Indian Husband and Wife Worth $ 586 Million After Map Startup IPO

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MapmyIndia founders Rakesh and Rashmi Verma have mapped every corner of the country

Over two decades ago, when Rakesh and Rashmi Verma set out to create digital maps of India, the couple were literally breaking new ground. Long before Google revolutionized web mapping, the Vermas roamed Indian megacities on foot, painstakingly plotting streets and landmarks.

But the mammoth task of starting their business, MapmyIndia, paid off on Tuesday. Vermas’ startup was a resounding success in its commercial debut after its IPO. The stock rose around 35% to 1,393.65 Indian rupees ($ 18.4), bringing the couple’s net worth to around $ 586 million. It was quite a bold start for a company that sells digital maps and geographic data covering India’s challenging topography.

A strong start to the market has punctuated several recent highs for MapmyIndia, formerly known as CE Info Systems Ltd. Earlier this month, the company said it had received offers for more than 150 times the number of shares offered in its initial public offering. Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are among those who purchased the company’s software.

The husband and wife team, which owns nearly 54% of the company after the IPO, is the latest founder to find gold during this year’s stock market boom. Indian startups, in particular, are living for a while, driven by strong demand for e-commerce and online services brought on by the pandemic. Local companies like MapmyIndia have led the wave of new fundraising, setting IPO records and tapping the ears of investors looking for the next big market in Asia.

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“No one understood the map data when we started,” Rakesh said in a telephone interview before the announcement. “Today, 25 years later, map data is invading businesses, industries, state-owned enterprises and government departments,” he said.

The startup recorded a profit margin of 31% for the last fiscal year, with revenues of 1.92 billion rupees ($ 25 million) and net profit of 594.3 million rupees. Its profit margin reached 46% for the first two quarters of the current year, ending in September.

Rakesh, 71, and Rashmi, 65, started their business in the mid-90s when companies were hardly interested in purchasing map data. At that time, public access to the Internet had not been introduced in India. Startups had yet to define the culture of today’s tech havens, including Bengaluru and Gurgaon.

As the field of entrepreneurs deepened in India, the Verma stood out for their endurance. Rashmi heads the technology wing of the company, as the chief technology officer. Rakesh has been instrumental in expanding into industries ranging from automobiles to state-owned enterprises.

Their skills were sharpened abroad. In the late 1970s, after graduating from elite engineering schools in India, the Vermas traveled to the United States, where they obtained graduate degrees and launched a successful career in business. Rakesh rose through the ranks at General Motors Co. Rashmi built computer databases at International Business Machines Corp. When the couple returned to India, they identified a niche in digital mapping, which had started to spread throughout the developed world.

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Back then, “databases were tabular, data was thought of in megabytes, and there was no internet,” Rashmi said. CE Info Systems was incorporated in February 1995.

The couple said India’s first years of mapping were more or less a nightmare. Rakesh often joined surveyors on the streets of Mumbai, where the team manually recorded addresses. As technology improved, triangulation of the data made it possible to capture other remote corners of the country.

The bet is won. Barely a year after starting the business, Coca-Cola Co. hired the Vermas to plot their claims, which for many years had been demarcated by vague markers such as “along a river” or ” next to a highway “. Motorola, Ericsson AB and Qualcomm Inc. followed suit, hiring the company to build map lots and locate their mobile towers. In 2004, Rakesh and Rashmi unveiled India’s first interactive maps platform.

“Our data modeling is our key PI and that’s what gives us a head start in this area,” said Rakesh. “We mapped 99.99% of India, capturing every town, city, town and dwelling. “

Globally, Google Maps dominates the consumer segment of the market, with over 1 billion users, far more than its competitors. The app is enhanced by a high brand recall and the benefit of having its software pre-installed on Android devices.

MapmyIndia, on the other hand, has excelled by selling licenses to the biggest automakers, including BMW AG and Mercedes Benz of Daimler AG, and to renowned global brands such as McDonald’s Corp. Many of Vermas’ clients are also local startups, including Paytm, the digital payment platform, and Ola, a popular ridesharing company. Qualcomm, Zenrin Co. and Flipkart, now owned by Walmart Inc., are among the startup’s investors.

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Publicizing the companies was the next logical step after the Indian government changed the rules this year regarding the collection of map and geographic data. The new measures force foreign companies to buy data directly from Indian companies, providing another buffer for MapmyIndia to capture the local market and turn potential competitors like Apple Maps – which uses the startup’s software – into customers. Across India, the company claims to have a 95 percent market share in GPS navigation.

With the money injection, the Vermas plan to expand after integrating maps from over 200 countries into their software platform. But the couple said Tuesday’s success won’t affect their lifestyle. They have no intention of traveling or leaving their homes in a leafy Delhi suburb. Their half-hour journey to the company’s headquarters on the outskirts of town will continue.

“My job and my family, including the four grandchildren, are my lifelong passion,” said Rashmi. “Nothing changes.”

One thing is clear: the demand for geographic data is skyrocketing. The Indian government has forecast a market of $ 14 billion by the end of the decade, reflecting one of the fastest growing rates in the world. Rakesh can’t help but marvel at the way things have turned out.

“We are profitable, our future revenues are predictable and our valuation is easy to establish,” he said.

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