Founded in 2015, Otsaw Digital Pte. Ltd. started off with a dream of wanting to create its own intellectual property (IP) and branding. Five years on, the company is now at the forefront of the robotics and software industry, having pioneered a series of autonomous robotic solutions for security, delivery and mobility applications, implementing self-driving and artificial intelligence technologies into their cutting-edge robotics.
With a global team spanning from Singapore to Silicon Valley, OTSAW strives to improve business processes, safety and people’s everyday lives.
When discussing how the ideas for their groundbreaking robotic solutions (e.g. O-RX and O-R3) came about, Mr Ling Ting Ming mentioned that they wanted to build self-driving and autonomous software, but realised that without suitable hardware to accompany it, they would be unable to properly showcase their software.
On specifically developing an autonomous security robot, Mr Ling expressed that security is one of the industries that has not adapted to technology and was still highly labour intensive. A majority of the people employed as security guards were much older and could not handle the physical aspects of the job.
Thus, borne the idea of a robot that could shoulder the most physically demanding and hardest aspects of the job, and to fill in the gap left by a lack of manpower.
Over the last five years, OTSAW has produced numerous pioneering robotic solutions, filling up the gaps in areas such as security, and more recently, disinfection.
When asked about the company’s ability to innovate at a relatively fast pace, Mr Ling attributes OTSAW’s successes to the team that has been with him the past 18 months. He emphasised how the team has developed a camaraderie over time, which makes working together much more efficient.
Any problems faced are discussed collectively as a team in order to solve any issues, as responsibility is afforded to all members of the team.
“We have a very good frequency. Once you have that in place, you can work as a team and work faster; you understand each other and do not doubt each other. This support allows for work to be accelerated and for the whole team to be motivated together.
It is always about people. People who have the knowledge and passion, who share the same dream with us. People who are willing to persevere despite knowing that this thing might not be successful, or we might not get there,” shared Mr Ling.
Being at the forefront of innovation, it is important for OTSAW to ensure that its innovations are protected from cyber-attacks and data breaches as much as possible. In an increasingly digitalised society, cybersecurity is a key concern for many companies, and even more so for OTSAW, as their innovations and software are powered by algorithms and large amounts of data. Mr Ling ensures that customers understand how the company protects their data integrity and security by signing agreements, but he also included a disclaimer:
“Nobody can say that they are not hackable. We also have to constantly review our security and seek advice from experts. There are a lot of domain subjects and we engage these experts from time to time to advise us in order to improve the security of our data protection, as well as the network and robot itself,” said Mr Ling.
Mr Ling further discussed how important it is to ensure that the company’s IP is protected.
“We file patents worldwide for our IP, we are constantly in contact with our IP lawyers, and we work closely with IPOS, as there are different forms of IP we need to protect. We are lucky that we have a very mature legal system here [in Singapore] that can protect our IP.
I was introduced to IP lawyers when I was in the US, and I learnt a lot from them as they were way ahead of us [in Singapore] back in 2015. Learning from world-class IP lawyers based in New York really opened up my world on specifics such as how you want to craft your patent, etc.
We saw how important it is and how it could essentially increase the valuation of the company,” added Mr Ling.
On a global scale, OTSAW Digital has offices in San Francisco and Singapore, and established a presence in Singapore, China and Thailand. When asked about expanding beyond local shores, Mr Ling urges other companies to venture out and grow their business overseas as Singapore has a limited market. He also shared the company’s future plans for overseas expansion..
“We are planning to deploy to 50 cities over the next three months. On hand, we have 20 countries signing contracts with us. We have waited five years for this moment, and we need to know how to seize the day, to take this as a springboard to leap.
We need to move fast, and again, the internet is the best advertiser. With the internet, the cost of customer acquisition becomes very low and it is effective. If you are building a product that the whole world is going after, you must grab the opportunity to reach as large an audience as possible,” shared Mr Ling.
With an exciting future ahead for OTSAW Digital, Mr Ling emphasised that there is still a need to constantly be ahead of the game. The innovation business is a competitive one and as such, the company cannot afford to be complacent.
As cited by Mr Ling, the sky is the limit as there are still numerous undiscovered areas in the space of robotics and artificial intelligence.
“Currently, we are still at the infancy stage. We see at least another 30 years for us. To remain sustainable and to build a global brand, we need to constantly raise capital to invest in research and development, foreign market penetration and to acquire new technology later on.
I also hope to see the company listed under the Nasdaq stock exchange within the next few years,” expressed Mr Ling.
This article originally appeared in the Entrepreneur's Digest print edition #92 and has been edited for clarity, brevity and for the relevance of this website.