarounds.

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Original story from Commit strip

 

Being curious, stay aware of the latest tools, trends and technologies, have good practices (TDD, craftsmanship…) are often mentioned values to be a “good” developer. What is your opinion?

This is very true and I try to keep myself updated whenever I have time and often tweet those which I find interesting. Rather than starting with short programming blog tips; I would recommend reading complete books like Clean Code, POODR and Gof Design Patterns. This will broaden your mind on the topic and you’ll have an in-depth knowledge of the whole subject. You should always sharpen your tools and refill your toolset with new items on your toolbelt keeping an eye on the horizon else you’ll be left behind.

 

You are one of the organizers of the Ruby meetup in Nepal. When did this community start? Why did you involved? What kind of events do you organize?

Inspired by attending RubyConf India 2013, I kick started Dev Meetup with help of Sprout (my then employer) and fellow developers to foster the growth Ruby/Rails and web community in Nepal.

A lot of other meetups and events started happening after this and were more focused on particular technology like javascript, php, python. The term “Dev Meetup” was too generic and as I was more into Ruby on Rails, so I started organizing Ruby meetups.

We meet every second Sunday of the month having two speakers to share their experience. Other than that we conduct bootcamps, training sessions and mentor newbies on RubyNepal slack channel.

More about the Ruby and Rails meetup Nepal

Ruby and Rails meetup Nepal

Ruby and Rails meetup Nepal

 

Now more general: Which are the communities around computer science in Nepal? Are those big? How do you do to encourage developers to join it? Is it easy to organize an event? Does the Nepalese companies help you?

There are lots of CS communities in Nepal so much so that we’ve devised an acronym of “DN:”, short for “Developers Nepal:” and usually prefix it with the name of developer community in Facebook or meetup.com like “DN: Nepal Ruby and Rails Users Group”. Just start typing “DN:” to search for developer groups and all of them are listed there and one can join any community that interests them.

I’ve been doing developer events for some time now and I can see that previously, it was hard to gather a good number of audience even after personal invitations. Now things are changing and its becoming more easier after using meetup.com to manage the events and also sponsorships from Nepalese companies help a lot.

These events help bring the Nepalese developers together and keep us updated with new trends.

Some developers communities in Nepal

 

What is your favorite technology or tool at the moment and why?

I got a new “Kindle Fire” tablet after having used “Kindle” for a few years. Besides that, my “OnePlus One phone and Macbook pro complete me. However, will I finally be learn to play the guitar remains a mystery.

What mobile application you could not live without?

I adore Twitter and loathe Facebook.

 

Women are leading the nation at the moment, so I can only see more women taking heed from this, in computer science and other fields as well

When we met, we talked about the fact that a few women were in computer science in Nepal. And you are yourself involved to increase this number. Why do you think it is important to have more women in IT? How do you involved in this?

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Women are particularly good at Maths and computer science and women like Ada Lovelace – first computer programmer and Grace Hopper – developer of first computer “compiler” also known as “Grandmother of COBOL” made the personal computer revolution possible.

Its sad to see not only in Nepal but everywhere that girls give-up even before trying in male dominated computer science and programming field. I am trying to promote girls into technology and around Ruby/Rails by organizing a RailsGirls event in near future.

There are also quite a few communities here especially focusing on women in IT like Girls In Technology, Women Lead Nepal, Women Leaders in Technology and Girls education Nepal.

Read more about Rojina Bajracharya, co-founder of Girls In Technology

Right now, Nepal has first female Head of State, i.e. President, first female Speaker of Parliament and first female Chief Justice of Nepal’s Supreme Court. Women are leading the nation at the moment, so I can only see more women taking heed from this, in computer science and other fields as well.

Read more about women in Tech: Binita Shrestha co-founder of Women In STEM Nepal & Nhasala Joshi, co-founder of Women Leaders in Technology.

 

Thank you Saroj!

And if you stop by Nepal, don’t hesitate to say hello to developers communities.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Sanjay Maharjan June 7, 2016 at 10:56 am

    I liked how Saroj Sir answered Nepal as a young and developing country. Most would just say Nepal is a poor country, being that as a fact. It was a nicely put interview with abundant information.

    • Reply Liberty July 13, 2016 at 6:19 am

      Your story was really inameoftivr, thanks!

  • Reply Sadiksha Gautam: "Being a developer? Never stop learning" - Tech beyond borders June 26, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    […] To read: Saroj Maharjan: “I chose computer science simply because geeks rule the world” […]

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