During our conversation about Indian navigation pioneer MapmyIndia, Sid Talwar, a venture capitalist who had bet big on it almost a decade ago, sounds a little too enthusiastic about the company’s prospects. His fund Lightbox backs a whole gamut of tech start-ups — Cleartrip, Greendust, InMobi, ZoomIn, Kotak Urja and Info Edge, among others. And yet, the one company in whose business Talwar sees a distinct edge is MapmyIndia.
“If you look at India, no local mapping company has emerged here. To be able to create this kind of intellectual property (IP) — that is, map base data — in India, is unheard of.” In 2007, when Lightbox invested in CE Info Systems, the parent company, the rationale, in Talwar’s words, was, “We were investing in the opportunity to create detailed maps of the country.” At that time, Indians were still getting used to web 2.0; e-commerce and smartphones were not heard of. Today, however, the story has completely changed.
Maps are becoming increasingly critical for both businesses and individuals. The Indian location-based services (LBS) market was hardly worth ₹50 crore about seven years ago. Contrast that with today, when it is estimated to be a ₹2,000 crore market. “Whether you are a taxi aggregator or an e-commerce player, the question is how do you get your next hundred million customers? Or even reach out to the present hundred million? If you are a cab company, how do you find house number 415?,” Talwar cites the extent of the opportunity in the maps business.
Other investors must have come to a similar conclusion, as Lightbox’s funding in MapmyIndia was followed by another $30 million being poured in over the next four rounds by Nexus Venture Partners, Qualcomm Ventures and Zenrin, a Japanese firm engaged in the production and sale of map databases. “Till 2006, we were a ₹3-crore company. Now, we are in the ₹100 crore range,” says Rakesh Verma, founder and MD, MapmyIndia.
The company is reported to have grown at 35% last year and has an order book of ₹200 crore in the current year. In terms of verticals, MapmyIndia addresses four key markets — direct consumers (through free and paid app/maps), automotive (40% of revenue), mobile internet (20%) and enterprises and government (40% of revenue). While MapmyIn