The world is opening up to the potential of greenfield technologies like biotechnology and nanotechnology. The immense potential and opportunities that the space holds makes it an enticing space for entrepreneurs to enter as well. Geospatial technology is another such growing field of study along with biotechnology and nanotechnology. Governments and companies, be it startups or corporates are using the technology to progress in areas of transport and energy. One such startup is GeoSpice Technologies, founded by brothers Ricky and Nicky Jacob.
Entrepreneurship brought the brothers together
Ricky and Nicky are siblings but have lived quite far away from each other in their own worlds. While Nicky was working in Kuwait, Ricky Jacob, was completing his Ph.D. thesis in Computer Science from NUI Maynooth, Ireland. Ricky, has worked in the area of geotechnology since 2003. He has worked on integrating haptic feedback into Mobile Location Based Services.His experience varies from academic research to leading Google India’s geo data team for two years. Nicky on the other had several years of experience leading teams in India and Kuwait in the area of sensor networks and M2M communications to provide centralised monitoring and automation.
Since the beginning of 2012, Ricky and Nicky were thinking of starting something together. And although they have indepth knowledge in the field of geo technology, when thinking of starting up they looked at the normal street food business, travel/tourism products to home automation for starting up. “However, none of them took off. Then when we looked back at our expertise and skill sets and understanding of the market, we realised that we would rather work in the geo technology space in India. This is still a very much under-utilised, yet an important domain and we believe there is so much we can offer,” shares Ricky. And that is when Nicky quit his job in Kuwait and moved to Kerala to setup GeoSpice with his brother.
The use of geospatial technologies have been limited to search, social location sharing via check-ins, etc. However, the penetration of the technology in the area of transportation, energy, water, utilities, etc. is despicably low. “Public transportation, for instance, can be the highest beneficiary of this technology. Given the bad shape of our public vehicles, people have lost faith with the timings and its exactitude. That is where we have decided to step in with our offerings,” shares Nicky. And the duo thought it was about time Indians starts leveraging these technologies to make people and work smarter.
GeoSpice is a provider of location-as-a-service. With a distributed workforce in India and Ireland, GeoSpice offers cloud-based web and mobile location based services, that can integrate real-time location information and data analytics. GeoSpice currently works in the following domain - public transport management system, vehicle telematics data and smartphone enabled pedestrian movement data analytics.
“To explain in layman terms, we intend to work on providing all the information related to public transport like arrival time, wait time, travel time, optimal ways to travel, etc. A bus late by 15 to 20 minutes is considered to be normal in India; however that should not be the case. With real time tracking that we intend to provide, people will start getting thrifty about time. We Indians are known to be prudent about money, however not so when it comes to time. We intend to change that,” laughs Ricky. The product facilitates decision making by integrating location information with other sensor and contextual data. GeoSpice has liaised with bus operators to provide a dashboard to help manage the resources and provide commuters with real-time information on their mobile devices.
The brothers also claim to have built real-time analytics tool based on human movement data through smartphones and the product is called Odikyo: Runner Tracking, a platform that provides real-time runner tracking and analytics. The name Odikyo simply means “to run” in Malayalam – their mother tongue.
Their present source of revenue lies in providing these services to government agencies, public transport and car owners as well as through advertising. “Targeted location based ads through mobile apps is one of the sources of revenue. Given the technical prowess we have, there are a lot of third party developers who intend to use our API. It constitutes one of the chunks for revenue too,” shares Nicky. The firm intends to build consumer products in the location based services space too. The firm is based out of Startup Village, Kerala.
Their Odikyo product has been used for location visualisation and real-time analytics by participants at marathons in Ireland. Recently it was used at the Cork City Marathon in Ireland (www.odikyo.com/runs). However, in India, the use of such technology is yet to be catechized. With the launch of IRNSS-1A, India’s first navigation satellite, India has stepped into that putative league and this promises to spiral the growth of apposite fields in India.
The firm with its cutting edge technology has also managed to bag ample number of awards which include the second rank at Startup Weekend Dublin, No. 2 spot in Open Innovations 2.0 Dublin, Microsoft Bizspark India Startup Challenge 2013: Cochin Regional Finalist etc. are some of the accolades they have already landed.
Besides the two brothers, the team includes a Chinese and Libyan national, both with doctorates in their fields.
A new technology and a new market makes their task that much more challenging and the duo know patience will be an important asset in growing up. They are also in the process of affiliating with premier knowledge labs in the country to dole out more insightful data.
“In the coming years, we wish to establish GeoSpice as a pioneer in geo-technologies in the area of real-time data analytics, location based services and data visualisation. We plan to also address the African and the South East Asian markets with our products and services where we see huge potential for implementation,” say the duo.