Interview with the founder of Hivemapper, Ariel Seidman

Ariel Seidman, Founder and CEO
Ariel Seidman, Founder and CEO
As the CEO & Co-Founder of Hivemapper, Ariel coordinates engineering and business development teams to delight users. Hivemapper is a decentralized mapping network that enables autonomous navigation and monitoring without the need for expensive sensors, aircraft, or satellites that is backed by tier venture investors.  The Hivemapper platform helps many of the world’s most important organizations build 3D maps that automatically see and reveal changes.  Ariel got his start in mapping over a decade ago at Yahoo! Search and Maps — learned a ton about building maps at scale. It’s much too expensive. Since then I’m on a mission to democratize the tools for building maps.  He then went on to start Gigwalk, a location-based data collection company that turns mobile devices into a second paycheck collecting data for all the top mapping companies. Gigwalk was recognized by Fast Company as a Top 10 Mobile Innovation Company.
1. What is Hivemapper?
Hivemapper is a decentralized mapping network that enables autonomous navigation and monitoring without the need for expensive sensors, aircraft, or satellites.
Said another way, maps are a critical digital infrastructure that practically every human on this earth uses every day and yet they remain incredibly expensive to build and refresh.  Our tools make creating accurate 3D maps easy and cost-effective, and with nothing more than a video camera anybody can build their own map.

2. How did you come up with the idea of Hivemapper?
While a product manager at Yahoo! Search many years ago I observed that about 30% of all search queries were location related (places, navigation, etc.) and yet the underlying data to answer those questions was missing unless you were willing to spend billions building and collecting that data.  Google wrote massive checks to build their own map and today Google Maps has more than 1 billion active users.  It seemed crazy to me that that the only way to build a global map/location layer was by writing massive checks to go and collect the data and do so in a very centralized and top-down approach.  That meant that unless you were Google or Apple that you simply could not meaningfully participate in building a global map.
If you ask most people the following question – if you could only have 3 apps on your phone (and no browser) most people would select a maps app like Google Maps as one of those three apps – it is just that important to people.

3. What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are today?
The list is long. Most investors do not study or understand the mapping ecosystem.  They look at hundreds of payroll software, payments, travel, etc. companies but the number of mapping software companies that they look at is relatively small and so you don’t have hundreds of investors to choose from.

4. What makes you different to your competitors?
Lots of companies tie themselves very closely to a specific camera and/or collection platform.  Customers hate this as it limits their options and reduces the kind of map they can build.  With Hivemapper you can build a map using almost any video camera on aeroplane, drone, helicopter or ultimately car. This flexibility gives customers the freedom to switch between airborne and ground collected maps or do both.  You can only do this if you have the technology to stitch together a global map from this wide array of sources and we have been building that for 4 years.
Additionally, our Change Detection maps automatically identify changes to buildings, terrain, roads, etc. so customers do not have to go searching for important changes we automatically surface these changes using our Change Detection and ObjectAI.

5. What is the future of this space?
Decentralization.  The world is a very large place and it simply does not make sense for a single company to coordinate and fund building a map from Cupertino.

6. What advice would you give to young budding entrepreneurs?
If you do not love the product you are building you will almost certainly give up when times get tough, and they will get tough.

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