Mapping is a very difficult vertical; we are ahead of potential competitors: NextBillion.ai’s Ajay Bulusu
For Ajay Bulusu, who co-founded his now two-year-old location technology startup NextBillion.ai with Gaurav Bubna amid Covid, the challenge was to navigate the many hurdles posed by an unexpected pandemic and get clients on board. For instance, in-person meetings that are key to gain customer trust, at least for a fledgling company were almost incapacitated by the lockdowns. The Singapore-based startup helps businesses devise their own maps; they build location tools and APIs, enabling companies to tackle complex location problems. Sure, the space has a handful of established players like Google, and Bulusu acknowledges that to take on this ‘David vs Goliath battle’ in the middle of a pandemic was not easy.
“We are trying to disrupt a very, very established business with a very, very new thought process. When you are trying to create a new market and the whole world is locked up, there is a lot of uncertainty... the challenges were mainly will people even trust in what we are saying, what we are building,” says Bulusu.
But the startup is confident of the solution it is developing, the co-founders believe that they have an edge and are not really worried about competition. For one, mapping is a technically very difficult vertical, sort of posing an entry barrier in itself for potential competitors. Bulusu says mapping needs to be understood deeply, it is not like hiring a bunch of engineers, coding and building a platform. As far as the big players are concerned, Bulusu says: “the older folks have built it over 25 years. It is very difficult to rearchitect everything from scratch and build it in a way that the new era of enterprises are moving. Enterprise systems have changed. Mobile applications have come instead of web. The mobile applications have evolved… that was not structured for it at all, the whole systems. We are a couple of years ahead already of anybody who wants to do it,” says Bulusu.