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Startup Circle: How Staqu strives to utilize technology in solving real-world problems

Atul Rai, CEO and co-founder of Staqu, has shared his views on how Staqu stands as a reliable solution for futuristic video monitoring and business growth.

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Manisha Sharma
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Atul Rai

Staqu is an Audio-Video Analytics and Management (A-VA-VMS) Company founded by Atul Rai, Anurag Saini, and Pankaj Sharma. As a Gurgaon-based Artificial Intelligence start-up, Staqu strives to utilize technology in solving real-world problems. Founded in 2015, the company provides state-of-the-art image recognition, language-independent proprietary speaker identification, and text processing, including sentiment analysis, text classification, and summarization. Staqu was handpicked by the British High Commission as the Best AI Start-up in the country. Furthermore, triumphing in IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program, Staqu has successfully raised investment from Indian Angel Network.

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Atul Rai is the CEO and co-founder of Staqu, which is an AI startup leading the security and enterprise big data analytics domains through its proprietary video analytics, big data, and auditing tools that employ advanced deep learning research and cutting-edge engineering. Atul’s responsibility as the founder and CEO is to lead the research area in the company, given his background is in AI. He is also in charge of brand development and AI growth. As the brand's CEO, he envisions integrating all cameras with JARVIS technology in order to make cameras as intelligent as humans.

Speaking to CIOL, Atul Rai is the CEO and co-founder of Staqu, has shared his views on how Staqu stands as a reliable solution for futuristic video monitoring and business growth. He talked about his startup journey and also, and he speaks about the growth plans he has for Staqu.

Tell us about Staqu and your offerings. Tell us about the team.

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We founded Staqu in 2015, which technically is an AI startup leading the security and enterprise big data analytics domains through our proprietary video analytics, big data and auditing tools that employ advanced deep learning research and cutting-edge engineering. As the human brain is incapable of analysing a large number of feeds streaming from CCTV cameras, our notable product JAARVIS automates real-time facial recognition, vehicle detection, people counting, and detection of intrusion, fire or violence. Currently, we house the manpower of 60 plus across multiple departments.

With what mission and objectives, was the company set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company.

I (Atul), Anurag and Pankaj met at our last start-up. We were working collaboratively on one of the projects. I was in research, Anurag was in engineering and Pankaj was in the cloud department. Greatly, we realised that we all complimented each other and that’s why we decided to incept a dedicated AI company that solves the problem of automation in the audio-video data pointers. Since the launch of our product offerings, we have come a long way. In direct lines, we have over 100 companies working with us. Some of the top prominent brands working with us include Raymond, Cafe Coffee Day, Starbucks, Chaayos, Crocs, GMR, JK Cement, Agrocel and others. Additionally, we also have nine state police forces collaborating with us for their requirement of safety and security monitoring, as well as facial recognition for criminals.

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Shed some light on how your company is contributing to the IoT/AI/Big Data Analytics /Cloud Computing industry of the nation and how the company is benefiting the clients.

Our contribution to these sectors are that we are providing high-quality solutions which are driving the market trends. This first is of course the research side where we intend to further develop JARVIS to make it more interactive. Secondly, we are adding 85+ analytics features on the platform for multiple needs of our clients. In India where technical infrastructure is still evolving, we have less than 5-megapixel cameras everywhere. As a result, we are developing features to address low-resolution video feeds, multi-camera trafficking, and other issues. We anticipate that these types of features will be integrated into JARVIS within the next three months. Lastly, we are also working on further hybridising the models so that audio-video analytics can happen in a single pass with a single model rather than two models in an unassembled way.

How is Staqu tapping the latest market trends for growth?

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When it comes to enabling safety and data analytics through seamless technology, that market is huge considering that we now have more cameras than the human population on earth. Across the globe, organisations, institutions, and governments are focusing on surveillance and the recent COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has further fueled the growth and adoption of audio and video analytics software. This is anticipated to spur the demand for audio and video analytics software for public safety among government and private agencies, and we intend to capitalise on the various customer demands by adding more features to our product offerings.

Kindly share your point of view on the current scenario of Big Data Analytics and its future.

Big Data Analytics is a rapidly growing field globally, and it will continue to grow in the coming years as the amount of data increases exponentially year after year. As a result, we have to constantly update our tools to engage with big data. At the same time, the distinguishing feature of this field is that it applies to every industry in the world and aids in their transformation. It’s also a great industry for young aspirants to enter because there’s a lot of unstructured data, which means there are a lot of interesting opportunities to build a career.

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What is your biggest USP that differentiates the company from competitors?

When it comes to enabling safety and data analytics through seamless technology, we are far ahead of any competitor in the market. The first advantage is that this platform is plug-and-play, which means that if you have a camera, you don’t need to install any hardware; all you need is a stable internet connection. Second, we are not only analysing the video data, but we are also analysing the audio data from the CCTV. That means that both audio and video data (bimodal data) will be used to analyse scenes, leaving no gaps. Lastly, the majority of companies in this field only provide video analytics. In our case, we also offer video management software that allows you to aggregate all of the feeds from different locations and view them all in real-time while receiving real-time alerts. So another edge that we have is while our competitors show post-event analysis or day-by-day reporting we on the other hand enable real-time feeds. In addition, we target not only CCTV cameras but also drones, and even the mobile stream can be analysed on the Jarvis platform.

Tell us about some of the major challenges the company has faced till now.

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As such, we are not currently confronted with any challenges. However, previously, the foremost challenge was dealing with marketing AI, which was a novel concept in 2015. Back then, AI was mostly understood in terms of robots capable of performing human tasks, but as the market matured and the right investors came on board, the roadblock was gradually overcome. Covid-19 also posed a significant revenue generation challenge for us but we have a strong team that never gives up. We view obstacles as opportunities for larger growth.

What are your company’s priorities for 2023?

Currently, our geographical presence is in India and focused on Asian markets. However, we are diligently looking forward to expanding our footprints in the USA and UK as they offer a wide range of opportunities in terms of business operation and growth.

Funding

In the first year, Staqu was bootstrapped and all the Co-founders invested out of their savings to run the company for one year. We raised around INR 3.5 Cr from Indian Network in 2015 and 2016 and post that we were running the company without raising any funds. So we were operationally profitable for the last four years and this year we raised INR11 Cr from SIS and Mount Woody Venture.