Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.
Following Melbourne’s recent crowning as Australia’s most innovative city, we speak to one of the many local startups who, collectively, helped our city make this achievement. Introducing Envision Systems, a data company making the use of transport smarter.
Imagine not having to worry about finding a car park in the city or being able to avoid an overcrowded train or even knowing how congested the freeway is going to be before a commute.
Not only would this save a lot of time, stress and money, it might also help us understand human patterns and behaviours when it comes to using mass transport networks and roadways.
With this information we could make these systems more efficient and user friendly, to the benefit of everyone. Fortunately, it’s 2019 and this is what Kanav Batra and his team at Melbourne-based Envision Systems are already doing.
“Envision’s aim is to solve the issues of traffic by using data to provide better customer outcomes,” said Kanav. Put simply, this means using data to update people on traffic issues in real-time, so they can make better decisions about how they plan their trips and their days.
For Kanav, it all started at university where he was becoming increasingly frustrated by not being able to find a car park. “I was paying about $500 a year for a park and everyday I’d go in and still wouldn’t be able to find a spot,” said Kanav. Realising this was an issue nobody else was doing anything about, Kanav developed a prototype to map out the parking at the university to see where the available spots were.
Initially he tried to sell the idea to the university and councils around the city. Each was interested because they didn’t have the data to address their own problems with parking and congestion, but there were issues and starting out wasn’t straightforward.
“In the beginning it was really difficult, we’d go door-knocking to councils and they’d be interested, but we kept getting directed towards the tender processes – and at that stage we weren’t ready for that” says Kanav.
“Doing things this way was draining a lot of our time and resources, not to mention we didn’t have all the right knowledge or insurance for these processes.”
Enter LaunchVic, the Victorian Government’s startup entity and champion for everything digital tech and innovation in Victoria.
LaunchVic connected Kanav and his team with CivVic Labs, a program where government works with startups to solve public sector challenges. Envision Systems’ client during their time with CivVic Labs was the Department of Transport, a perfect fit for their technology.
“LaunchVic and CivVic Labs facilitated the opportunity for us to work with government and transformed us from a startup into a business,” said Kanav. “Working with LaunchVic has been amazing, it’s been the best thing for us, it’s the very reason we exist as a company”.
Through CivVic Labs, Kanav and his team were able to learn more about government and tender processes, as well as gain valuable feedback and constructive criticism to help them grow.
“Working with the government in this way gave us the context about what we could actually deliver, and had it not been for LaunchVic, we wouldn’t have been able to do this and get where we are today.”
Kanav also attributes some of Envision’s success to date to Melbourne’s thriving startup ecosystem and welcoming culture of innovation, especially since being named Australia’s most innovative city.
“Melbourne has such a supportive ecosystem, everyone is really friendly, and everyone has spoken to us very openly,” said Kanav.
“The talent and engineering mindset here in Melbourne is unparalleled and having access to this talent here (Melbourne) gives us the opportunity to innovate more quickly without having to rely on outsourced developers”.
Being both a hardware and software developer Envision also manufactures products in Melbourne because it’s cost-effective and the result is high-quality.
“In Melbourne we can be something other than a software developer, we can make things here, of a high-standard and cost-effective without having to worry about challenges that come with outsourcing.”
Envision Systems has a lot to look forward to. The company is focused on the transport industry where it has just finished controlled trials and will move into real-world in the coming months.
As it develops, Envision’s technology has the ability to be applied to a huge range of areas including making our cities smarter, simplifying our infrastructure and planning for better airports, retail businesses and commercial developments.
The future is bright for this fast-growing startup and as they move into real-world trials designed to make our lives simpler and less stressful, the future is bright for us all too.
To learn more about Victoria's startup ecosystem, visit LaunchVic.