The fully-grown start-up MapCreator is conquering the map-making world from the centre of Eindhoven. The company provides custom made, easy, fast and accessible mapping solutions for your business. Having been heavily focused on the newsrooms market for the past years, MapCreator is now looking to reach new markets with the launch of their brand new tool, released at the beginning of this month.
Innovation Origins sat with Christian Erades, CCO and founder of MapCreator to talk about the start-up and what the future holds.
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What makes MapCreator stand out?
“I would say that there are a couple of things which distinguish us from other companies. One of the things is the customization we have incorporated into the tool. But also, the support we offer. We are very customer-focused. We developed our tool together with our target audience and we are constantly improving upon it with them. Consequently, we always want to keep ahead of developments and ensure that the tool remains at the top of its game. This is also why we think we are quite revolutionary, as our tool can actually do things that are normally reserved for niche markets. Yet in the main, it can really make a difference in terms of customization.”
Can you give an example of a niche market where MapCreator has made a difference?
“For example, we have a product called Maps4News for newsrooms, where we have an online website that journalists can use. In the past, journalists were generally not interested in producing content in ways other than by writing articles. Yet nowadays journalists are moving with the times, evolving with the rest of the world as fewer people needed to do more work. This is where our tool, in particular, makes a difference. Regular journalists can write articles and can take great pictures. However, they should be able to create other content as well. With our tool, they will be able to create maps which go with their articles, whether for print or online. E.g., interactive maps or just static ones. This meets the needs of this brand of journalism.”
“We incorporate branding. We make sure that a large group of journalists are able to use the system, and that people without any graphics experience are also able to use it. As well as graphic designers of course. Who are in general, few and far between in newsrooms these days. Even they are using this tool. They tend to use it to save time.”
What was the motivation behind MapCreator?
“I started at the company 12 years ago, but then we were still a cartography business. The company’s owners idea at that time was to build a new company that had an international market. They basically wanted to fully automate the map-making process. When navigation systems first started up, there was less need for printed maps. Yet they invented a cartography engine which could generate printed maps within seconds, minutes or hours depending on the content of the map.
Within a year we established MapCreator. We discovered a few business models that worked quite well back then, which put more focus on printed media I would say. We could us their licensing models on a regular basis, however that was not as advantegeous as it is today. Yet that is how our company started.”
What has been the biggest challenge during your time at MapCreator?
“I would say the most challenging moment was around the beginning of 2014, when the other CEO left the company and the owners asked me: what would you do if it were your company? We had a conversation about that with one of the shareholders. He had some cool ideas, which were very old fashioned … But, eventually, he could also envision my future objectives. At that time, if they had chosen not to go with this focus, then it could have been completely different. Because back then, we were really focusing on the print market. That offered future opportunities, just not ones that we have nowadays.”
“I believe that was a crucial step our company made, when the owners believed in this new focus.”
What has been the most gratifying moment?
“I would say the best moment is that key, internationally renowned brands have chosen us. That large entities around the world accept that we really know what we are doing. I consider these the best moments.”
“Bild, Financial Times, CNN, Washington Post and hopefully soon – NBC Universal; I would say these are the names that really stand out”
Location of companies working with MapCreator. ®Maps4News.com/®Here
What do the next years look like for MapCreator?
“We will hope that we will have brought both the MapCreator tool and the Map4News brand up to a higher level. That our new tool MapCreator will allow existing users and all new and potential users to adapt and join our platform … We also hope to understand our new markets better. So that by the end of this year, we will have a perfectly defined strategy on the new focuses for us looking towards the future.”
What is the ultimate goal of MapCreator?
“I would say the ultimate goal would be is that we remain the sole providers to multiple markets, as we currently are with Maps4News. Plus that we maintain a low entry level for everyone who needs to create a custom map along with annotations … In terms of technology, we want to make a difference and to set new milestones. To make sure that we stand out when it comes to what we do for all kinds of markets that we currently provide for.”
“And still be a start-up company in our minds, you know. Because we are our own start-up company, that is how we got bigger and how we got a lot of young people attracted to our company in the first place.”
Founders: Peter Nientker, Rob Bieling, Martin Bruin and Christian Erades
Revenue: looking to close 2019 with €1.8 million
Employees: 25 people in the Eindhoven office, of which 6 are international interns and several are part-timers from technical universities. Additionally, there are around 10 international agents worldwide.
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