ez enRoute: Sensor Tracking and IoT
Amit Anand got his start in technology after arriving in Canada in 1998. Amit’s initial plan was to study sports medicine but a local entrepreneur suggested tech instead. After a bit of pondering, he decided ‘why not?’ and took the plunge. Amit entered the Information Technology program at NAIT and was soon hooked on problem solving and logic. He fell in love with the idea of having 100 solutions for a single problem and having to identify the most efficient path forward.
After graduating from NAIT, Amit joined the government to get more experience in his chosen field. As Amit worked, he looked for opportunities to branch out, with the aim of starting his own business. The first opportunity that came up was an IT Consulting company that he built on his own. His goal was to earn enough money to bootstrap a tech startup. Keeping track of potential ideas (as the best startups come from life experience, in his opinion), Amit finally found one that fit the bill. Thanks to the success he’d realized with his first business, Amit had enough to get started.
It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention and that’s how it was for Amit. He founded ez enRoute after a frightening experience. One day, Amit’s son took a different route home from school. The youngster got off the school bus to see his aunt but didn’t tell his parents. After some frantic searching, Amit figured out where he went but it was a scary turn of events.
A week later, the same thing happened to a friend. As it turns out this is actually a common problem, and one that we have all seen on the news. It can happen when kids fall asleep during a long bus ride, or decide to visit a friend or a family member. Amit asked himself:
How could this problem be addressed by technology?
How could it be automated? (Trying to put the onus on a kid isn’t likely to help.)
What was the market? And was the market bigger than Canada?
What sort of competition existed?
Amit wanted to disrupt the market, and through the research and development process, he identified that using an Internet of things (IoT) platform with sensors could work. The network of bus operators in Canada is a tight one, and so while ez enRoute was looking to break into the market in Canada, a new opportunity came knocking. Amit joined the Government of Canada’s IoT trade mission to India in 2018. A whole slew of opportunities came his way, but not in the manner he was expecting.
While people were interested in school transportation solutions (it is a global issue), they also wanted to see what the options were available for expanding how sensors and AI could be used. Working with the Smart Cities initiative in India, Amit identified a potential new line of business: Monitoring garbage collection workers. Most garbage collection contracts are outsourced and one municipality was running into a big issue with contractors not fulfilling garbage pick up. Working with the municipality, ez enRoute is currently running a pilot for tracking garbage collectors to ensure they do their full route.
In 2019, Amit’s team was approached by one of the largest global security companies in the world. The company was looking for solutions for tracking seniors, both in terms of location or sensing falls. Amit’s team used AI and sensors to develop an integration between hardware and their platform for better monitoring and tracking. While working on this and their other projects, ez enRoute submitted their IoT platform to NASA iTech in 2020. The same year, they were listed as one of the top 10 companies to pitch their AI Platform at NASA (which will be done once COVID-19 calms down).
The willingness of Amit’s team to pivot and expand their platform has been helpful during the pandemic. With the projects mentioned above, along with Amit’s original idea for school transportation, ez enRoute has been able to expand. But even though ez Enroute has found success, they won’t soon forget how they started. ez enRoute recently signed an alliance partnership with one of the largest school transportation telematics providers in North America strengthening their market outreach.
When it comes to ‘Why Alberta’, Amit has loved our province from the start. Edmontonians have been a great help, providing him with guidance, support, and transparency as he built his business. Alberta has every support to help a startup be successful. Amit loves that he has an opportunity to give back to his community, including teaching at NAIT and serving on its advisory boards. His only wish for our tech community is for businesses and municipalities to become more willing to take a risk on new start ups. Being able to partner with a local company or municipality without too much red tape would make it easier for startups to gain both experience and credibility as they go after wider markets.
Our full interview: