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It's great to be unique!
Currently, RouteGuru provides the following services to various businesses:
- Online maps and directions; APIs (application programming interface) and widgets for other consumer-facing portals like city guides/travel and tourism sites; real estate and searches, etc.
- RouteGuru on-the-go (RouteHints SMS) service which provides the total distance between the two locations, along with the transportation-fare-- the only service in the world to do so, by SMS. To avail this service, the user needs to send "rg <source> to <destination>" by SMS to 56767" (Example SMS: "rg iit to sector 18, noida" -- works for DelhiNCR locations).
- Routing solutions for events/business locations include doorstep directions (usually the hassle-prone part) for the guest from the starting point of the journey. This service includes parking and other value-added information, routing logistics for locations within event-campuses, and last but not least, convenient SMS-based request and reference-able delivery over SMS.
- Store locator services which is an easy to deploy Web/mobile solution for multi-outlet businesses to enable their customers to easily get to-the-spot. These include crisp directions to the outlet-doorstep, parking and other valuable information, thereby increasing overall footfall to the outlet. The information can be requested by the potential customer over SMS and/or Web, and is delivered over SMS. The application is ideal for ATM locations, automobile service centres, restaurant chains, branded product outlets, etc.
- Integration with local business search services/engines to offer their customers with directions to reach them. This integration ensures an additional step towards increasing footfall to business locations.
- Consumer mobile VAS: Directions, auto-fare, bus-info over SMS, voice or WAP.
Agrawal reveals that the key to success lies in being unique. So what is it that makes RouteGuru a one-of-its-kind platform? To this Agrawal says, "....we have been able to position ourselves as thought-leaders in our domain because of several 'firsts' in consumer product innovation. Currently, the Auto-fare and RouteHints finder service available on-the-go over an SMS are the first of its kind, globally."
An obsessive consumer focus and disruptive thinking have been the key differentiators in making RouteGuru the most admired GIS (geographic information system) product start-up from India.
The technology behind the platform
At the core of the RouteGuru offerings is the consumer-oriented mapping data. Agrawal adds, "We have licensed this data through our partner Eicher Goodearth. The data is further enriched manually by our data team with several 'points-of-interests' (POIs), which is again processed to build a desired structure. Then our patent-pending processes build the landmark intelligence while calculating the route between two locations and present the directions in the usable format."
RouteGuru aims to continue adding new functionalities to the application. For example, very soon users shall be able to edit/append/modify a landmark or other direction details generated by the platform (in cases where they know the way and wish to add to/ modify details generated by the platform) before printing/e-mailing them to others, says Agrawal.
The RouteGuru brigade
Agrawal narrates the story behind RouteGuru's inception and the coming together of its core team: "We all face problems in our day-to-day life. Many complain. Most silently subscribe to the situation. But entrepreneurs think about how they can solve it? For it to be perceived as a potential business opportunity, our relevant professional experience almost always becomes a key driver.
"The same happened to me. When I relocated to Delhi in 2002, I faced the hassle of locating places in the city, whether for a business meeting, an event in town, or for a dinner with friends. This was due to unstructured addressing systems, complex road networks, limited signage on roads, etc. There was no solution that worked on the ground. Being from the geographical information industry, with a technology background, and bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, it naturally occurred to me that given the size of the Indian market, and with the Internet and mobile revolution that we're witnessing, this could be an opportunity to create magnificent value by using technology 'appropriately' to solve this problem for all."
Team RouteGuru has three main players at the helm of affairs, driving the innovation culture in the firm. Avinash Agrawal, founder and CEO, who has a B.Tech degree from IIT Mumbai, embodies RouteGuru's product vision and strategy. Piyush Gupta, co-founder and chief marketing officer, heads marketing and business development. Rajesh Ragavan, co-founder, head-- GIS operations, brings 18 years of GIS cartography and data quality management experience to the firm. Besides the core team, the firm has a few students from IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi, and Delhi's business schools, who work with the firm on part-time R&D and market-related assignments.
The team believes that it pays to be innovative. Agrawal affirms, "Innovation is the only means to differentiate, survive and stay ahead in the game." So how do they ensure that a culture of innovation is kept alive in the firm? Agrawal states, "RouteGuru's core team is a mixture of young and experienced minds, which is key to building and sustaining the innovation culture.
"We derive our inspiration from highly innovative companies like Google and Apple.