Consider the following scenario. You decide to leave a successful career in the United States in the 1990’s and returning to India to start something in your home country that could make a difference to India. Then deciding to tackle the massive task of digitally mapping India’s vast and varied landscape.
As a result, MapMyIndia (MMI) was created. They were creating digital maps at a time when they were almost never used. Then there was the matter of competing with behemoths like Google. Several times stumbling along the way. Then eventually succeeding. In addition, they plan to go public in 2021 and become a $1 billion company. It’s been an incredible journey that many people are unaware of. Let’s take a look at their journey in more detail!
Mr. Rakesh Verma and Mrs. Rashmi Verma founded the company in 1995 as a husband-and-wife team. They discovered that India’s geographical maps repository had not been updated since 1931, when the country was still under colonial rule. They also realised that digital maps could be used in a wide range of industries, and that any data needed in any sector would include a location component. As a result, they started working on their main goal of mapping & digitising India’s vast landscape, which covers 3,287,263 square kilometres.
They began their journey by firstly digitising whatever paper maps they could find and tracing them with various electronic devices. Secondly, where maps were unavailable, they painstakingly completed the task themselves. Their team practically walked down the country’s streets and lanes, conducting physical surveys. After that, the physical surveys would be digitised and turned into digital maps. They accumulated data on the country’s various areas and topographical locations over time. The company claims to have the most comprehensive database in India, with 7.5 lakh villages and 6.29 million kilometres of roads, accounting for 98.50 percent of the country’s road network.
MMI intended to focus on the B2B market at first because it had a concrete database of various data based on geographic and topographical areas. As India’s economy grew, so did the number of international businesses seeking to expand there. However, many businesses encountered roadblocks and issues due to a lack of concrete digitised map data to assist them with their location data, store locations, topographic features of the land, and other issues. This was the ideal opportunity for MMI, and they took advantage of it.
One of their first major clients was Coco Cola. Coca-Cola required precise location data in order to locate its nationwide network of bottlers and distributors. MMI later assisted them in geo-locating and mapping their entire retail network, as well as their transportation and logistics partners.
They began to receive more contracts from other companies after that. They worked on creating digital maps with data that could assist these businesses with their operations (such as mapping area for retail networks) or topographical features (such as high ground suitable for cell towers for telecom companies).
arrival of new technologies & expansion
Satellite imagery became more widely available as the new millennium arrived and more new technology evolved. As a result, MMI was able to combine their existing geospatial data expertise with cutting-edge techniques such as 360-degree car surveys and mobile mapping, among others, to gain access to even more location-based data.
As a result, MMI launched their website in 2004. According to them, it was also India’s first interactive mapping portal. They launched their website by combining their existing geographic data with digitised maps and topographical data to create an interactive map. This type of information was extremely beneficial to both consumers and businesses.
In 2007, they expanded their product line by launching MapMyIndia Navigator, a pan-India GPS navigation tool that they sold to car manufacturers. This product, which was installed in many cars, was instrumental in the company’s growth and in attracting more attention. Major automakers like Ford, BMW, and GM had licenced MapMyIndia to sell their navigator as an add-on to their vehicles by the 2010s.
The company’s offerings evolved as technology progressed, as they adapted their products and used their unique data offerings in new ways for consumers and businesses. With better experiences, digital maps grew in popularity. As software technology advanced, they also adapted software technology to integrate maps and location intelligence data with existing apps and offer them as services. As a result, e-commerce and food delivery services also began to use geospatial and hyper-local intelligent data to aid in route planning and delivery slot optimization.
competing with google
By 2021, MMI’s expertise in digitising maps had expanded to include a wide range of services. MapMyIndia (MMI) differed from Google and its product Google Maps in this regard. Firstly, MMI chose to focus on the business-to-business segment (B2B and B2B2C) rather than compete with Google Maps and risk losing money when it first entered the Indian market in 2005.
Secondly, most of us use Google Maps to determine distance and traffic between two points. MapmyIndia, on the other hand, has demographic and topographical data as well as geo-spatial data that can be used by businesses in a variety of ways, such as determining how many employees to hire in a given area based on demographics, or determining where to open retail locations based on topography, or by banks determining where to open ATMs, or by telecom companies determining high ground suitable for cell towers.
Thirdly, one of the major differences between the two is that Google’s business is heavily reliant on data and how it is advertised and monetized. MapMyIndia, on the other hand, claims to never use and treat customer information with the utmost confidentiality. This is a huge plus for businesses and enterprises because MMI is a B2B, or business-to-business, and service-based company and product. On the other hand, Google Maps is created with the end user in mind.
As a result it can said that, Google Maps is a data visualisation app, whereas MapMyIndia’s data allows users to analyse geo-demographic data.
New industry rules & partnership with isro
The Indian GeoSpatial Industry received a major boost in February 2021, thanks to new rules from the Indian government, including a liberalised mapping policy for domestic players, the requirement that foreign players licence data through a local partner, and so on. In addition, new drone usage regulations went into effect, which will help to propel the country’s drone industry forward.
MMI is able to make significant gains in a variety of industries and fields as a result of all of this. MMI and the country will benefit greatly from their collaboration with ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) satellite imagery. It will provide MMI with next-generation geospatial data and aid in the company’s growth. Because any country’s security is heavily reliant on mapping its territory using indigenously developed solutions, it would be extremely beneficial to the country and its governmental agencies.
As technology advances, digitised maps are becoming an increasingly important part of our daily lives in a variety of ways. MapMyIndia has had over 25 years of dense licenced data of India that is highly researched and covers every topography, and with the added benefit of MMI not using customer data for advertising, they become a very great alternative for many businesses looking for such vital data for their own purposes.
As new avenues open up in India, where maps can play an important role, such as drone delivery, surveying, and so on, and this being an Indian company with extensive experience in the field, they have a significant advantage over their competitors. And their knowledge of topography and geospatial data will be extremely useful.
So, after going through the company’s entire history, it’s clear that MapMyIndia has had a fascinating and incredible journey in this field over the last 20 years, not only surviving but also pushing itself. As India’s economy grows and new technologies enter the market, one thing is certain: the company will need to be at the forefront of next-generation geospatial technology to remain competitive.
And, based on their history, I believe MapMyIndia has the tenacity, resilience, and patience to succeed in the future as well. –
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