4 years ago

Local initiative brings visual recognition technology to country

The inspiring Gaze team
The inspiring Gaze team

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To become an entrepreneur, one does not need be an expert beforehand. Rather, most successful people out there begin their journey very early with whatsoever knowledge they possess and leverage the learnings they keep gaining from first-hand experience.

Motasim Rahman and Taus Noor, two talented Bangladeshi youths, are well on course of a successful career, while setting such examples. From taking initiatives from a very early age to founding Gaze, a Bangladesh based API company-- their story has been a rather inspiring one for the young aspiring entrepreneurs.

Gaze is an API company that provides computer vision technology services. An application programming interface or API is a software intermediary that manages interaction between different software programmes. Gaze provides such API for visual recognition technologies like face recognition, image recognition, optical character recognition, product recognition and so on. So Gaze is a B2B software or service focused to aid the developers of other B2C software or services who satisfy the end users' need. When a B2C software or application needs face recognition for its service, it can simply use Gaze's API to serve the purpose instead of making a visual recognition technology of their own.

Since beginning, Gaze's prime goal has always been to become a global player. Wouldn't it be easy to expand globally if started from Europe or USA? On being asked this question, Motasim, the co-founder and chief operating officer (COO) of Gaze gently laughed and said, "We (he and his friend Taus) are Bangladeshis first!" This pretty much resonates their determination to go big and make giant leap forward holding on to the root compactly. They are well aware of the enormous pride that Gaze could bring for their country if it succeeds in global stage.

Story of Gaze's emergence is pretty much the story of two friends, both of whom had entrepreneurial mind from an early age. Earlier they both founded another anonymous social networking platform Incogmito in 2014 and this marked the first large scale collaboration of the duo. Both Motasim and Taus left Incogmito in 2015. This period was very crucial for Gaze's future rise. While Motasim went to Malaysia to pursue his higher education, Taus worked for some global tech giants including IBM and NVIDIA to gain first-hand knowledge about running a tech company.

They could not work together for some time being engaged in their own lives. Nevertheless, they kept nurturing new ideas and the breakthrough came in 2017 when the duo was trying to make a wearable AI camera. They applied the idea in Y Combinator, a startup accelerator as well, but it didn't work out. This was the point when Gaze knocked their door with immense potential. Interestingly, they coined the name of their company from that wearable camera, as the camera would 'gaze' for the person who wears it. That camera concept is shelved for now as Gaze is on and already gazing at a bright future.

As an AI company, Gaze's prime focus is on visual recognition. The company is working to develop a secure way to recognise 2D images correctly. Gaze can detect face spoof from both 2D and 3D images. Product recognition enables users to find whereabouts of a product by simply searching its image. This can be effective for F-commerce to a great extent. Apart from these, Gaze provides some other services like ID detection, ID OCR, gun detection and license plate detection. Currently, a special project is underway which aims to use face recognition as authentication method for login purpose.

"Gaze is a product by the developers, for the developers," said Motasim when asked about Gaze's unique selling point in the expanding visual recognition market. While most companies focus on making their product cheaper, Gaze focuses on making it handier for the developers. It aims to build a developer-friendly product which developers could adopt within shortest possible time. It is trying to form an ecosystem where developers and communities could hook up easily and feel at home working within it.

Global face recognition market is currently standing at 4 billion USD and expanding every year. However, local market in Bangladesh has not flourished yet. But, there is abundant opportunity here. Gaze being the first of its kind in the country has grabbed the opportunity. Talks about collaboration with successful startups like Chaldal, Pathao and ShopUp are already underway.

Gaze has already gained significant experience working on improved traffic management, defense agency security system and vehicle inflow tracking for large scale factories. It is also working on some open-source projects including a toll monitoring system using automatic license plate recognition and a contactless attendance system aided by face recognition. Only two years after launch in 2018, Gaze has now paid customers like Dhaka Metropolitan Police, fintech firm Nagad and Meghna Group of Industries. The company is also conducting projects in India, Myanmar and Philippines.

Recently, Gaze has been in news for two reasons. One is winning the regional startup competition held in Bangladesh as Gaze will take part in the Startup World Cup to be held in Silicon Valley the next year. Another is about Gaze's US$ 830,000 capital raise from a US based venture-captital focused company Anchorless Bangladesh.

After the angel investment made by Mohammad Maaz, this is the first big investment for this ascending company. Lion's share of the investment will be spent in talent i.e. salary of the highly qualified engineers. Gaze is determined to bring veteran and seasoned people on board who have the caliber to take the company forward bolstered by their experience.

Another big sector of investment is R&D (Research and Development). As of now, this sector is not a headache for the company as it has the support of Microsoft and Google Cloud.

"Whatever your background maybe, technology has given you the power to do things that might have an impact throughout the world, be it small or big," said Motasim about his and Taus's prime inspiration behind exploring the world of startups. They believed if people like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos can come this far from no notable background, why not they? Their passion for tech and coding tested by their early success from small scale startups, exhorted them to take the risk which is definitely paying back.

The writer is currently doing his MSS in Journalism at University of Dhaka. He can be reached at [email protected]

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