TechCrunch Interview with Petr Pridal from MapTiler.com (Czech)


– Hi! I am Míra Tenkl from CzechInvest in San Francisco. This year, as traditionally, we brought many companies with us. This year eight: one of the companies is MapTiler and I am making an interview with Petr from MapTiler as part of this conference. Petr is CEO of this company and he will tell us something about what they do, why they come to Techcrunch and what the conference gives them. Welcome, Petr! – Thanks for invitation, Míra. – Can you tell us for the beginning what brings you to San Francisco this year? – Me and my team is working on a product and online services which are available on MapTiler.com. We are preparing maps of the whole world and data for maps. It means something like an alternative to Google Maps API. We are targeting companies and we have maps of all houses, streets and now we are working on global satellite map which can companies integrate with their products. – So you are competing with Google if I got it correctly. – A bit. It is like David versus Goliath. Fifteen people against giant. – How do you position against Google? What is your advantage? – Our uniqueness is in the fact that our maps can run even offline. Which means they don’t need to be connected to internet. Moreover, we deliver data and a package of software companies can upload on their infrastructure and closely integrate with their products. That is something Google doesn’t allow. On top of that, you can customize maps, adjust them to fit your brand, match colors, fonts, language to fit your application. An example: Swiss trains are using our maps and highlighting rails to be more visible and sooner than highways on the maps in their systems. Another unique selling point we have is our maps guarantee privacy of the data. It means some companies, like IBM, which is using our maps right now it is important when maps are used in their products that information about map usage in their product is not leaking to third party. So nobody outside knows how many users the app has how many people is viewing a specific part of the map. – That is something Google doesn’t allows, right? – That is the core of their business. They are collecting information about each of us who is using their maps for free where the price is giving our personal information to Google for commercial use and they use the info where we were, how long, and almost what we did there. Afterwards, they personalize ads to us and can create a perfect profile about each of us. But when a company wants to use maps in their products, it is something really undesirable. That is our competition advantage. – It is a great advantage. – As I said, we are on TechCrunch which is the biggest technological conference which took a place yearly in San Francisco. There are thousands of companies, it is a three days conference. You are here for your very first time. I am interested what expectation you brought here and today, last day of the conference, you can say about the quality of the conference and the benefit for you and your business. – It is great for us to be here. It was a big milestone for the whole team, especially marketing. We need to finish everything. Prepare new version of web pages, finalize posters, prepare everything to be here and prepare everything to make it tip-top as it should be. And we manage it! I am glad for the whole team. As of the conference: it is a huge benefit for us to talk face to face with our clients. Those people are giving us direct feedback and telling us if they find our service useful for them or not. We were really surprised from totally different countries are already using our products in their workflows. It means are maps are part of other start-up’s projects which are presented here. And that is the best. – That is great! – That is the best accomplishment you can get. – That is cool. Can you talk a bit more about your users? How many of them you have? From which countries they are from? And how many of them pay for your service? – We launched map hosting service some four months ago. We already have about sixteen thousands users. Most of them are developers of people who integrate maps to their products. Mostly not the end users. So, the number of people who see and use our maps is estimated to a few millions a day, because our maps are used in products like trains of Swiss railways. NASA is using our maps for giving context. – Sorry, those are paying customers? It means that IBM, NASA or Swiss trains are those who is paying you for the service. However, end-users are the customers of the Swiss Railways and so on who are not paying you for the service but they are getting it as a service from other providers. – Exactly! We are B2B. It means our clients are businesses which are creating apps for their users. So our maps are viewed by millions of people but they probably don’t know it is our map because we have an agreement with the app developer. Another example can be Runtastic, mobile app for tracking people when they go jogging. They are using our maps in part of their stack. It means they have their own business model. Sometimes are those apps free, sometimes paid, sometimes integrated in admin interface they use our maps, because other providers required higher payments and put higher restrictions on how their maps can be used. We don’t have such a restrictions and so we are attractive for companies to deploy our solution. – Can you summarize what you went through in the last few days on TechCrunchi and before? Who do you meet? What benefits it brings to you? How it enriched you? – There are three members of our team. And I am really glad for supporting program organized by CzechInvest. We met people who personally know Steva Jobse, or better knew Steva Jobse and worked with him. The gave us very inspiring lecture and we discussed it immediately with the team how we can apply ideas they told us to our current state of the company and move it forward. It was the first kick, which is amazing. Moreover, we met investers. It is interesting to talk to investors about their expectations how the company must be set to be attractive for them. – Can you share any feedback you got from investors? What to improve, what to focus on? If there is a future chance to get an investment from American investors? – Of course, being a Czech comapny or non-american, foreign company is the first obstacle. It means, if someone is targeting global market he has a little issue by being a bit disqualified in this, unfortunately. But we also met investors who are looking exactly something like this. It means you always have to find an investor who matches you. It means if you are looking for you first investment, seed investment, series A investment, you have to find investors focusing specifically on this. They somehow match technological topic. The invest in software not in hardware, for instance. And on top of this, they are either seeking someone from Europe or at least they are fine with it. – The investors you met here, like Czech investors or Czech capital funds which have a subsidiary here in Silicon Valley, but also American venture capitals you met here. You got a positive feedback on what are you working on? – They really like the product. Of course, some investors are really technical so they immediately goes into details. But others just says: “Well, this looks interesting”. Of course, all are interested in numbers. It means how many people we have and what are the sales number, how fast is the company growing and how many employees we have, on which position and so on. That is the first round of discussion in a nutshell. And then they start asking you about your vision. Where do you want to go. And the discussion goes on and on and what really matters if you match with the investor or not. We met investors from different places. But I have to say it is not vital for a company to take an investor for being successful. I am not 100 % sure at the moment if we need one right now. We have plans and we need to discuss it with our mentors if it makes sense to take an external investor to grow up faster. Our main motivation was to reach certain position on the market faster and speed up what we are working on. However, from my point of view, the first important thing is to have a product, have clients who wants to buy the product, have a clear vision what we want in the future and how we can grow further. And than start thinking if we need an investor or not. But not starting with it. – If it is possible to do it without an investor it is much better, but scaling or fast scaling without external money is complicated. Let’s close it with a short recap of TechCrunch. Do you like it here? Do you recommend to our viewers to attend future TechCrunch conferences? What is your overall impression? – It is an interesting experience. I will definitely recommend to any Czech company to take a part in something similar. Especially if they aim for American or global market, because being here, have a direct contact with the whole market, it is boiling here I would say. Here are the companies to meet. Interesting companies. Anyone can get inspired by how they do marketing, what are customers’ asking for, how is the direct contact with clients and really feel the market. And adjust your product to what your customer expects. – Thank you a lot for the interview. – My pleasure. – It was Petr from MapTiler.

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