Nilesh Maurya is the Corporate Development Advisor at RS Metrics. He is also associated with a technology venture capitalist-Thynk Ventures, in the US, where he has actively invested in companies engaged in Geospatial, Sustainability, Edtech, Retail Tech, amongst others.
He is a Mentor for Change appointed by Niti Aayog and the Government of India. He is on the mentor panel of Nasscom
Incubator and Ten other Atal Incubators across India and around the globe.
Tell us about Thynk Ventures and how is it promoting startups in the geospatial technology sector?
Thynk Ventures is an early-stage fund based out of New York, and we are practically the first cheque writers for early-stage tech companies that promise to work on breakthrough and disruptive ideas. Our focus lies on companies that work on the application layer of technology, and we love to get operationally involved with the companies and try to scale them up. We boast of our startup and entrepreneurial credentials and provide a unique venture, operational and consultative skillset to early-stage companies, which other investors lack or cannot provide.
How did you develop an interest in geospatial technology?
Having looked at this sector for over half a decade and seeing the industry dynamics change from mostly government projects to more commercial uses cases kind of excited me to look at this space. The technology has so many facets of problem-solving across industries like ESG, retail, metals, materials, insurance, etc is something that keeps you glued to it .
What are the challenges a budding entrepreneur or a startup will face while venturing into the geospatial sector?
The two main challenges that I see for any startup or a budding entrepreneur in geospatial is this technology is fast changing and is immensely technical and requires a lot of understanding to create a true differentiator. Second is the talent pool around geospatial technology. There is still a scarcity of good talent around geospatial technology across the value chains be it hardware, mapping or data science. While the tide is turning as more universities are focusing on developing specialized courses around geospatial technology but still, the demand is far higher than the supply of talent currently is.
What kind of support is this sector getting from the Government and what is the future?
If you ask me about the future it’s immense. I believe there is not a single sector or business that will not find answers to their problems if they go through relevant geospatial data if extracted and analyzed well. If I speak about India, in early May 2021, the Department of Science and Technology ("DST") released a draft National Geospatial Policy ("draft NGP") for comments. The draft NGP aims to boost geospatial entrepreneurship for the socio-economic development of India, promote the use of geospatial products and services, generate useful insights from geospatial data and strengthen India's geospatial infrastructure and capabilities. While this is still early signs but we feel this is encouraging enough for work to start and more support coming towards startups from the government in both financial and non-financial means.
Where does India stand globally when it comes to the geospatial sector?
To answer this question, we will have to break the value chain of geospatial sectors. India has been taking long strides in launching satellites, creating hardware, drones and collecting data and this is also majorly due to the efforts of ISRO and DRDO to an extent. We still have a few companies that are mapping and measuring things well but the major effort and value creation are going to come at the end of the chain that is analyzing and dissecting the data to get it to use and solve problems. There is still some effort required at the end of the chain so that geospatial tech can come in handy to everyone and not just the few who understand this space.