While heading the telematics business unit of a large MNC, Ashok Yerneni found the market to be highly fragmented, with a few enterprising businessmen importing Chinese hardware and remarketing with simply a Windows application. He sensed the lack of a credible enterprise level solution. That was when he met co-founders Vikas Minda and Abhijit Das (experts in enterprise applications development) who were also keen to build similar solutions.
With the maturity of Google Maps for India, reduced prices of GSM/GPS chipsets, availability of GPRS/3G networks and cloud computing, Ashok felt that the market was ripe to build solutions around telematics solutions for enterprise, and founded AsseTrackr in 2013.
Ensuring safety of people, vehicles and equipment
Bengaluru-based AssetTrackr offers fleet management solutions that can track, analyse and optimise the business operations. Its delivery dispatch solution (Zoblite) can schedule, manage and optimise delivery services or distribution of products from warehouses to retail outlets.
In addition to the B2B offering, AssetTrackr also has a solution called SafeKar for safety of personal vehicles. The solution allows checking vehicle location every 10 secs, speed, movement, unintended trips, stoppage, and distance travelled and allows remote immobilisation of the vehicle and geo-fencing of a route for safety of children/passengers.
AssetTrackr has a small hardware device that gets installed in the vehicle. This device uses the GPS satellite data to retrieve the current location and send this information through GPRS network to the cloud-hosted servers.
The cloud servers receive this information, process it, map it onto Google Maps and present the information to the user. Analytics are automatically run to generate useful information in the form of reports.
Initially, the founding team was not happy with the quality of the third-party hardware and ended up designing their own hardware and getting it assembled with local EMS (electronic manufacturing service) houses.
“Our cloud-hosted software was developed from scratch on the Amazon Cloud-hosting platform and uses the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack as the base layer,” says Ashok, adding that their system has demonstrated to be up 99.9 percent of the time with almost no down time over the last three years.
An alumnus of IIT Madras, Ashok brings more than 20 years of industry experience systems, software, telematics working in companies like IBM, SGI, NetApp, Broadware (acquired by Cisco), Bandspeed (acquired by QUALCOMM), redBus (acquired by Ibibo), TutorVista (acquired by Pearson LLC) and Laird Tech.
The challenge was to build the first hardware product, which took almost a year, and roll it out for selling. Then the startup raised a angel round of $500,00 to invest in sales and manufacturing.
MorningStar Travels was the first client having installed the device of AssetTrackr in their Volvo buses and the next two months were spent collecting the data and working on user interface.
Today, AssetTrackr has more than 300 clients including Big Basket, ITC, GMR Highways, DTDC and Spar Hypermarkets.
Big Basket deploys AssetTrackr devices in all of its customer delivery and warehouse trucks that collect fresh produce. Using AssetTrackr RestAPI, Big Basket integrated the AssetTrackr platform into their own ERP/CRM system for customer service management and analytics. Using AssetTrackr’s GPS-based odometer, DTDC has been able to automate the tracking, billing and invoicing. In addition, DTDC also gets a daily dashboard view of their expenses.
Currently, AssetTrackr has 25 employees and follows a SaaS model to generate revenue. Customers pay for the devices and installation and a monthly subscription fee per device.
Asset and fleet management in India
According to the report Indian Vehicle Tracking and Fleet Management Market, 2013-17, the Indian vehicle tracking market is set to double in size by 2017. India’s infrastructure investment plan of nearly $1 trillion and construction of an additional 15,000km of highway by 2017 are expected to drive the demand growth for tracking and fleet management across India.
The strong demand for tracking and fleet management is coming from market segments like logistics, mining, construction and employee transportation. Looking at the huge market opportunity, startups seem to be betting high on the innovations around fleet management solution. Locatera, for example, helps schools manage their fleet of buses in a more efficient way through a ‘tri-app’ methodology. Fleetrover allows businesses to monitor their fleet and drill down to specific assets and their current status or outstanding alerts. Heuristics is a GPS-based vehicle tracking system (VTS) and mobile-based personnel tracking solutions.