Since July last year, when his startup Nivaata opened, nearly ten clients, including multinational companies, have signed up. As a mobile application Verayu has been installed on the central server of a global business process outsourcing firm. Employees who use the cab service provided by the company and driver of the cab can find out each other's location using Verayu. The system can also be programmed to send out text message alerts to families of employees about their location.
Location-based applications are set to be the biggest slice of business for the start-up as the global market for such services is expected to cross $10 billion in 2015, up from almost $3 billion in 2010, according to data from Pyramid Research. Nivaata is working with companies in Bangalore, Delhi-NCR and Mumbai, charging a maximum of 450 monthly for every device. In contrast, for a basic GPS-based system, there is an average installation cost of 10,000 plus monthly charges of up to 700 per device, said Kannan.
Sharad Sharma, who led the research arm at Yahoo! India, expects Verayu's cellphone tower-based tracking to find a market among cost-conscious Indian enterprises. "Companies want cost effective solutions, so this technology will work better over GPS-based tracking devices that require considerable initial investment and are more expensive to run," he said. The company is in pilot phase with TaxiforSure, a taxi aggregation start-up which connects passengers with cab operators, including organised and unorganised service providers.
"We want to install devices to track cabs so we know which cab is closest to a passenger," said TaxiforSure's co-founder Aprameya Radhakrishna, an IIM-Ahmedabad graduate who launched the service last year and is now evaluating Verayu. "GPS is more accurate but this system can be installed on a normal mobile phone and does not need any upfront investment from the cab driver." A large mobile operator is also using the technology to track its sales force, Kannan says, declining to identify the company. S Rajagopalan, professor of geographical information systems at the Indian Institute of Information and Technology in Bangalore says non-GPS based location technologies have so far struggled to find paying users.