By Timothy Loh
[Above: YFind’s Ting See Ho (left) and Melvin Yuan believe there is huge potential for growth in the burgeoning location-based services market in Singapore]
YFind Technologies has come a long way since it was incorporated by co- founders Melvin Yuan, Ting See Ho, and Han Yang in October 2010, as a company focusing on "indoor location positioning" - a unique position in Asia, according to their research.
Driven by their vision of making Singapore a "location-intelligent city", the company developed the YFind Positioning System (YPS), a patent-pending technology that creates an "indoor GPS" in urban environments. It was envisioned to have applications in various markets, such as retail and logistics.
In the last nine months, YFind has grown to a nine- man team, which includes in-house engineering staff.
Aside from receiving funding from statutory boards like Spring Singapore, they also caught the eye of Walden International and Innosight Ventures.
The two venture capital firms invested $1.5 million into YFind in a recent Series A funding round. In addition, Walden director Yong Soo Ping and Innosight partner, Pete Bonee, will join the YFind board.
"This investment will accelerate our development of innovative business applications, including retail intelligence, location-based services, and advertising," said Mr Ting, who also serves as the company's managing director.
The investment also demonstrates the faith the venture capital firms have in the company and the significance of the technology that YFind provides, Mr Yuan noted.
The government too, it seems, is eager to nurture innovation in this area. Through the Digital Concierge programme, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) recently issued a call for collaboration that supports the adoption of mobile positioning & analytics services, something right up YFind's alley, according to Mr Yuan.
YFind believes there is huge potential for growth in the burgeoning location- based services, advertising, and analytics markets in Singapore.
Mr Yuan cited a report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA) in 2010, which stated that the global market for location-based services is projected to reach US$21.14 billion in annual revenue by 2015.
Another report from Berg Insight in May this year forecasted that the location-based advertising market will be worth US$6.2 billion in 2016 and that the Asia-Pacific will form the largest market. In the near future, YFind will focus on developing their products in the B2B (business-to-business) space. The customers they are currently working with include shopping malls, retailers, museums, libraries, airports, and convention centres.
With retailers and consumers plugged into the YPS, "Our customers have the opportunity to create high levels of personalised experience for their customers," said Mr Yuan.
"We're talking about being able to engage the right people, at the right place, and at the right time. Every engagement with customers by staff on their mobile devices will be highly targeted and highly relevant.
"Imagine, if a company like Starbucks could detect that a regular customer was walking leisurely past a new store early one morning, the company could send a coupon immediately, inviting him in to have his favourite brew," he added.
YFind also hopes that the system will trigger innovation among their customers to use its technology in new and creative ways.
Said Mr Yuan: "That's what we're truly excited about. We spend so much time indoors, but never before was there technology that would unleash so much innovation in location-based customer engagement, behavioural insights, etc. Today, together with our customers, we can make that possible."
This article was first published in The Business Times.