In an interview with Insights Success, Robert Sugar, the Founder of Urban Hawk Limited, shares his insights on how the company is enabling data to create the new world of business opportunities.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
What led to an inception of Urban Hawk Limited?
We have always been innovators in IT. People that create solutions that are a bit ahead of their time. That’s how we stand out, will, and always have been.
At first we looked at the emerging commercial space sector, and quickly realised that our possible place is in downstream, where the data is being collected and used. Data that is spatial, 3D, real time, where we are the strongest. From satellite data we jumped into other aerial and land sensor data, and from there into street level applications to see how big difference it can make. We realised that if we united all data, and we shared it, and we applied it in market segments for end users we would get a proper smart city. That was the point where we felt it was our time to march in. So we established our baby and called it Urban Hawk.
Could you throw some light on your mission and vision statement?
Our ultimate service once fully operational: you pinpoint any spot on the planet and we will bring up live and historical data about infrastructure, dynamics, which can be further simulated/extrapolated to the future thereby predicting what happens next.
Global situational awareness packed into digital twins of our material environment.
Describe your company and its cutting-edge data solutions which address all the needs of your customers.
We collect location relevant data, lots of data. Real-time and historical. We consolidate the mix. We analyse the data and predict from it. We visualise and present the findings. Then we use the findings to boost situation awareness, to cut from turnaround time, reduce risk, improve efficiency and planning and decision making in general.
We have commercial and public sector customers in transport, telecom, maritime, logistics, and insurance. And keeps growing. Yes, despite being a startup we already operate across market segments. The nature of what we do makes it straight forward and easy. Otherwise this wouldn’t be a recommended route for most startups.
How does your services differ from the other companies’ offerings?
We don’t just create next gen software that tackles the data challenge. We foresee commercial routes in early markets. We operate in Smart Cities. Smart Cities that are a disruptive but very early days massive market segment, that’s coming as most decisions, planning, operations will be data driven in future around the globe. Inevitable evolution to minimise the guesswork and build on evidence instead.
On top that we aren’t just doing this at project basis, like many others, but ahead of the curve, already developing our productised platform that will provide us and our end users robust scalability for the future.
Describe in detail about the work culture and the values that drive your company.
Whenever we bounce back, we put emotions aside and try to understand what happened, so that we can get it right the next time. We keep trying until it works.
Sometimes we intentionally crash presentations (sounds funny but makes a lot of sense, see further) where we feel we have too many uncertain areas and will likely fail in the first round anyway. So we rather pack enough in there that we can see the reaction of the listeners on each problematic part, fail as planned, pull back, narrow down, crystallise better based on reaction, and go again asap.
We are big sci-fi fans, all of us, but we never mix fiction and reality. We are cautious futurists, if that makes any sense.
What technologies are you leveraging to make your solutions resourceful?
HPC (high performance computing) on GPU (massive parallel processors originally designed for the games industry) clusters due to the huge amount of data that we need to process quasi real-time. We work with various depth sensing cameras, drones, lidar, and satellite imagery. We also train AI (artificial intelligence) to extract details from the imagery we capture. For instance to automatically classify buildings, vehicles, vegetation in a video. We code in OpenCL, C++ at the back end. Performance is key in our architectures therefore we don’t use higher level languages where we wouldn’t have control over memory use, etc. We collaborate with 5G infrastructure builders to make the data flow between current and future locations.
What are your company’s future aspirations? What strategies are you undertaking to achieve those goals?
We bootstrapped. Most people are shocked to hear that we haven’t yet raised investment. Well, we didn’t need to as we had succeeded to win substantial grants and contracts. The upside is that we kept the equity with us without distraction. We may want to go into an investment round once our product platform will be ready for market scale up.
About the Leader
Robert Sugar is a born innovator (Master in Physics; always been an entrepreneur since he graduated from University – has never had a casual job, or been an employee, just employer) with skills and experience both in tech and business. Crazy enough to jump into uncharted waters spiced up with futurism, but all this with cautious planning and risk balancing. He likes to study the awareness, the reasons, the thought processes and dynamics of the actors. This combination greatly helps to crack yet shaping markets, establish solid foundations, and scale from there.
If get this right the sky is our only limit. Work in progress with great results so far.