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How This Malaysian Start-up Helps Find Stolen Cars

And encourages drivers to be more responsible

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BY Marishka M. Cabrera - 25 Oct 2016

Malaysian startup cars

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

In mid-2013, Syed Ahmad Fuqaha's friend lost his car in broad daylight in Kuala Lumpur. A week later, his own brother lost his car in Penang.

Fuqaha found out – the hard way – that Malaysia was among the 10 countries where car theft was prevalent.

Fuqaha saw the need to develop a modern GPS tracking solution for the smartphone generation. He felt confident he could do it given his background in web application development. And so in 2014, he and a former colleague, Irwan Ibrahim, turned a grim realization into an opportunity. They established Katsana.


Responding to a need

In Malaysia, one car is stolen every 24 minutes. Less than one out of 10 cars is recovered and returned to owner.

Katsana’s technology allows users to track vehicle location through tracking devices. This improves the chances of recovery in the case of theft. The GPS trackers will not alter existing wiring, and it will continue to work even if the car battery is cut.

Thus far, Katsana has recovered 56 out of 57 stolen cars.


Tracking more than cars' whereabouts

Aside from recovering lost cars, Katsana has cumulatively crunched and analyzed over 140 million kilometers of driving behavior and, for fleet customers, it has reduced risky behavior by almost 62% within 12 months, according to Fuqaha.

For Katsana Track and Katsana Fleet, the company charges an annual or monthly subscription, depending on the size of the fleet. The company has since evolved into a telematics start-up that is involved in usage-based insurance and connected cars, shifting from security to accountability on the part of the drivers.

“We initially focused on vehicle tracking for consumers, allowing drivers to protect and trace the location of their vehicles,” Fuqaha explains. “Subsequently and iteratively we made inroads into fleet management system for enterprises.”

One feature of the fleet management system for SMEs in Malaysia is the ability to monitor vehicle fuel level and its utilization for every trip, thus helping businesses understand fuel usage patterns. Using the system, fleet operators can institute policies to detect refueling or a sudden drop of fuel level in a tank, which could indicate spillage or fuel siphoning. In cases of a fuel policy violation, managers will receive a notification, which will also contain the driver’s information, location, visual map of the occurrences, and the amount in liters of refuel or sudden drop in fuel level.  


Building credibility and capability

It was not easy getting clients to adopt the system. As a start-up, Katsana had to convince large enterprises—most of whom were uncomfortable letting the backbone of their daily logistics operations rest on an unproven solution developed by a new company.

Says Fuqaha, “Hence, we actually never present ourselves as a ‘tech start-up,’ and thus we strike up partnerships with established entities to generate credibility by association.” On their fourth month of operation, they were able to get a “big enterprise on board,” which led others to follow suit.

He reminds entrepreneurs to make their MVP -- minimum viable product – as simple as possible to test the market. “If people are willing to pay for it, make it available commercially and constantly improve based on your customer’s needs.”

He adds that start-ups should not wait for perfection. “As a start-up, you don’t have the time or money to develop a perfect solution.”

At present, Katasana is developing capabilities and insight into understanding driver behavior patterns, scoring, and engagement with drivers.

“We feel that we have become quite good at understanding driver behavior patterns, and, hence, have begun to offer a solution for motor insurers and car manufacturers,” says Fuqaha.

Katsana Insight allows automobile insurers to drastically reduce insurance claims through behavioral data and analysis. Driving data is collected and analyzed in order to give insurers a more precise risk profile, which can enable them to reward good drivers by adjusting their premiums accordingly and “nudge” risky drivers to behave better on the road.  

As for plans, Fuqaha says the company aims to become the largest intelligence company that provides data insights for motor insurers, financiers, and car manufacturers. In fact, the small round that the company has managed to close a few months ago will be used for deployment in motor insurance and connected cars ecosystem.

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