Indoor positioning technology development startup Freegrow was finally selected by TIPS, a technology start-up support program organized by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups, with the recommendation of The Invention Lab. The selection of tips will secure about 500 million won in funds for R&D and commercialization.
Founded in 2019 by CEO Kim Young-sik, Busan start-up company Freegrow develops various technologies related to indoor positioning and provides services using them. Examples include simple indoor map production and management platform “GrowStudio,” ultra-precise indoor positioning equipment solution “Growbrick,” and large complex indoor navigation app (APP) “GrowMaps.”
After attracting 100 million won worth of seed investment from the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund about two and a half years after its establishment, Pre-Series A investment was successfully attracted by The Invention Lab, IGIS Investment Partners, and IPS Ventures. In addition, it has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with COEX, the largest convention operator in Korea, to develop real-time indoor road guidance services, and succeeded in exporting its first overseas to Türkiye.
Through the selection of tips, the company plans to focus on developing an integrated indoor and outdoor location information platform and an automatic update algorithm for indoor positioning and drawing data. “We will provide an indoor location service platform that users can conveniently use around complex indoor buildings,” said Kim Young-sik, CEO of Freegrow. “We will further advance our technology to become a company that creates a global service that connects indoor and outdoor, all spaces and people.”
Q. What is the strategy you pursued to select Tips.
Indoor positioning technology is a technology that has recently emerged with the increase of large complex buildings and the maturity of related technologies, and can solve the ‘Pain Point’ that existing GPS positioning systems cannot be used in indoor and underground spaces. In order to select tips, Frogrow focused on the clear purpose of “solving the problems of existing indoor positioning technology and revitalizing the indoor positioning technology market.”
For this reason, the step-by-step purpose of solving the limitations of indoor positioning technology was embodied as △ development of automatic floor switching algorithm △ development of automatic drawing production and distribution algorithm △ development of data secondary mapping △ integrated internal and external navigation research △ development of integrated internal and external location information API platform.
Q. What is the plan to use the subsidy?
All of the Tips subsidies will be invested in R&D of indoor positioning technology, and we plan to expand our business areas at home and abroad by utilizing the business network of our investment company, The Invention Lab. It will also test local demonstration space support and indoor data collection through COEX’s local network in Vietnam, which is in an MOU relationship with the company.
Q. What made you choose this business as your main business.
CEO Kim Young-sik felt frustrated while looking for a car parked in a large shopping mall and thought it would be nice to have an indoor positioning service such as GPS indoors. It was confirmed that there are related technologies, but no technologies have yet been commercialized, and this was decided as its main business. As a result, the business model was successfully ‘pivoting’ and could be selected for the 2023 Tips.
Q. What are the company’s short-term goals and final vision?
Modern people spend more time in indoor spaces such as homes, offices, schools, and shopping malls. Freegrow’s goal is to make indoor spaces smarter, more convenient, and more enjoyable according to these lifestyle changes.
In the short term, it aims to commercialize a location-based service such as GPS indoors and an indoor location service platform that can easily utilize its technology. In the long run, through the convergence of our service platform and IoT technology, we want to become a global company that connects all indoor smart-related technologies and people to match the company’s slogan of ‘Let’s connect everything’, such as indoor and outdoor navigation, floating population analysis, temperature and humidity management, and integrated building IoT control.
Q. What do you want to say to those who are preparing for start-ups or start-ups in related fields?
Starting a business is never easy. But I think it’s a big challenge. It is very meaningful to realize one’s ideas and contribute to society through implemented technologies. I want to say, “Challenge endlessly and grow freely.”
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