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Now here's a solution that addresses the hassle of finding our way through unfamiliar lanes and it doesn't depend on GPS.
There is a Turkish proverb that says, "Many will show you the way once your cart has overturned." Most of us have experienced such a scenario-- en route to an unfamiliar destination, we struggle and have to ask people for directions. But the right guide usually appears too late, by which time we would have ended up travelling over innumerable streets that lead nowhere.
The market is abuzz with GPS-based navigation solutions, which come at a significant cost (Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000), and which require the buyer to make frequent updates.
But there's an easier way out. RouteGuru's recently launched landmark, intelligent, turn-by-turn directions service aims to solve consumers' problems with finding locations easily. This uses ubiquitous access tools like SMS, Voice and WAP (wireless application protocol), without any hardware requirements like a GPS device. According to the firm, it is the first and the only directions service that actually works well on the highly unstructured Indian landscape.
RouteGuru.com, the Web platform that enables users to print/e-mail turn-by-turn directions, was launched in June 2007.
Avinash Agrawal, CEO, RouteGuru reveals the functionalities of the platform: "A user can visit RouteGuru's website to find directions and other related information like the total distance and auto-rickshaw fare. Users can also push RouteHints from the website to any mobile in India as an SMS. Likewise, using SMS, a user can pull directions and relevant information while on-the-go without needing an Internet connection. Our focus is to solve the common man's hassle in locating new places in the city."
Regarding the thought that led to these innovations, Agrawal reveals, "With active consumer behaviour studies, the RouteGuru team found that 80 per cent of the hassle lies in locating 20 per cent of the route, namely in locating the last-mile vicinity of the destination. This problem has not been solved by any graphical maps or GPS receivers, because the map data simply does not contain the route to the doorstep of the destination. RouteGuru has pioneered an innovative solution to the problem, helping consumers to reach their destination's doorstep. Currently, this idea is in the process of patent filing."
RouteGuru's services are free for consumers. The firm earns major revenue from customer-footfall-enhancing services to local businesses and advertisements. In terms of competition, RouteGuru is the only consumer-facing GIS (geographic information system) products start-up, competing with a couple of established GIS product companies.
Piyush Gupta, co-founder, RouteGuru, elaborates further, "Yahoo! India and Mapmyindia are the only two companies that provide driving directions via the Internet. Yahoo! India's business strategy is only a part of our business strategy. Mapmyindia, however, is primarily a GIS data company and has a very different market focus and business strategy. Google Maps still doesn't provide driving directions online or to mobile phones. It only shows the geography and points of interests over the map.
"In fact, we have also mashed up with Google Maps to show the route between two places on top of the maps."