He doesn’t believe age is a factor in building one’s dream venture. In his view, entrepreneurial skills don’t come with age. It comes with the work and the research one has done and the experience gathered; it can happen at the age of 20 or 30 and it depends on the person to person.
And this 23-year-old Indian engineer has just proved beyond doubt that entrepreneurship is in his DNA.
Meet Altaf Ganihar, an extraordinary young man from Hubli (a small town nearly 410 Km away from Bangalore) and founder of Snaptrude, a startup that converts a hand-drawn sketches to 3D models with materials and estimates — all within a few seconds. And Altaf could well be the next billionaire in the making, given the number of investors flocking to back his venture.
“Real estate computer-aided design is slow, laborious, expensive and non-interactive,” he told e27. “Snaptrude is a solution to this problem. The way how it works is simple: You take any floor plan with rough hand-drawn sketch, take its photograph, and upload into our website. The site will then throw up a 3D model with information pertaining to area schedules and materials, along with the bill of materials and quantities.”
Altaf has been a brilliant kid since childhood, with immense passion for Maths and Physics. When he was in the 8th grade, he got a few high-level books on these subjects. He became so engrossed in those books that he quit schooling to learn more. By the time he reached the 9th grade, he had already acquired the skills to solve university-level problems.
Altaf dove into the depths of the Theory of Relativity and more specifically the Lorentz Equations, and re-derived these equations through his own unique method. His pre-university teachers recognised his talent early on and supported and assisted him in his journey.
After a few months of preparation, Altaf cracked the prestigious IIT-JEE test in 2011. However, due to his mother’s bad health, he decided to pursue an Engineering degree in a local college in his town.
“Skipping pre-university to learn non-Euclidean geometry using my own skills paved the way for my first step into Engineering. While the first semester at the college went on normally, I began to feel antsy from the second semester,” he laughed.
In the meantime, he submitted a few papers as part of the course. Impressed by the research papers, the faculty invited him to take a look at a problem they were struggling to solve for a DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) project. He solved the problem in two days. He was then invited to pursue research. The college set up a lab for him at his home and excused him from attending regular classes.
“By the fourth semester, I became Project Lead of an India Heritage Project; It was a collaboration among multiple top-notch educational institutions in the country, who were to reconstruct the site of Hampi, a UNESCO world heritage, using 3D technology. My team was tasked to create a 3D walkthrough with low-resolution images and scanners,” Altaf narrated the story.
He conducted a research in geometry processing for 3D applications and built 3D search engine, as well as algorithms that generated high-resolution 3D models from low-resolution images and scanners. This led him to the world of architectural software.
“I noticed that architects spend most of their time in trivial tasks like 3D modelling. I allowed them to focus less on the real art of architecture and I began to work on a product that would convert a drawing to an instant 3D model. What started as a project was displayed as a product at a real estate exhibition in Hubli. It gathered great interests and potential investors as well,” he explained.
But this was not something Altaf wanted to do in his life. He was more interested in pursuing a PhD programme and wanted to attend Stanford School, which has the best 3D school in the world. In the meanwhile, he also got an offer from Apple 3D for an internship program, and was accepted by some of the most prominent professors in computer graphics for PhD programs.
He weighed the options of going ahead with his academics and converting the project to a full-fledged product. At the end of the battle of conflicts, the entrepreneur in him emerged triumphant and he decided to stay back and work on the project. He then decided to convert this project to Snaptrude.
Changing the landscape
In addition to converting a scribble to a 3D design in a short time, Snaptrude also features an AI-based technology that designs the entire real estate site with the ability to collaboratively edit.
“It also features a cloud-based visualisation engine that enables users to walk through the properties in virtual reality (VR) with the support for a VR headgear. The product enables users to focus on the art of architecture rather than the manual and laborious tasks of 3D modelling. More over, Snaptrude enables you to see the visibility of the project, and know whether you are violating the regulations and compliances,” he added.
Currently in closed beta, Snaptrude will be commercially launched sometime next month. The company plans to introduce a subscription plan for business clients. Altaf claims that in addition to India, Snaptrude is also receiving interest from the US and Germany for beta licensing.
The startup is also part of the first batch of the Brigade Real Estate Accelerator Program (REAP) in Bangalore.
What are his future plans?
“A few years down the line, we are planning to create a completely intelligent system driven by geo location. In future, you will not have to draw your floor plan. Whatever be your concept, this technology will be able to develop the entire project just by using the data we have accumulated from users.”
It is beyond doubt that Altaf is in a league of his own. With the right support system from the community, he can convert Snaptrude to a world-class solution that could change the landscape of the 3D modelling industry.
“Building a startup is like climbing a hill and making an aeroplane mid-air; If one wants to reach the top of the hill, he/she needs to have the skillset to create an aeroplane,” he concluded.