Vaibhav Kaushik describes himself as a BITSian who loves to solve real-world problems using deep learning and who is always up for a game of chess, preferably over a chessboard. His chessboard skills would be needed if he wants to succeed with his venture Nawgati—the aim of which is complex, i.e. decongesting fuel stations across India.
“Using deep learning solutions and modern technology, however, decongesting fuel stations isn’t as complex as it seems,” Kaushik told FE. He is a fresh graduate from BITS Pilani, an engineering college in Rajasthan, having completed his five-year course just last year (2016-21). His venture, Nawgati, got incorporated and incubated on the campus, in 2019.
What does Nawgati do?
Nawgati has developed congestion monitoring and routing systems for fuel stations. These systems, he said, along with Nawgati’s Queue Management System (QMS), help provide operational oversight over assets, monitor congestion in real-time, and route customers to less crowded stations in an area, while optimising for transit, wait and serve time.
“Our solution, Aaveg, is operational in the Delhi region with Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL). We are undertaking pilots with Mahanagar Gas and Indian Oil,” Kaushik said. “Pilots are also being discussed with Sabarmati Gas, Gujarat Gas, Adani Total Gas, Think Gas, Torrent Gas, and AG&P.”
How Kaushik got the idea
In 2018-19, he was doing internship in Noida and often took cabs and sparked conversations with the driver. Most drivers told him they have to wait at CNG stations for over half an hour every day, which reduced their running time and, therefore, earnings. “I thought why isn’t there a solution that directs cab drivers to a nearby CNG station that has relatively lesser number of cars waiting to fuel up,” he said. “That’s how the idea was born.”
Support from BITS Pilani
The entrepreneurial ecosystem at BITS Pilani helped the start-up in initial stages. As soon as he and his co-founders (Aalaap Nair from BITS Pilani and Aryan Sisodia from VIT Chennai) incubated the start-up, it received the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s TIDE 2.0 grant (worth Rs 7 lakh).
Using that grant, Nawgati built a congestion management and compliance monitoring dashboard, and did a pilot with IGL. All along, Nawgati received support from PIEDS (Pilani Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development Society). “The entrepreneurial ecosystem at BITS Pilani helped; we also got office space in BITS Pilani and access to mentors, including the alumni,” Kaushik said.
What if the start-up didn’t work?
“At BITS Pilani, placement isn’t a concern,” he said. “I had an offer from PayPal. My co-founders had cushy offers of more than Rs 30-40 lakh per annum. But we realised that the amount of impact we can create through a start-up, we wouldn’t have accomplished in a corporate job.”
How Nawgati solution works
It’s a plug-and-play solution. “We deploy edge devices (hardware that controls data flow at the boundary between two networks) at fuel stations, and get access to CCTV footage in real-time and dispensing infrastructure,” he said. “We have told as many as 17 oil & gas companies that the radio frequency identification (RFID) solution, which has been tried by some, isn’t scalable, but ours is, and have received positive feedback from them.”
Nawgati’s consumer facing solution will be rolled out soon (in the form of a free mobile app that drivers will need to download).
Fuel companies, using Nawgati’s data, will get operational oversight—what is the demography of vehicles fuelling at their stations, waiting time, serve time, where exactly are the inefficiencies, and so on. That data can be monetised and contribute towards Nawgati’s revenues.
“We foresee 15,000 fuelling outlets on our platform within two years,” he said. “By fuelling outlets we don’t mean only CNG or petrol pumps. Our solution is fuel-agnostic. We will include electric vehicles charging stations also under this.”
There aren’t many companies that are offering a similar solution, and that gives Kaushik the confidence that he and his co-founders can take Nawgati global. “All the world’s a stage,” he said.