Ege Akpinar and Axel Katalan
Ege Akpinar (MRes Computing 2012) and Axel Katalan (MSc Strategic Marketing 2013) are mapping out the future of indoor navigation with their startup company, Pointr.
Nominated as one of the hottest IoT companies in Europe by TechCrunch, Pointr is a rapidly growing technology leader, which helps large venues achieve digital transformation through combining indoor location intelligence with machine learning. Major customers include Harrods, Gatwick Airport, Bosch and Virgin Trains among many others.
We had the pleasure of meeting the duo to hear more about their amazing startup and how Imperial has inspired them as tech entrepreneurs...
Tell us about yourself...
Ege: My background is in computer science with research experience from institutions such as MIT and Harvard Medical School. I have always had a passion for software and technology, so after completing my masters, I worked as a software consultant for large companies like Tesco and Harrods.
Axel: I always knew I wanted to work in tech and, as a student at Imperial, I heard about this amazing place called Level39. As one of the first on the team, I helped build the Level39 community of startups which became Europe's largest technology accelerator for the financial, cyber, retail and smart cities technologies. Following that, I continued to work in business development until eventually, Ege convinced me to work with him on this amazing startup.
Why did you choose Imperial?
Ege: I always wanted to combine computer science with business, so I loved the fact that Imperial had a Business School. There were always so many opportunities to network and learn from real-world professionals. From day one, you were introduced to companies who were recruiting young graduates and were more than happy to give advice and share ideas.
Axel: I chose Imperial because it was one of the only universities at that time to offer a Master's in Strategic Marketing. I also chose the College because of its brand. Being Imperial alumni really helped during the early stages of pitching to tenders because all we had was our background to support us.
Can you explain what Pointr is?
Ege: We position Bluetooth beacons around the building and our software then processes the signals along with a range of other phone sensors to give an accurate position and direction (without requiring internet connection).
How/why did you both come up with the idea?
Axel: We met through a mutual friend. We shared the same passion for tech startups so whilst I was working at Level39 I knew we had to collaborate. I initially wanted Ege to design gaming apps with me however he convinced me to focus on B2B and software development.
Ege: I came up with the software whilst working as a software consultant for Harrods. They wanted to give their customers the opportunity to use GPS indoors - Pointr achieves this.
What would be your advice for current students?
Axel: I have three pieces of advice:
- Network A LOT - be authentic and have meaningful conversations
- Dare to ask - find advisors and mentors
- Be politely persistent - do not give up.