Altaf Ganihar had 10 international research papers in renowned journals on subjects ranging from physics, geometry and computer graphics under his belt before he turned 19. Few years later, the boy from Hubli, a town in Karnataka, had a Google Scholar page dedicated to him. Subsequently, he had offers from the University of North Carolina and the University College of London for a direct PhD.
Apple 3D Maps, too, called him for an internship in September 2014.
He declined all these offers like he had decided against going to an IIT, after clearing the entrance test, because of his mother's illness. Instead, he did his engineering from the modest BV Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering and Technology.
“We don’t have a craze for the IITs in Hubli,” says Ganihar nonchalantly.
In hindsight, all the seemingly missed opportunities turned out to be blessings in disguise. Pursuing his passion for mathematics, physics and computer graphics while staying back in his small home town, Ganihar, now 23, launched a startup Snaptrude that is fast disrupting the real estate market in the country.
A rapid designing and modelling software for real estate, Snaptrude is being described by the industry as a "paradigm shift in 3D modelling".
Ganihar took to non-Euclidean geometry and Einstein's general theory of relativity at a young age, when his classmates were still struggling with arithmetic.
“In standard eighth, I was learning advanced calculus, vectors and theory of general relativity,” says Ganihar. At the engineering college, Ganihar was invited by his faculty members to take a shot at a problem - involving a Defence Research and Research Organisation (DRDO) project - they had tried to solve with little success. He cracked the problem in two days. Not surprising then that he was invited by the faculty to pursue research and was given a lab of his own and excused from attending regular classes.
By the fourth semester, Ganihar was in a different league. He was leading an India Heritage Project that was a collaboration among the country's top-notch educational institutions. It involved reconstructing a heritage site in Hampi, a well-known temple town in Karnataka.
The team had to create a 3D walkthrough with low-resolution images. His team built a 3D search engine that collected data from low-resolution images and returned a high-resolution scan. The final output was expansive and probably, also the trigger for his own startup.
“I realised architectural software require manual and laborious tasks of 3D modelling and placing of components, shifting the focus away from the real issues at hand,” he says.
He started developing a product to automate these tasks, so that the architects can focus on architecture. Google Scholar page, offers from foreign universities and Apple's internship came about during this period. Ganihar wasn't swayed. With conviction in his idea and an indefatigable spirit, Ganihar took the road less travelled and that is how Snaptrude Technologies Pvt Ltd was born in September 2015.
Snaptrude software accomplishes in "few seconds" what conventional architects take 15-20 days to do, says Ganihar. Making floor plans is a time consuming exercise and most architects end up spending a lot of time doing that. With Snaptrude, however, one needs to take any floor plan, scan it on the software and it immediately throws up a 3D image with which one can immediately begin the work.
The software is fast gaining acceptability in the market. Snaptrude has, so far, raised Rs 23 lakh from his college and a family friend. The product was entirely developed by him and a bunch of interns he hired. He is selling the software as a subscription service charging $20-40 per log-in.
His software is partly being seen as a competitor to AutoCAD, the drafting software application that enjoys a monopoly in the building-design field.
Ganihar now faces the challenge of scaling up his application, turning it into a profitable business opportunity and staving off the competition.
Having realised Hubli's limitations, he moved to Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, some time ago and is now enrolled with the Brigade Real Estate Accelerator Program (REAP).
Ganihar says his love for physics and maths and perseverance have brought him far in life but the life might just be beginning.