Year 1994. A husband-wife duo. An impossible dream: to digitally map all 3,287,263 square kilometers of India. The result? A Delhi-based GPS navigation company called MapmyIndia.
In 1993, after being un-banned in India, Coca-Cola acquired the Indian cola company Thumbs Up and found itself with a problem unfamiliar to companies accustomed to developed markets: very few accurate maps existed at that point. Thumbs Up had a vast network of bottlers, each with an assigned distribution territory, but nothing depicted the overlapping of boundaries of the territories (descriptions such as “along the river” substituted for maps). Not surprisingly though, Coca-Cola wasn’t the only multinational facing such a cartographical dilemma in India: for example, a joint venture of Essar and Cellular One was struggling to figure out where to place cell phone towers.
This created an opportunity for Rakesh and Rashmi Verma, who had begun licensing US mapping software with an aim to enhance India’s map-making capabilities. They approached Coca-Cola, Cellular One, and other companies and obtained contracts to create digital maps that contained information that could aid these respective companies with business (bottlers’ territories) or topographic features (high ground suitable for cell towers). They received advance payments from the companies, which enabled them to make high-quality maps that they could later modify and sell to other clients, including the Indian Defense Department.
This was the first step for a company that was looking to create a digital repository of geographical data that would change the way companies function. During the 2000s, MapmyIndia began producing online maps and it eventually migrated into consumer navigation devices, fleet-tracking solutions for taxi and trucking companies, and mobile apps. Today, the company claims to be India’s most comprehensive GPS navigation & tracking solutions provider, engaging the user on multiple platforms.
Currently, the company offers an entire API stack, IOT devices, a map app, and has the guts to compete with the global giant Google. It has mapped over 10.54 Mn unique destinations (Points of Interests), expanded coverage of over 2 Mn kilometres of road network, 7068 cities at street level with house address level data for 80 cities, 6 Lakh villages, and 3D & 2D landmarks in 86 cities.
Here’s how it does all of this and more.
MapmyIndia: A Top Down, Bottoms Up, Customer-Funded Business Model
Quitting their cushy jobs in the US, Rakesh and Rashmi Verma were passionate to start something in their home country. After coming back, they realised that the geographical maps repository of India had not been updated since the Colonial times, in 1931. Realising a solid opportunity and need, they approached the government for data. When the approach did not work, due to bureaucratic inconsistencies in the process, the Vermas zeroed in on a pain point and a unique business opportunity.