The Geospatial Index
Geospatial Index Podcast

Spatial computing for building navigation.




Basically with the release of the first iPhone in 2007 we have solved outdoor navigation. It’s a pretty inspiring keynote, so I’ll put Jobs’ full talk here. If it doesn’t start there automatically, skip to the 46 minute mark:

As an aside, what this actually has got me thinking is whether I should put Apple in The Geospatial Index from the date of this keynote, Jan 9th 2007, because Jobs said the iPhone had the best version of Google Maps at the time. I have to agree. But I’m still on the fence. Applying that as a rule would mean every other smartphone maker would go in the index too just for putting a 3rd party map app on their device. So it stays out from that particular date for now. It only enters the Index when they released their own map app in 2012… back to the story.

So humans have solved outdoor positioning and navigation. We can navigate anywhere on earth with these little handheld Skinner Boxes known as ‘smart phones’. What hasn’t happened yet is a solution for navigating inside every building on earth. Why is it important to navigate inside buildings? Well, some can be labyrinthine. Consider your average major city hospital or airport.

Let’s add another layer. Imagine there’s an emergency in one of these buildings and you need to get out quickly or find someone. This happened with the Grenfell Tower fire in the UK June 14, 2017:

Progression of the fire around Grenfell Tower

Someone who describes this as a life changing event, when he was 14 years old, is a Briton named Baran Korkmaz. As a result, he started an augmented reality indoor navigation prototype right away in Summer 2017:

He got in the news for it and co-founded a company that turned into ARway. They did well enough for him to turn down £1,000,000 for it at 16 years of age:

Finally, at 18, Nextech acquired the company:

Quoting page 8 of the prospectus for the ARway IPO:

Mr. Korkmaz joined Nextech as Product Manager, AR, and Mr. Sawlani joined as Software Engineer, AR

You might be curious how much they eventually settled for after all that noise about turning down £1M. This announcement says it was for $CAD1M in an all Nextech stock transaction on Aug 10 2021! You may have observed that Baran’s video about turning down £1M was 8 months earlier Nov 19 2020… So given it was in dollars rather than pounds it looks like they got less money. I looked for further details in the Canadian Stock Exchange IPO prospectus for when Nextech spun ARway out as an independent company. On page 9 of the prospectus it says the co-founders got 250k shares each:

Since ARway listed for $CAD0.63, this equates to $CA157,500 each. As of this writing on April 2nd 2023, shares are worth 1.03, so these shares presently represent ~$CAD250K. And their original $CAD1M of Nextech stock to sell the company? Well, Nextech shares closed the day of 10th August 2021, when the deal was announced, at 2.45, equating to 408,163 shares. Today, Nextech is 0.69 per share. Their Nextech shares, received in exchange for ARway, are therefore now only worth $CAD281,632.

All of these numbers are probably only directionally right. But you get the picture.

So far, so good.

What’s next? Getting to cashflow positive. As a result of the money raised in the IPO, they have a $CAD1.65M runway to work through their roadmap to get to profitability. In the interview shown above that I conducted with Evan Gappelberg, CEO of both Nextech and ARway, he said that since starting in January this year, ARway has attracted 20 companies who are testing the software. He said he expects ARway to be cashflow positive if those companies convert their software trials to paid subscriptions.

The next logical step in due diligence then is to look at the deals they have. A place to start is the most recent deal announcement which lists these companies, and I quote:

Vellore Institute of Technology - Education / using campus wayfinding in a university in India

Wicked Interactive Storytelling – Tourism / using AR contextual content for engaging tourists on holiday sites

Intron – Based in MENA. Using ARway in Universities for Wayfinding and Guided tours

DQ Turkey - Based in MENA. Using ARway in Airports & Universities for Wayfinding and Guided tours

LeLaboDigital - SDK Partner - Is a software development agency in Lebanon who are looking to add AR wayfinding to their service offerings

What should happen next then in looking at this company is to investigate these software trials. I encourage contacting the above companies, and all of the others they have announced trials with, to see if they are aware of ARway and whether they like it.

Without performing this aspect of due diligence, I cannot comment any further on, nor recommend, this business.

In terms of the overall story, it is an inspiring one for the co-founders Baran Korkmaz and Nikhil Sawlani. I hope through their efforts we can finally say in another 10 years that we have solved both indoor and outdoor wayfinding.




The Geospatial Index
Geospatial Index Podcast
Obsessed with compounding via publicly listed geospatial equities.