Meet MapmyIndia, the 'Desi Google Map'

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 21, 2017
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We spoke to Rohan Verma, executive director and chief technology officer, MapmyIndia, about the brand's recent TV outing and more.

MapmyIndia, the map data, APIs, GPS Navigation, tracking, location apps and GIS solutions provider, that has maintained a low profile on the ad-marketing front so far, is in the news for its recent mass market push - a 360-degree campaign, 'har pata humein hai pata'.

Founded in 1992, the New-Delhi headquartered company, claims to have built the largest, most accurate and comprehensive map database for India. Today, it boasts over 5000 enterprise partners, including government organisations. But Rohan Verma, executive director and chief technology officer, MapmyIndia, informs us that this campaign is targeted at both individuals and enterprises.

A Standford graduate, Verma, who worked on creating India's first interactive mapping portal, mapmyindia.com in 2004 (thus founding brand 'MapmyIndia'), says, "This is our first mass market campaign in a decade through which we want to address all stakeholders who can benefit from us." The objective is to create more awareness and get consumers to try the brand's services.

To give us an idea of the insight behind the campaign, he briefly runs us through the history of the company which began almost 25 years back with the vision of his parents, Rakesh Verma and Rashmi Verma. The two, even in the 90s, firmly believed that someday, 80 percent of data will have a location component to it. While this may be a reality today, back then it was dismissed as a pipe dream.

An image from the ad captured using MapmyIndia RealView

Naysayers didn't give up even as late as 2004 when mapmyindia.com was launched or 2007, when the company launched the first all-India GPS navigator. While they had their doubts about who would use/pay for maps in India, today, with as many as 14 car manufacturers including the likes of BMW and Jaguar and 40 car models, 80 percent of all cars with built-in navigation use MapmyIndia.

Rohan Verma

The pointer here, insists Verma, is to the fact that although Indians are easy going and accommodating people habituated to all things 'good enough', this accommodating behaviour is mainly because of lack of better, or perhaps, the best option. "Experience tells us that whenever consumers were given better services/value, they did adopt change. Hence, our campaign seeks to incite and inspire Indians to think of a better India," he states.

Much like this conversation throughout which Verma wittingly abstained from naming the 'good enough solution', which obviously is Google Maps, the campaign positions MapmyIndia as the best maps and navigation service without taking a negative approach to competition.

Though cognizant of the ubiquity and clout of Google Maps, especially among individuals, he believes that MapmyIndia's India-specific and professionally created content will continue to have an edge over Google's user-generated content which lacks accuracy and granularity. And articulating this exact difference or advantage is the campaign tagline, 'not just roads, we take you to doors'.

Last month, MapmyIndia also announced the release of MapmyIndia eLoc, a nation-wide digital address which is basically a precise and ready-to-use unique 6-character code for any address across India. The company has privately invested close to 200 crores in the last 20 plus years in advanced mapping technologies and professional field surveys to create this digital address database, as a result of which over 2 crore and counting eLocs across 7000 plus urban towns and 6 lakh plus villages in rural India are already available for individual, business and government users to use instantly, for free.

Sharing MapmyIndia's vision for eLoc, Verma says, "eLoc can have an impact as transformational on India as Aadhaar; what Aadhaar is to people, eLoc is to addresses. Essentially, with eLoC we are democratising and giving rights to every location in India, be it a big bungalow in a city or a small hut somewhere in rural India. The way Aadhaar talks of the India Stack which is a set of APIs anyone can integrate for payments or financial verification, MapmyIndia Stack allows public and private sector developers to build apps around verified places/locations."

The company also offers location ad-tech services to agencies and advertisers to facilitate planning and decision making. While there's no in-app advertising, MapmyIndia helps marketers with geodemographic analysis and similar location-based data classified on as many as 5000 different parameters.

Recently MapmyIndia also partnered with LetsVenture - a startup funding platform - to encourage startups and developers in India to leverage the company's map and location technology stack to solve problems for Indian and global markets, and to get the opportunity to pitch for investments from leading angels and institutions that are part of the LetsVenture platform.

Announcing the partnership through a LinkedIn article, 'How the Indian startup story will survive, and thrive!', Verma insisted that the 'Indian Startup Story' will not just survive despite the headwinds but will also flourish, if only the "ecosystem realises that it has to understand and respect India for what it is, build businesses and guide portfolio companies following the Indian way."

Giving the MapmyIndia example of what this can achieve for businesses, the article contends, this is what we've done at MapmyIndia for the last 20 plus years. Which is why we've never been unprofitable in our history. Which is why we've seen 40 percent CAGR over the last 10 years, why we have very healthy and positive, strong double digit, profit after taxes. Why we have 5000 plus enterprise customers, 10,000 developers building on the MapmyIndia Stack, 10 million users and customers, and why we have 80 percent value share (in rupees) of the location intelligence market in India, our home and sole market. And which is why 2 years ago our company was valued at a quarter billion dollars, and since which we have grown 80 percent on all metrics already.

Verma says that although it is a 20-25 year-old-company, MapmyIndia is a fast-growing business at the cutting edge of technology. "It's an odd mix of being an existing large enterprise with one that innovates like a Silicon Valley company. We talk of maps that can power self-driving cars, of smart cities and states and smart businesses. There are around 1.3 billion people in India and 50 lakh businesses. Currently at 5000 enterprise customers, there's still room for 100X growth for us! We are making efforts to get there and one part of this is using media." he states.

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