When Prashant Gupta bought his first car, he was looking for a solution that would connect his car to the ‘smart’ world. The existing solutions required tedious wire cutting and a long installation process. Additionally, the feedback on many of these systems was patchy. He decided that he would build a device that connected users with their cars by leveraging the BS IV standardisation. Thus, emerged Zyme – a range of plug and play devices that connect users to their cars and help track the whereabouts and performance - anytime, anywhere.
Zyme houses a mobile SIM card, and attaches to an easily accessible On-Board Diagnostic-II (OBD-II) port. It sends driving analysis, vehicle location, and vehicle health information to a mobile app in real time – these include real-time tracking, multi-vehicle tracking, theft and towing alarms, notifications every time the car is turned on or off, rash driving, and over speeding alerts. The app even serves vehicle owners with driving scores and understands the areas that they need help with. There were two essential ingredients needed to ensure success –as a part of the development of the product, a lot of computing power was required to build the product, test it and get it market ready; the second was a willing market.
“We were unsure about acceptance, so we started with a small pilot to test out the waters. We built a simple website with screenshots of the designs we had in mind along with a pre-order link. We intentionally kept this as a paid pre-order so as to gauge actual interest rather than just numbers spiked by impulse buying tendencies,” says Ankesh Thakur, Chief Technology Officer and the self-confessed hacker of the group.
Beyond personal use, the Zyme solution is also useful for cab, logistics and delivery companies and even the government for vehicle tracking and optimisation. It helps optimise routes, save fuel, avoid misuse and ensure better safety and security.
Zyme aims to create a connected cars ecosystem where the car’s data is analysed to create valuable insights. There are two product variants:
Zyme Lite, is a purely telematics-based variant that pairs to a smartphone via Bluetooth (when the user’s smartphone is inside his car) to record all his trips and render all technical parameters of the engine onto his mobile via the Zyme application. This includes trip-wise analysis, fuel consumption analysis, engine health monitoring, HUD compatible real-time dashboard, dashcam, nearby petrol pumps/mechanics and much more.
Zyme Pro, is a telematics plus tracking tool that acts as a standalone device and comes with a pre-fitted SIM card along with a GPS chip, vibration sensor, accelerometer and battery built into the device itself. The device automatically connects to Zyme’s secure servers to log data of a user’s car which he can then access via the mobile application. The user is notified instantly if anything happens with his car including ignition on, ignition off, rash driving, theft, towing, collision, high coolant temperature, low battery voltage, and much more.
“These two variants also have B2C as well as B2B use cases and we are currently expanding to different verticals where our devices can be used to create value. We are also building a very interesting prototype for the RTO to automate and standardise driving test centres in India which will enter the pilot phase shortly,” says Ankesh.
The pilot started on May 10, 2016 and continued till the end of June. The core team came together in August and comprises friends and IIT Kanpur alumni Prashant Gupta, Founder and CEO; Nishtha Singhal, the designer, and Ankesh.
“The biggest challenge we faced was educating customers to this entirely new concept of OBD-based telematics through an already existing port in their car. Many didn’t even realise that such a port existed in their car. This lead to very high customer acquisition costs,” says Ankesh.
He adds that the team never left the product at the MVP stage and have, ever since its launch, focussed on creating concrete customer value. This has led to their Daily Active Users being about 65 percent of their customers and their Monthly Active Users touching an impressive 90 percent.
“Customer reviews of our product have also helped greatly. Even today, our founders dedicate at least one hour a day exclusively for customer service calls and training of support staff,” says Ankesh.
Zyme is currently a customer-facing firm and generates revenue per device sold and also ensures recurring revenues from existing customers since 70 percent of their business comes from the Pro variant, which is a subscription-based solution and requires AMCs – something the founders say customers know and are happy to pay. “After building a large customer base, we can leverage the same to push products such as insurances, accessories, spare parts etc. directly to our customers. We are now entering the B2B space with our products and building solutions for corporate fleets, logistics providers as well as schools for tracking their vehicles. We are also building a very interesting prototype for the government where our goal is to ultimately automate and standardise driving tests across the country using technology,” says Ankesh. But yes, he adds that they are currently looking to raise funds.
Ankesh had in fact started developing the entire technical infrastructure on his three-year-old Dell Inspiron series laptop, which was remarkable given the performance degradation that laptops generally undergo. And as they began to scale-up, Zyme needed a robust, cost-effective and worry-free hardware solution to power their solution. They found Dell hardware to the most reliable and durable during this process. They currently use Inspiron 7000 series laptops with i5 7th-gen processors and an 8 GB RAM. Today, its GPU is helping them build Machine Learning based driving behaviour algorithms which they are going to offer in the near future.
“We are a growing business with every passing day, our requirements increase manifold and thus our team size. This recognition will grant us access to the hardware for the kind of technical requirements we have," Ankesh adds. "Moreover, a presence on YourStory will enable us to reach a larger audience and make our presence known in the market – something that is essential for a startup!"