Lightmetrics, an Indian-based tech start-up that invented an app capable of giving a 360-degree view of driving behaviour, came to visit Vancouver’s new Simon Fraser VentureLabs in early December 2015. Now Lightmetrics is ready to target the Canadian market.
Lighmetric is one of the five winners of the Next Big Idea contest held by Zone Start-up India, the first Canadian-led international incubator/accelerator in India: a collaboration between SFU, Ryerson University, Ryerson Futures Inc., and the Bombay Stock Exchange Institute.
An app to help drivers
The app is a tool that uses smartphone sensors to help the people behind the wheel. The setup is really easy: the camera phone needs to face the road and from the dashboard, the app can figure out distances and driving behaviours of surrounding cars, like braking and acceleration; read traffic signs on the fly; tell if the car in front ran a red light and how aggressively the person ahead is driving.
“What if a driver is stuck in snow and tries to accelerate, or if I’m driving and there is a skateboarder or a dog on the street. The app helps us deal with that,” says Krishna A. G., product manager and co-founder of Lightmetrics.
A.G. believes the potentials of this app are enormous. From insurance companies being able to price policies based on driving behaviour, to fleet companies tracking their drivers and using the videos for driving behaviour coaching.
“We are not trying to go alone in the market, but we are trying to work with existing insurance and fleet management companies, to add our device on top of their technologies. That’s the primary reason we visited Canada,” says A.G., adding, “There is still a challenge with uploading the data since the app works all in real time.”
The Lightmetrics team is composed of six people who worked together at Nokia for five years. They made the choice of using the smartphone technology because they thought it was the best way to get into the market, but in the future there will be the opportunity to have it on any kind of device.
“Visiting Canada, for us, was primarily customer discovery. The western market is ready to receive this technology because the basic telemetric stuff is already there installed on commercial vehicles for now,” says A.G. “The visit was a complete success and there are potential partners in Canada to work with in the new year.”
SFU VentureLabs: acceleration program in the heart of Downtown Vancouver
The Simon Fraser VentureLabs – an exploration program helping companies to develop their market, validate their business opportunities and connect them with financing and customers –
also offers mentorship in the tech sector. When Lighmetric came to Vancouver to visit the VentureLabs, located inside the Harbour Centre, they were connected with different groups: experts in different technology areas, customers and Indian entrepreneurs in Vancouver.
“Indian companies are doing international business already from India; 20 per cent of their business, in general, is coming from international locations over the internet; but having contact here in Canada, is a big advantage for them,” says Ian Hand, executive director at the VentureLabs.
VentureLabs is going to be fully operative at the end of the first quarter of 2016, meaning there are going to be regular trips with Canadian companies to locations like India and China to do business development.
“Companies from India and China will get assistance here at VentureLabs with entering the Canadian market; likewise, Canadian companies will get assistance there too. We believe that Canadian start-ups need to be born global, they need to have an eye on business outside Canada because, while our market is a good one, it’s really small,” says Hand.
Meanwhile for Lightmetrics, the next step will be to take action with the customers.
“The next step is to target the Canadian market more aggressively, which will mean visiting Canada a lot or transfering there,” says A.G.