Mr Saurav Bhattacharyya, Executive Director of Quantum Inventions
Finding your way, reinvented
05:55 AM Oct 14, 2009
by Cheow Xin Yi
SINGAPORE – A lack of business experience has not deterred Mr Saurav Bhattacharyya, a former university researcher with a computer engineering background, to leap into the corporate world.
The co-founder and executive director of Quantum Inventions (QI), a navigation software company, said he is driven by his passion to commercialise his research and development (R&D) findings.
“We were all researchers, we were publishing a lot of papers but we want to see our technology being used rather than just being published,” said the 31-year-old, while making reference to three other partners in the company as well.
“We are self-driven and believe … that our product will address a gap in the market and make everyone’s lives more convenient.”
Although navigation software is not new, Mr Bhattacharyya, a Singapore permanent resident, believes that his technology is reinventing navigation systems in two ways.
“One is we are making it more responsive. Two, we are bringing in new features like traffic information. Today, we are a traffic data provider as well as a navigation system vendor. We created a new business model out of the technology,” he added.
QI was founded in 2006 with the help of his Nanyang Technological University professor and an angel investor – whom Mr Bhattacharyya took about a year to rope in.
Along with three other partners, they started building the business from scratch – by first targeting companies with a need for enhanced geographical information such as logistics companies and fleet owners.
“There were a lot of obstacles along the way such as managing clients or how we get contracts,” said Mr Bhattacharyya.
“We didn’t even know what a contract looked like! So our first contract took a long time to close,” he recounted laughing. “Since then, we have gotten smarter. We now have a template and a format, we know how to go about things,” he added.
Despite the steep learning curve and “the harsh realities” of doing business, the company turned profitable in only two-and-a-half years, while revenue doubled every year. However, he declined to disclose any figures. Besides “luck” and hard work, Mr Bhattacharyya attributed the company’s financial success to the long-standing contracts that the company have with several customers.
The company now prides itself on its clients and partners list, which includes the Ministry of Defence and the Land Transport Authority. The company has also roped in Spring Singapore as a co-investor.
After the firm’s success in penetrating the corporate market, QI now has plans to venture into the consumer segment in Singapore and in the region.
Mr Bhattacharyya pointed out that the penetration of navigation systems in vehicles worldwide is about 20 per cent of the total vehicle market size. This is translated to about US$4 billion ($5.6 billion) in developed markets such as the United States, Europe and Japan but only US$400 million in Asia. This means that growth potential in Asia remains attractive for the company.
“You can imagine – a market size one tenth that of the developed market, which is still one-fifth of the total market size. There are huge gaps and requirements in this part of the world for this business area,” he said.
Although QI’s technology can now be used in navigation devices including mobile phones, Mr Bhattacharyya said “they have been waiting for the right timing and opportunity to launch the product”.
However, motorists can access real-time traffic information on some global positioning system navigation devices through their Galactio software brand.
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