Nastaran Saberi, CTO and co-founder of GeoMate, began her entrepreneurial journey when she recognized inefficiencies in the conventional methods of map making.
"I sensed the gap in the traditional map-making process. It is essential, but it is expensive, complex and time-consuming,” said Saberi, who earned a PhD and MSc in remote sensing and geomatics. “With my background in AI and computer vision, and my co-founder Dr. Amin Gharebaghi’s consulting experience, we came up with the idea of map-making using AI and airborne images to address the need for faster, more efficient maps in the world of mobility."
GeoMate provides maps that are designed to meet the demands of the smart mobility industry, catering to applications such as autonomous vehicles, delivery robots, autonomous shuttles and sidewalk robots.
“Our maps are more sophisticated, with an exceptional level of detail and precision, positioning accuracy within the range of 10 to 20 centimeters,” Saberi said. “While traditional maps suffice for human navigation, robots require a more intricate set of instructions due to their distinct perception capabilities.”
The company creates digitized maps that include information like road edges, lane markers and semantic (or descriptive) attributes. These maps also incorporate topological data regarding lanes and traffic patterns, enabling robots to predict and respond to upcoming traffic conditions.
“This information is essential for safe navigation, control and path planning in the complex urban environment,” Saberi said. “These are necessary requirements for the functioning of our smart mobility solutions."
GeoMate caters to Tier 1 Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) responsible for developing software solutions for a multitude of mobility applications. It also collaborates with the manufacturers of sidewalk robots and the micro-mobility industry to provide mapping features required for safe urban mobility.
“We also ensure the safety of riders on scooters, e-bikes and other micro-mobility devices by supplying comprehensive location information to guarantee a secure journey for both riders and pedestrians,” Saberi said.
Currently, GeoMate is integrating its mapping solutions into real-world deployments and broadening its customer reach.
“We are committed to expanding our reach and having more customers and cities utilize our maps for a variety of mobility applications,” Saberi said. “We want to witness the widespread integration of our maps into different urban environments, contributing to our overarching mission of safe, accessible, and smart mobility for everyone."
GeoMate was launched in 2019 by Saberi, who has a PhD in applied remote sensing from the University of Waterloo, and Gharebaghi, who has a PhD in geographic information systems from Laval University.
The two co-founders have been involved in a number of Communitech-led accelerator programs, including Fierce Founders and the former AVIN Waterloo Ventures.
Saberi’s participation in the Fierce Founders Uplift program last year helped her become a better leader, she said.
“It offered unique insights into challenges, leadership and team dynamics. The program empowered founders to become better leaders, understand their teams, and even grasp employees' feelings.”
Fierce Founders stands out from other support programs because of its flexibility and tailored approach to addressing different challenges.
“As a technical founder, I was eager to understand the sales cycle and customer acquisition,” she said. “Fierce Founders matched us with growth coaches who precisely addressed our needs, making it a truly invaluable experience."
The program helped Saberi implement refined sales processes and employee feedback sessions.
“One of our team members participated in the mentorship series, acquiring valuable experience that was then shared with colleagues involved in the sales process,” she said. “The growth coach offered invaluable insights, which ultimately became the focal point of change within our company. We also followed through on specific program recommendations, establishing key connections that significantly improved our growth.”
GeoMate is focusing on automation, integration with existing solutions and the provision of maps in simulation environments.
“Our maps have received positive feedback from prospects,” Saberi said. “We are going to enhance development and outreach to engage more customers.”
The Communitech Fierce Founders Bootcamp, Uplift and Intensive Track programs are made possible thanks to the support of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Business Development Bank (BDC), Google for Startups, Vidyard, the City of Kitchener and the Ontario government.