By Ria Gupta
The seeds of Shivangi Jain’s journey as a technology entrepreneur were sown on an otherwise ordinary afternoon in October 2017, when a Bhopal school bus broke down while on its round to drop kids home. Phone lines rang busy as anxious families tried to contact the school to find out the location of their kids, but school authorities had no answers to give them. There was no way of knowing where the vehicle was.
Among the several troubled parents were Shivangi’s aunt and uncle. By an opportune play of events, she had been home that day to witness the incident, which led her to tap her entrepreneurial instincts for a solution. “Parents should be able to know where their children are upon leaving school,” the automotive design engineer thought to herself.
Shivangi, an alumnus of University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES), Dehradun, quit her job to develop a software device that could solve an obvious problem in daily living. Five months later TrackAlways was born, a startup that provides technology-based products offering various tracking and anti-theft solutions.
The tracking software is not just a business idea, but an initiative that this 29-year-old entrepreneur holds extremely dear to her heart.
Being a woman in a man’s world, the double struggles she has faced have persisted since her college days. “I was one of only five girls in a batch of 80 engineers,” she says. Her teachers and peers would often insinuate that she may not be able to make it through without help.
But as she puts it, “Girls like cars too.” Completing her education, Shivangi went on to work with top-tier companies, including Larsen & Toubro, before birthing TrackAlways. For her, challenges arising from lack of support or infrastructure hardly mattered.
Having been inspired by the need to make a difference, she pooled in every nickel and dime in her name to bootstrap her business model. “My father loaned me the remaining money, which I made sure to amortise with regular interest over time,” she says.
During this time, she worked to build the software herself and finalise its specifics through trial and error.
She relates that even while running a full-fledged company, she was often faced with questions about who her partner was. “People found it hard to believe that a woman could manage alone in the technology industry,” she shares.
However, her perseverance took the startup to new heights in a short period of time. Last year, Shivangi was awarded the Nari Shakti Award on International Women’s Day for her contributions to entrepreneurship.
Shivangi’s product is inspired by GPS devices offered by brands like Teltonika and Concox, both of which provide security solutions across the world.
The business was set up for the purpose of serving educational institutions, but she chose to go beyond the obvious. Entering the market showed her the various applications it could help people with.
“Today we have over 200 devices that run on a common software called TrackAlways. The most basic model offers simple tracking facilities for cars and other vehicles. With others, you can also check if all your doors are locked and air conditioning is off. A device with anti-theft features provides an engine cut-off system at the click of a button,” she explains.
On the other end of the spectrum lie complex problems made easy through simple solutions. “We also provide our devices to harvesters who can install it on their tractors to find out how much area of their land has been harvested,” she says.
Recently, the startup was also contacted by Sarafa Bazaar, a jewellery market in Indore. One of the devices can fit into the briefcase of jewellery retailers on the go so that their possessions can be tracked in case of a robbery en route.
The product is available through two Google PlayStore apps – TrackAlways Plus and TrackAlways Pro – and has garnered a fleet of almost 1,000 vehicles for the versatility it offers. Services run on a subscription model wherein the users can renew their registration at half the cost on a recurring basis.
The pandemic brought its own challenges to this gritty entrepreneur. Most operations had to be halted as subscriptions started thinning. But even that did not deter her spirit. Since 2020, her team has pivoted towards alternate streams of income through government projects.
The startup falls under B-Nest Bhopal Incubation Center initiated by Bhopal Smart City Development Corporation. The founder says, “During the second wave I took on the responsibility of providing a GPS for all oxygen tankers of Madhya Pradesh. We were in-charge of tracking every cylinder that was moving in and out of the state on behalf of the MP Health Department.”
She says with satisfaction that the project helped fulfill a social duty on her part, which she finds to be of more importance than any monetary gains.
Going further, Shivangi reveals that an NGO called SheBe Foundation under her name is also on the cards to support more women in the country in achieving their dreams.