Nayan, a start-up firm, which provides vital technology to Dubai police to monitor roads and detect traffic violations, aims to build on its successes and expand across the Middle East and South East Asia as it caters to high demand for road safety.
“The company was started in 2017 to support government organisations to solve problems in cities for instance, traffic violations, road irregularities, illegal parking, infrastructure problems, among others. We signed our first contract with Dubai police in December and are looking to expand in the Middle East,” said Jayant Ratti, founder of the company.
The company is also active in India and is working with various agencies to improve road safety.
Nayan’s ‘SaaS & enterprise’ product uses CCTV cameras, drones and other video cameras to capture traffic violations and hazardous road conditions. It can also capture vehicle defects to improve safety on the roads.
Mr Ratti did his PhD in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence from Georgia Institute of Technology in the US. It was there that he first conceptualised the idea to start a company that can solve problems on the road and help in the smooth movement of traffic.
“The business model for Nayan came out of my driving an Uber, in Atlanta, Georgia,” said Mr Ratti.
“I could see various problems on the roads like pile up of vehicles due to accidents, fatal accidents, broken infrastructure, illegal parking and other issues which was hindering the smooth flow of traffic.”
With the rapid advancement in technology, “I thought these issues can be resolved and focused on developing the product that could monitor roads.”
When Mr Ratti moved back to India in 2017, after 10 years in the US, he decided to set up the firm with an initial investment of $250,000 (Dh918,000). The company also raised funds to the tune of $2 million through investments made by Japanese companies and angel investors in Abu Dhabi and Dubai subsequently. Nayan is currently cash positive and not looking to raise any additional funding, he said.
In 2018, the company opened a remote-office in Dubai and began engaging various government organisations including Dubai Police on how the new product can be leveraged in monitoring roads.
“The technology which we are supplying is able to do a better job in terms of cost, security and dependability. US, European technologies are expensive, while Chinese technologies have some cyber-crime concerns.”
To boost growth and scale, Nayan entered into an agreement with Gulf Business Machines (GBM) to support Dubai Police, Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority in partnership with Dubai Technologies.
“We see tremendous growth potential for our AI based solutions to cater to multiple industry problems like traffic management, infrastructure management, fleet management, safety maps," Mr Ratti said. "Along with Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAE, we intend to expand in Middle East and look for opportunities in Saudi Arabia.”
Currently, Nayan’s team consists of 18 engineers and 14 full time contract employees. It was also part of Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) programme of Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) that facilitates the collaboration between government entities and private sector to provide new opportunities for start up companies.
Nayan was the only company to win a contract opportunity after performing well in DFA's cohort 6.
Mr Ratti praised the initiatives started by the UAE government in developing a healthy start-up eco-system.
“Due to cutting edge technological innovations happening in Dubai and UAE, and being a favourable investment destination, it is an excellent performer as a region conducive for start-up growth, he said. "We are getting tremendous support from government officials in finding the right channels to expand our base.”
What is the vision of the company in the next five years?
To expand in the Middle East as well as in South East Asia. The demand for road safety is high in these regions due to growing number of accidents and traffic violations due to growing populations, tourism and trade, which is also impacting the economy.
Nayan wants to create 1 million digital jobs and make governments and people work together to make cities smart and safe.
What new skills Mr Ratti learnt in the process of launching the company?
Dealing with different kinds of people, demographies and economic classes, who can use technologies and become more efficient, and self-sustaining. Artificial intelligence will boost automation in future and create a new work force focused on the data sciences needs of the future.
What already successful start up do you wish you have started?
Uber because it changed the concept of transportation. It was a very successful experiment which benefitted both service takers as well as service providers. It provided an opportunity for people to earn a living and at the same time transportation through taxis has become easy and cheaper.
Based: Dubai with an office in New Delhi, India
Launch year: 2018
Number of employees: 32
Sector: Information technologies and artificial intelligence
Funding: Initial investment of $250,000. The company also raised $2 million in funds through angel investors, Singapore and Japanese investors