• Start-up navigates its way to success

    September 21, 2016

    Few people would realise that the Singapore traffic data in their Google Maps mobile application is provided by a small start-up that began at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

    Mr. Saurav Bhattacharyya, the 34-year-old co-founder of Quantum Inventions, admits to his firm’s relatively low profile.

    “We need to have our name better heard of. Our brands tend to go ahead of us,” says the former NTU researcher.

    Quantum Inventions is perhaps best known for its Galactio brand of navigation software, which is used in Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation devices for cars. The software was launched in October 2010.

    “Galactio was our first proper consumer product, which has a very different stress level compared to B2B (business-to-business),” says Mr Bhattacharyya.

    “The first six months were a lot of active nail-biting and ensuring the product would stick in the market, and that it was not going to be a one-hit wonder.”

    But Galactio is now “very comfortably in the top one or two places in Singapore either by volume or by presence”, compared to other navigation software.

    Brands of GPS devices that use the Galactio software include Holux and Marbella.

    He adds that Quantum Inventions began looking at taking Galactio overseas in October 2011 after being convinced that the software was good enough for the consumer market and could survive amid competition from big players such as Garmin and TomTom.

    It is now focusing on working with distribution partners to put its navigation software into on- board navigation systems installed on vehicle dashboards and rolling out that product worldwide.

    The firm has begun a partnership in Thailand and is actively in talks with potential partners in Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the Middle East and Latin America, Mr Bhattacharyya says.

    Despite its emphasis on products today, Quantum Inventions began as a services firm. It was set up in September 2005 and became operational in September 2006 after buying a routing algorithm developed by NTU.

    In its first three years, the firm mostly licensed its routing software for use in server systems to government agencies.

    But that changed in September 2009 after the firm received enough seed funding to go into product development, which was when it began developing Galactio, Mr Bhattacharyya says.

    “We had been profitable. The moment we went into product development, we became not profitable, but with much higher growth capability… Our growth today is in the consumer space.”

    The company also recently ventured into the mobile apps market with the creation of an app called mapSYNQ, launched in February.

    Search giant Google has already been using real-time traffic data from Quantum Inventions for its Google Maps service in Singapore since November 2009.

    Mr Bhattacharyya says mapSYNQ would be progressively upgraded to include mobile navigation, at which point it would “have to compete with hundreds of other products, including free ones, but that’s where we’ll bring in our strengths”.

    MapSYNQ users will be able to save personalised routes, sync information across their Internet- connected GPS devices that are mapSYNQ-compatible and access traffic data provided by Quantum Inventions.

    He says Quantum Inventions constantly measures the quality of its traffic data by checking how accurately the data is used to predict travel time and traffic delays.

    “We are traffic data professionals, not just somebody who puts it on a map with colours.”

    Quantum Inventions is now focusing on working with distribution partners to put its navigation software into on-board navigation systems installed on vehicle dashboards, and rolling out that product worldwide.

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