Gecko Systems is a Finnish technology company that has taken an out-of-the box approach to location based services and markets. Instead of thinking of the obvious (which by Nordic standards usually means Western markets, USA, etc.), they have turned east towards Russia and their solutions, namely Glonass, a competitor to the GPS (Global Positioning System).
I talked to Ilkka Nojonen the founder and CEO, about the reasons that made them decide on the choice of market. “First of all there are already a lot of competitors on GPS market. Secondly, the deployment rate of GLONASS equipment on our target market Russia is very low.”
Indeed, GPS based vehicle trackers are installation base in the US is over 5 million units, while in Europe it is around 3,5 million. However, according to Nojonen in Russia there are only around 100 000 Glonass units.
Another reason is based on the looming change in legislation. While both technologies, GPS and Glonass are global, Russians will be imposing a 25% import tax on GPS products in the future. Gecko Systems’ products can be imported free of this tax as they are based on the native technology.
Gecko Systems does not only focus in providing simple car navigation equipment. Actually, that’s only one end result of their technology. The company provides Multi-GNSS (GPS and Glonass combined) building blocks for service providers and integrators. When the technologies are used together, reliability and accuracy is greatly increased Nojonen states.
Nojonen and his company is working together with the VTT (Technical Research Center of Finland) in also providing technologies for the Harmonised eCall European Pilot also known as Heero.
The system would provide each car with a location chip that would help locate the car in case of emergencies and also alert the officials to send help to the venue of accident.
While this is still all speculation, it does make the future attractive for Gecko Systems. The company is clearly seeking a blue ocean strategy where technology providers are almost non-existent, but the use case has been proven in competing technologies.
The company has closed its A-round and founded a subsidiary in St. Petersburg where it has 2 employees. In Finland Gecko Systems employs 6 people.