Google Maps is great at getting you to your destination, but what happens once you need to navigate around inside the building? For the most part, you are out of luck if you are in need of step-by-step directions.
“When you go out into the world and you’re navigating from place to place, your journey ends when you get to the door of the building. And the reason for that is because there is no indoor mapping data,” Jose Gaztambide, CEO of GoodMaps, told Hypepotamus.
GoodMaps is on a mission to build out that indoor map. The idea started within The American Printing House for the Blind when the non-profit wanted to find a new way to help the blind and visually impaired community navigate the world around them. When they realized the problem was much more technologically advanced, they created GoodMaps as a stand-alone company and brought in Gaztambide to put the startup on the map, so to say.
GoodMaps builds its maps in three unique ways. First, it uses LiDAR point maps to build a physical representation of the indoor space. Secondly, it helps identify a person’s location within a building through machine learning techniques and camera-based positioning. Finally, the platform packages up that data into a full navigation experience.
This means the mapping system does not rely on any hardware build-out or infrastructure such as Bluetooth beacons to accurately create location-based data.
Right now, GoodMaps is focused on people who are blind or low vision. The team is particularly focused on bringing the mapping solution to retail and transit places in the US, Canada, and the UK.
It is all about creating a more inclusive, approachable built environment, Gaztambide said.
“Whether it’s a retailer trying to make their space more accessible for underserved markets – like people who are blind – or whether it’s somebody trying to make their space more easy to navigate, I think there’s a big opportunity to make environments more understandable and more easy to walk through, regardless of your lot in life and what kind of physical restrictions you have,” he added.
Mapping Out The Startup Scene at GoodMaps
Gaztambide is no stranger to the social enterprise space, with three such startups under his belt before being tapped to run GoodMaps. “This was just the perfect confluence between something that I thought was a really compelling story, a wise and committed group of investors, and the technology was just perfect in terms of trying to tackle what we’re doing,” he said.
The team just landed a $3.5 million seed round, which Gaztambide said is a testament to the fact that their indoor mapping solution has resonated with both users and clients.
GoodMaps stayed close to home for several of its investors this round, as Louisville-based Strike Ventures, Keyhorse Capital, and The American Printing House for the Blind joined in.
On top of the funding, Gaztambide said that the company will see its revenue triple between 2021 and 2022.
While the team is hyper focused on serving the visually impaired community at the moment, Gaztambide sees even more opportunities to build a mapping system that is truly universally accessible.
“There’s no limit to the number of people who need to be able to traverse their space with independence and with reduced anxiety….we really think that everybody deserves a chance to walk into a space and feel like it was built for them,” he said when asked about where GoodMaps goes next.