Turkey has earned a reputation for heavy industry and quality manufacturing but new consumer electronics firm Vanemar is evidence of a new generation of Turkish entrepreneurs rewriting the playbook, and setting its sights on the competitive boat monitoring sector

When it comes to equipment, Turkey offers more than hardware and heavy engineering. New company Vanemar is harnessing the latest app technology to stake its claim in an increasingly competitive remote boat monitoring market. Co-founder and general manager, MevlÜt Şahin, spoke to IBI about Vanemar’s strategy.

Q. What inspired you to start Vanemar?

Our journey began in 2012. We were a bunch of talented young people devoted to designing and creating applications that make people’s life easier through technology. The passion and hard work brought us recognition and success pretty fast, making us able to work with some of the biggest national and international brands. Along the way, our fine-crafted designs and attention to detail won us five national and two international awards. The applications we’ve made are still used globally, with over three million active users. Over the years, we’ve extended our capabilities and partnered with another company that has decades of expertise in other fields like hardware design and security.

Q. Why boat monitoring?

We happened to fall in love with the sea and getting out on the water. Turkey has some of the most breath-taking coastline. Spending more and more time on the water, and with captains and other boaters, we found ourselves thinking about the problems boaters have and how to solve them. In almost all of the conversations we had, we learned that they were always worried about their boat’s status while they are away. In most cases, they were paying someone to look after their vessel. We thought we could offer a product with our expertise in the field of IoT (Internet of Things). Then, in 2017, we decided to invest our time and resources to bring it to life.

Q. How long was the product in development?

We began our field tests in 2018 in different types of boats ranging from 7m up to 35m, with users who were boat owners and professional captains. We primarily focused on reliability and stability.

Q. Boat monitoring is a hot sector. What makes  Vanemar stand out from the crowd?

Vanemar offers an easy and intuitive way to monitor and control your boat remotely. With completely wireless sensors, the system is designed to be easy to install. You only need to peel the sticky band covers on the back of each sensor, place them, and lastly, scan the QR code.

In less than 15 minutes you are good to go. No wiring or drilling is needed. It can detect and alert you about a lot of possible threats including, high water in bilges, low battery voltage, intrusion, overheat and icing, unauthorised movement, anchor drifting, and fire, for instance.

Unlike some of the similar systems in the market, Vanemar does not just send an SMS message or push notification when an alarm occurs. The alert generated by the device is sent to the cloud immediately, which starts a process. The system then sends notifications to all users related to that boat and tracks them if someone opens them. If no one opens the notifications in 60 seconds, the system places an automated phone call to users to make sure they get alerted.

The system also allows you to monitor and track engine hours, fuel tanks, water tanks, battery voltages, and more with its NMEA2000 compatibility.

Vanemar products are also designed to be tamper-proof. You’ll be alerted about anyone trying to disturb the sensors immediately thanks to the innovative design of the enclosures of Vanemar devices. Also, with the always-connected nature of Vanemar, the system can detect attacks like signal jamming, alerting you right away if your boat gets offline.

It also automatically checks for the weather forecasts in your boat’s location and pre-notifies you about bad weather.

Q. So when will the product hit the market?

We are launching Vanemar both in the US and Europe at the beginning of 2020. Vanemar uses a state-of-the-art quadband connection module to operate on various bands all around the world with an integrated global SIM card that keeps your boat connected via 550 different carriers in 170 countries. Right now, we are establishing a reseller network with known local marine equipment stores in the US and Europe.

Nearly 100 of them are established by global companies like Siemens, Ericsson, Samsung, Cisco, and so on. There are plenty of incentives too. Turkey grants generous incentives for R&D activities since the introduction of the Technology Development Zones law in 2004, which brought 100% deduction of R&D expenditure from the corporate tax base, 90% income withholding tax exemption for employees, and 50% of social security premium exemption for employers.

In addition to being relatively close to European countries geographically, Turkey also has Customs Union (Free Trade) agreement with the European Union, which makes trading with the EU easy and hassle-free.

On the downside, the majority of the Turkish manufacturing industry is focused on automotive, textile, and construction materials, so it sometimes becomes tough to find companies that offer goods and services for consumer electronics manufacturing.