They gave India many firsts starting from national digital maps to online portals offering interactive maps. Here's what made them sucessful.

“In the year 1994, a whole year before Larry Page was to meet Sergey Brin, the very concept of having a digital map was unheard of let alone feasible. Google Maps, the web mapping service that the world today swears by, was still 11 years in the future. At that time there was an Indian entrepreneur couple - Rakesh and Rashmi Verma who had taken upon themselves the massive and pioneering task of mapping out all of India. The promoter couple who had just returned from USA after a 12 year stint with GM and IBM respectively, hit upon this idea in a chance interaction with the representatives of Mapinfo Software which was into developing tools for map creation and analysis. Thus took birth CE Info Systems popularly known by it’s brand - MapmyIndia.

Over the next 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, the company focused single-mindedly on compiling data for completing the India map product. But they began to realise that having high ambitions was not enough when they met with their first major challenge – financial constraints. Collating accurate geographical data for a country as big as India requires huge amount of investments and monetary commitment, something that posed a problem for them being a start-up entity. The other major challenge that stood before them was to find a way to keep the collated data continuously updated and relevant to the current times. The challenges were huge and even the most adventurous entrepreneurs would have caved in at this stage. However quitting was the last thing in the promoters mind. Instead they carved a radical plan, that if executed successfully could kill two birds with one stone. “The strategy to address these challenges was quite simple – provide enterprises with GIS solutions on top of the map data that added significant tangible benefits to their business operations and planning. In this way, the company was able to generate a revenue stream to drive future investments into building the map data. And because the enterprises were using it for their operations on a daily basis, they would provide the necessary feedback to ensure currency of the data”, explains Rohan Verma, Director, MapmyIndia (CE Info Systems).

With innovative ideas as these, its no wonder that they soon had their data collated and ready for use. A strong desire to propel India among elite countries where maps had substantially improved the quality of everyday life of people is what led CE Info Systems to introduce their first comprehensive B2C Digital Mapping website in the form of MapmyIndia.com to Indian consumers. Launched in September 2004, it became India’s first interactive maps and directions web portal.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2012

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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