Through its precision map-based tracking and roll-call capabilities, AppAlert helps parents and the school management to know the precise location of their children when they are on the bus
While working from home one afternoon, software engineer Ashuvinder Ahuja noticed his wife waiting for their kids at the school bus stop. It was early May and the weather was extremely hot, and she had to wait for over 15 minutes under the scorching sun for the bus to arrive. He thought had there been a proper school bus tracking system, this long waiting could have been avoided.
“As I delved into the current (school bus tracking) offerings available in the market, I quickly realised this industry was being served by legacy B2B vendors — providing, installing and hosting GPS solutions. Parents were getting notified by SMS, which do not reflect the real-time traffic, nor were they getting roll call confirmations. Quite simply, they are not accurate,” Ahuja said.
This very thought got the best out of Ahuja and eventually led him to launch AppAlert — a mobile based real-time school bus tracking system.
“By going completely mobile and cloud, we have fundamentally changed the entire paradigm — no more installation, no more hosting and maintenance. All the schools require a mobile device and everyone now is getting an Uber-like experience,” explains Ahuja.
Launched in March 2016, AppAlert is a cloud- and mobile-based real-time school bus tracking system. It is a single mobile device solution that — through precision map-based tracking along with comprehensive roll-call capabilities (Radio-Frequency Identification or RFID not required)— helps parents as well as the school management to know the precise location of their children when they are on the school bus.
“AppAlert is the industry-first all mobile cloud logistics solution offering comprehensive real-time monitoring. Since ours is a cloud platform, subscriptions from parent’s drive revenue. The schools get the entire infrastructure for free,” adds Ahuja, who has over two decades’ experience in technology and software.
Choose your on wait time
The app has a one-step registration process, following which parents have to give their preference of how many minutes before they should be notified for pick-up and drop. The app provides real-time location of the bus on the map and ETA. The app has the ability to monitor more than one child and/or school.
AppAlert sends alerts to parents as to when the bus is expected at the stop and also when the bus reaches the school. The parents also get alerts if their child is absent during pickup in the morning and/or on-boarding in the afternoon.
“Any school personnel on the bus can easily operate the app. It also has a comprehensive and documented roll-calls during pick-up and drop-off. Parents get alerts via SMS, email as well as in-app. They can also monitor speed in real time, capture any deviation from the set route, miles driven and fuel consumption, as well as historical trends,” Ahuja says.
As of last month, the startup has kicked off trials at more than 20 schools in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai encompassing 15,000 children, says Ahuja. “The goal is to capture more than 1,000 schools in India within the next 24 months equating to almost half a million students. Simultaneous push is being planned for Singapore, Australia, the US, Indonesia and the UAE.”
In his opinion, AppAlert is designed to solve real world challenges that are both practical and emotional. With safety and security remaining top priorities of schools, AppAlert provides exact information to school authorities and parents. In the event of an accident or breakdown, help can reach the school bus with immediacy. “This not only gives peace of mind to parents but also to school administrators because of number of reduced phone calls from worried parents.”
In March this year, AppAlert raised US$900,000 in seed funding, led by US-based serial investor Narinder Singh. The funding is being deployed to build and enhance the core application and expand its service offerings in markets of Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia.
There’s no substitute for common sense
These are his advices to budding entrepreneurs:
- Plan as thoroughly as you can but it is all about execution. Be it technology, go-to-market strategy, hiring or fund raising, the bottom-line is how well you execute your plans.
- More importantly how quickly do you learn from the market and modify or pivot. At the same time, it is important to have faith in your strategy so the challenge is to temper your desire to instinctively change. It is inevitable that your product/idea will evolve, when and how is the difference between success and failure.
- One key attribute I see in most successful entrepreneurs is perseverance and hard work, frankly there is no substitute.
- Lastly use common sense. Far too often we build models that are quite sophisticated and sometimes we drink our own ‘kool-aid’ by not paying heed to ground reality. Rarely have I seen anyone go wrong with using dollops of common sense supplemented by hard work.
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