There Are Startups, and Then There Are (Mapping) Startups

From gaming to weather, the difficulties of being a start-up have been well documented. Of course some make it look easy (that means you Google), but the plight of the startup is far more intricate and challenging than it may seem.

With that in mind, here are few obstacles mapping startups face in today’s saturated tech landscape.

The Investment

Like with any business, cash is a necessity. And while the garage maybe the perfect launch pad for some startups (everyone knows about Facebook and Apple), creating a map of the world that fits perfectly in anyone’s pocket takes a little bit more than a few desktops, a lack of sleep and take-out (although the last two can be seen in startups of all shapes and sizes, especially the take-out part); it takes a huge flow of both financial and manpower resources. For example, Google hits the street with futuristic cameras (among other things), while Nokia relies on laser wielding cars to gather the most pertinent, up-to-date mapping data (both of which are definitely more expensive and time intensive from a manpower perspective, than acquiring a mini-fridge for the garage office). And OpenStreetMap? Well the millions of contributions from mapping do-gooders speak to the mechanical efforts invested on our part. :)

Acquiring the Mapping Goods

Beyond the financial commitment of just manpower, acquiring mapping data requires a large monetary investment as well. Furthermore, given that licensing such data comes at a price – and going out and acquiring it via the Google and Nokia route provides companies with much more creative flexibility – sourcing data for just basic mapping capabilities, let alone for features such as street view and GPS routing (which have become second nature in modern navigation), is a huge obstacle that mapping startups can run up against (at least initially).

Cutting Edge Quality

Providing a quality service that meets the technological demands of the day is central to almost any entity, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the world of modern mapping. From developers to the idea itself, startups (and any business for that matter) require constant maintenance, and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Users want a product that not only works but gives them exactly what they need. Thus, mapping services must feature constantly dynamic content that addresses user needs. This of course requires vast research, support and a dedicated workforce that keeps things together – all of which come at a cost.

So there you have it, a snap shot of what it takes to make a modern map. Definitely makes you think about not taking good directions for granted. ;)