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50 Fastest Growing Companies Of The Year 2019

Connected-Car Platform: Telenav, a Provider of Location-Based Products and Services, Desires to Innovate and Build Smarter and Safer Products that Will Benefit Both OEMS and Drivers


“We are transforming from a navigation-oriented company into one providing connected-car platform and location-based services for the connected-car industry.”

After Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Cars is the most used buzzword in the industry. From automobile manufacturers to software vendors to telecom operators to consumer electronics companies, everyone is excited about the connected-vehicle phenomenon.

Connected-vehicle technology aims to tackle some of the biggest challenges in the areas of safety, mobility, and environment affecting the transportation industry.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Telenav®.

Telenav provides location-based products and services for connected cars and advertising in the United States and internationally. The company operates through three segments: Automotive, Advertising, and Mobile Navigation. It offers automotive navigation services, including on-board solutions, which consist of software, map, and points of interest data loaded in vehicles that provide voice-guided turn by turn navigation displayed on the vehicle screen as well as brought-in navigation services. The company also provides location-based advertising services, and voice-guided, real-time, turn-by-turn, and mobile navigation services under various brand names, including Telenav GPS Scout GPS Navigation as well as under wireless carrier brands. Its customers include wireless carriers, automobile manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers, tier one suppliers, advertisers, advertising agencies, and end users.

Telenav was incorporated in 1999 and is headquartered in Santa Clara, California. It has additional offices located in: Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Detroit, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Xi’an, China; Shanghai, China; Tokyo, Japan; Berlin, Germany; and Seoul, Republic of Korea.

HP Jin, Telenav Co-founder/President/CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up?

Telenav was established to provide GPS-based navigation software to smart mobile devices with a mission to make the lives of people on-the-go less stressful, more productive, and more fun.

Telenav was the first company in the world to launch GPS navigation services for mobile phones. In 2011, Telenav began working with automotive OEMs to provide connected location-based services, especially navigation services. Now, there are more than twenty-million vehicles around the world equipped with our navigation systems, over ten million of which are connected cars. Telenav was the first location-based services company in the United States to become a public company, when our shares began trading on the NASDAQ Global Market in May 2010. Currently, Telenav has subsidiaries in the US, China, and Europe.

Q. Tell us about your first product that was launched.

In December 2000, Telenav’s first product, myPNA (My Personal Navigation Assistant), a WAP-based service on smart phones, was launched through Sprint. The product allowed users to retrieve directions between two addresses and search for local Points-Of-Interest (POIs).

Q. If you had to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?

Our people: We have a talented, diverse team of automotive, mobile, AI, and cloud experts from major innovation hubs around the globe.

Our partners: We are very well-connected with world-class partners, such as Ford, GM, Opel, FCA, Toyota, and Daimler.

Our go-for-it attitude: We embrace innovative new ideas, challenge the status quo, and bring a Silicon Valley mind set to help deliver personalized in-car experiences for drivers.

Our auto-grade product offerings: We are able to offer the high quality and complete range of services demanded by our automotive OEM customers.

Our experiences: The company’s three founders, including myself, possessed the ideal combination of skills and experiences needed to start and maintain a company such as Telenav. Additionally, the value of the collective experiences of every member of the Telenav family has played a key role in our achievements.

Q. What do you feel are the reasons behind your product popularity?

Telenav is cognizant of the user experience. Since its founding, the company has focused on a major point in people’s lives: travel. Our mission has always revolved around making life on-the-go less stressful, more productive, and more fun. We understand what it takes to stay relevant in an ever-evolving industry. From our first product in wireless location-based services in 2000 with myPNA to launching the world’s first mobile-phone navigation with Nextel in 2002, to connected-car services today, we have worked tirelessly at developing our products and services to address the needs of consumers on the go.

Most recently, Telenav has successfully transitioned from a mobile-navigation company to a connected-car company with the goal of building the largest network of connected cars on the road. The impetus for this is twofold: 1) the growing importance of the connected-car market and 2) navigation is one of the top use cases for drivers, and a good foundation to introduce more services to help drivers on the road.

Q. Are there any trigger factors/events/individuals that have played key roles in shaping your organization’s road map?

Yes, my two fellow co-founders as well as a long-time, dedicated Telenav executive have played major roles in the successes we have enjoyed. They are:

  • C. Chao, who is also our Chief Technical Officer. He has extensive experience in navigation technology implementation as well as software development
  • Sal Dhanani, who serves as Co-President, Automotive Business Unit, brings years of experience in product marketing, product management, business strategy, and operations within the telecom industry and auto industry
  • Hassan Wahla also serves as a Co-President, Automotive Business Unit. While not a co-founder, he has made many contributions to the company. He has over 20 years of experience in the automotive and wireless industries

Q. What personal learnings helped you to set this company up?

I would have to say my doctorate work in Guidance, Navigation and Control (Aeronautics and Astronautics department) at Stanford University has proven invaluable for what Telenav is doing.

Also, the academic accomplishments of the other three gentlemen mentioned above are quite impressive. Y.C. holds a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University, a Master of Science from the University of Texas Aerospace Engineering Center for Space Research, and a Bachelor of Science from National Taiwan University.

Sal completed coursework through Stanford University’s IEEM program and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington. Hassan holds a Master of International
Affairs from Columbia University, Master of Science in Management from Stevens Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Tech.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be rolled out into the market?

Telenav is currently working on two important new product offerings: Full In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) Software/Services and In-Car Commerce (ICC).

Our latest IVI system, VIVID, is a comprehensive, drop-in, cloud-connected, in-vehicle infotainment system. It is designed to seamlessly combine the best online entertainment and information services with the robustness of high-end hybrid navigation and integrated voice services, starting with Amazon Alexa. VIVID is also a showcase product to OEMs with our ability to integrate online music services and virtual assistants as well as premium hybrid connected embedded navigation software into their vehicle infotainment systems with virtually no integration cost. It was named Most Innovative HMI Feature at the recent Car HMI USA conference, the leading industry-driven event focusing on the advancement of UX and

HMI (user experience and human-machine interaction) technologies in the automotive industry for OEMs, tier ones, researchers, and suppliers.

We are also working toward In-Car Commerce (ICC), a platform that can save drivers valuable time and money on the road by bringing vehicle payment and order-ahead capabilities to the car. This solution will be fully voice-enabled as well as integrated into navigation with our location-based services.

Q. Where do you see you and your company a couple of years from now?

This is a very exciting time for the company. We are transforming from a navigation-oriented company into one providing connected-car platform and location-based services. We desire to innovate and build smarter and safer products that will benefit both OEMs and drivers.

HP Jin: A Formidable Leader

HP Jin co-founded Telenav and has successfully led the company to become a leading provider of connected car and location-based services.

Prior to co-founding Telenav, Dr. Jin served as a Senior Strategy Consultant for the McKenna Group and as a Business Strategy and Management Consultant at McKinsey & Company. He also served as a Technical Director at LINCSS/Loral Space Communications, Inc.

Dr. Jin holds a Ph.D. in Guidance, Navigation and Control (Aeronautics and Astronautics department) with a Ph.D. minor in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, and a Bachelor of Science from the Harbin Institute of Technology in China.

“We desire to innovate and build smarter and safer products that will benefit both OEMs and drivers.”