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Interview

In conversation with… Arun Kondpalle, CEO and Founder, Vector GPS

Hey Arun, good evening. Happy to connect with you. Can you please help us know your professional background?

Good evening! I graduated in Chemical Engineering from ICT, Mumbai, and then joined the Maharashtra State Civil Service as an Assistant Commissioner in Transport. After working for 8 years, I decided to quit and went to Indian School of Business, Hyderabad to do MBA in Finance and Marketing. Post ISB, I entered the Telecom industry and worked with Airtel, Reliance, and finally Vodafone before starting my entrepreneurial journey.

We would like to know about your venture ‘Vector GPS’.

Vector GPS was started in Dec 2017. And currently has customers on board from across industries like Logistics, Transportation, FMCG, Infrastructure, Government, Emergency Services, etc. The choice of telematics was natural, as having been in transport and telecom industries, the intersection of which happens to be Telematics.

What was the market problem and business opportunity that you spotted to start your venture ‘Vector GPS’.

GPS adoption in India is still low, about less than 20% of the addressable market. In 2016, the government started issuing regulations mandating it for commercial passenger transport, which was an opportunity I saw coming. If we look at accidents data alone, where there are close to 2 lakh lives lost in India every year, and an estimated economic loss of about US$ 400 billion, which includes the value of lives and livelihood loss due to accidents; there is opportunity to tap GPS tracking which can help saving this, by as much as 90%! Apart from this, there are other opportunities to improve efficiency and productivity for fleets, which can help make logistics better and more efficient.

In what direction do you think the Telematics industry in India is going?

Several measures, both from government and from private players at play here. Regulations like AIS 140 are now being implemented across states and use of AI and connected vehicles technology is being introduced in the marketplace. However, the industry is still cost centric, and solutions at the high end of technology spectrum find less takers, which in times to come will evolve.

How do you think India fares in Logistics 4.0 and Transport 4.0 i.e. application of technology in the field of logistics and transport when compared to countries such as the US, Western Europe or maybe even China?

Multiple developments, coupled with regulations, were implemented in western Europe and the US markets in last decade of the last millennial. Example, regulations on driver duty compliances (ELD) which ensure no working hours beyond specified limits, etc. which are required to make driver safety and their lives better in India too, which I am sure will happen sooner than later here. Apart from the regulatory interventions, lots of sensor integrations coupled with advancement in telematics device technology are in use in western markets. India as always has been leapfrogging these technology changes and will soon do so.

For telematics, the industry that you operate in, how do you view the regulatory environment and employee talent availability – is it a bottleneck or an enabler from Indian context?

Talent is one thing of which there is no dearth of in India. It is a great enabler for India in all spheres, telematics being no exception. Regulatory environment will pick up once we are past this pandemic, as there are some infrastructure implementations which need to be put in place ,like in case of AIS 140, in states, which need to be expedited to be able to drive adoption faster.

In your career span of about 25 years, how do you think that the leadership style has changed with the advancement of technology and the tech-savvy, population joining the workforce?

The ice age (pre internet) managers are now retiring or retired. Technology has also been evolving and is now as human as it can get, hence it is not an impediment anymore, except for the cost of implementation in certain cases. Leadership now is more about combing the human and technology together. Legacy styles of leadership are ineffective now, especially with the Gen Y entering the workforce. Inclusive, empathetic, and knowledge centered leadership is emerging now. However, there are nuances about each industry which require adapting leadership style to its necessities. What works well in core tech may not work as effectively in FMCG Sales, or manufacturing.

In India, we can see now that Gen Y has started to assume leadership positions in businesses and they are the future leaders. What would be your leadership message for them?

Don’t miss the forest for the trees. In today’s world, there is an overload of information, and that is a big danger to stay clear of. The urgency to score a brownie point should not come in the way of holistic understanding of the issues at hand.

What is your message or aspiring entrepreneurs, especially in the technology field?

One of the only two markets with One Billion potential customers, India has space for EVERY entrepreneur! The only thing that is needed is understanding and addressing the issues which customers face, instead of trying to build from one’s fantasies alone!

*All views are that of the interviewee. UdyamGyan doesn’t endorse or promote any claims.

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