The Journey With RoadMetrics and 100X.VC So Far
It's close to a year since we started with RoadMetrics and this journey has been nothing short of spectacular. I thought I'd share our journey so far in the hope that it adds value to you.
The journey began in June of 2019 when Dipen Babariya and Mishal Jariwala, just out of college, were working on an idea of mapping road conditions using emerging technology.
Rapid advancements in cloud computing, machine learning and AI meant that image data and sensor data from a simple smartphone can be used to identify various characteristics from roads and road conditions in particular.
The first breakthrough came when Surat's Smart City initiative agreed to sign an MoU to have a pilot project in the city of Surat.
Soon after, they moved to Bangalore, to officially start this as a company and that's where I come in the picture. I had recently moved back to India, after having worked in the US in the LiDAR mapping and EV industry.
RoadMetrics was incorporated in October of 2019 and we initially started with a basic proof-of-concept, a RoadMetrics enterprise dashboard application, where we would map road conditions using our AI algorithm to identify different types of road characteristics (cracks, raveling, deep potholes, etc.).
“The ability to extract vital road condition information for budget allocations and prioritizing maintenance was our unique selling point.”
The above is a snapshot of our dashboard platform version 1.0 and our RoadMetrics Navigation App that alerts users of impending danger zones.
Our First Breakthrough: 100X.VC
After working on the technology for over six months with a working platform and a pilot project in hand, we were raising our seed round to help us scale our operations and expand R&D.
The biggest challenge that early stage startups face is not just raising money, but other key factors such as mentorship, access to key industry connections, and help raising the next round.
In early November, on our second attempt applying to 100X, we were invited to their office in Mumbai to meet with their team and pitch our startup.
“Within just a matter of a day, the decision to invest in RoadMetrics was made.”
Here's the best part about 100X—they use an ISAFE note, a convertible instrument, where all that's needed is an agreement for future equity and the money hits the bank.
100X has a well balanced team with the Founder Partner, Sanjay Mehta, having previously been an early investor in Softbank backed Oyo and LogiNext to name a few.
Their vision is impressive, with the intent to invest in 100 startups all in the span of a year!
Between the last week of November and early December of 2019, we had a two week program where founders and investors from various big name companies and startups, either through Sanjay Mehta's portfolio companies or through 100X's connections, would come and share their journey.
“The main goal with 100X is to help their startups scale up and raise the next round quickly.”
All of this finally ending on Pitch Day on the 7th of December, where we had to pitch to an exclusive audience of some of the biggest family offices and VCs from India and abroad.
Journey After 100X.VC
Since raising our seed round with 100X, and with their help, we've been able to raise awareness for RoadMetrics by being featured on various media publications and that's led to our first major customer—Tata City, Jamshedpur.
“As a fledgling startup, attention is invaluable and acts as a gateway to finding customers, hiring key talent and finding the right investors.”
100X's team frequently travels throughout India to engage with their portfolio startups and provide introductions to new connections as well as share their thoughts on the direction forward.
The Future With RoadMetrics: Complete Street Mapping and LiDAR
We're now in the process of planning our expansion ahead with complete street mapping that utilizes image data to identify various characteristics from streets by continuing to leverage emerging technology, ML/AI.
“Street mapping data is valuable for various businesses that leverage this for data driven intelligent solutions.”
For any Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) and/or autonomous driving initiative, HD maps with cm level precision is a must for an AI based software to make decisions.
LiDAR is a key component for high precision HD maps.
Our plan ahead includes mapping 10 Tier-I cities in India by the end of 2020 and expand with further R&D.
The journey so far has been a mix of amazing highs and lows. The key to starting anything innovative is that it requires a lot of patience and trial and error.
I'm extremely grateful to have a great team with me, early investors who believe in us and a startup ecosystem in India that's increasingly getting better each year!