Cxo of the week: Rohan Verma, CEO and Executive Director of MapmyIndia

Rohan Verma, the CEO and Executive Director of MapMyIndia, sheds light on the transformative journey of digital mapping. Read here to know more.

Manisha Sharma
New Update
Rohan Verma

In an exclusive interview with Ciol, Rohan Verma, the CEO and Executive Director of MapMyIndia, sheds light on the transformative journey of digital mapping and location-based services in India. He elucidates the strategic expansion of the company's hardware product offerings into the consumer segment, unveiling the vision behind this pivotal move. Moreover, Rohan elaborates on MapMyIndia's diverse product portfolio, encompassing state-of-the-art trackers, enthralling 'navi-tainment' units, and the revolutionary in-helmet, hands-free smart-navigation assistance. For a comprehensive exploration of these exciting developments.


You can access the complete article below.

Can you provide a brief overview of MapmyIndia and its mission?


MapMyIndia was founded in the early 1990s, by my parents who returned to India from the United States after spending 12 years there. Both of them are engineers, with degrees from prestigious institutions like IIT Roorkee and BITS Pilani. They initiated the company with a strong belief that, eventually, 80% of all data would include a location component, and that maps and location technologies could offer countless benefits and applications. Therefore, MapMyIndia's core mission is to enhance the world through maps and location technologies.

We have been committed to delivering a wide range of benefits and use cases to all segments of society, including businesses, individuals, and government organizations, through the capabilities of maps and location technologies. Essentially, we are a digital product and platform company. Over the course of 28 years, we have compiled the most comprehensive digital map data for all of India and are expanding our coverage to include other countries. We were pioneers in this field, entering it before any other Indian or foreign companies.

In addition to our digital map data product, which offers 2D, 3D, high-definition, 360-degree, 4D maps, we have also developed a suite of software and IoT solutions. More recently, we have introduced drone solutions. Our software is used across various industries, including automotive and mobility, by businesses, government entities, and as developer APIs. We also offer solutions to consumers through our app.


How did you become involved with MapmyIndia, and what inspired you to lead the company as its CEO?

I grew up watching my parents, you know, establish and manage their company. When I was very young, someone once asked me, "What do your parents do?" And I didn't quite grasp the intricacies of their work, so I simply said, "They work very hard." That's what they do. I started visiting the company at a young age, even while I was in school. Just before I headed to college, I undertook a brief internship at the company to gain a deeper understanding of maps and GPS technologies.

While at Stanford during my first year of engineering, my father approached me. It had been 10 years since we'd been building digital map data, serving enterprises like Coca-Cola, Marico, Qualcomm, and HUL for desktop applications in an enterprise setting. However, with the rise of the internet in the early 2000s, around 2004, he suggested that we explore a way to bring the advantages of maps to a wider audience through the power of the internet.


So, in the summer of 2004, at the age of 19, I collaborated with a team comprising an engineering expert, a designer, and our map data team to conceptualize This became India's very first interactive mapping portal. It was during this time that I truly developed a passion for maps and recognized their potential usefulness. It was at this point that I decided to pursue a career as an entrepreneur, marking the beginning of my journey as a second-generation entrepreneur.

Fast forward to 2019, after 15 years of diverse experiences within the company, ranging from technology and product development to marketing and various sales roles. My father had intentionally rotated me through these roles to provide a broad spectrum of exposure. In 2019, he entrusted me with the role of CEO, with the goal of guiding the company towards a long-term future.

What are some key strategic initiatives that MapmyIndia is currently focusing on?


Our core focus is digital map data, and we are dedicated to achieving the most advanced digital map data possible. We refer to this as a four-dimensional, high-definition, information-rich digital map that replicates the real world digitally and geospatially in near real time. This effort represents a unique undertaking to create the most advanced digital map globally, which is our primary objective. To accomplish this, we employ various technologies, including drones, IoT, real-world metaverse technology, AI, ML, and computer vision.

At the heart of our business, we are at the forefront of innovation, comparable to how 4G, 5G, and now 6G are discussed in the technology world. In essence, this is our version of a "6G initiative" for India and, eventually, the world. We are also deeply involved in building drone-based solutions, which we consider one of the three core pillars of our company. The second pillar is IoT, which is expanding and facilitates real-time data collection from various sensors, vehicles, and equipment.

The synergy between our mapping, IoT, and drone technologies enables us to offer solutions to various sectors. For the automotive industry, we provide advanced navigation, connectivity, ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), shared mobility, and electric mobility solutions. In the enterprise sector, we offer a digital transformation platform for advanced analytics and workforce management tools. On the government side, we provide strong support for geospatial-led digital transformation through our GIS platforms and drone-based survey mapping capabilities.


Furthermore, we provide APIs to developers to help them create exceptional applications. Lastly, we have our consumer initiative, which includes the Mapples app and Mapples gadgets. This initiative aims to bring the power of Mapple India and Mapples technologies, along with the numerous benefits of maps, to consumers through a straightforward yet powerful "Swadeshi" and smart Mapples app.

The Mappls app has valuable features. Can you share its main USPs and what makes it stand out from other navigation apps?

At its core, Mapple's app offers the highest quality and most detailed maps. As a user, this significantly enhances your driving experience through several key features. For instance, a common challenge while driving is approaching a flyover – the uncertainty of whether to ascend or bypass it. In Google Maps, you may only see two squiggly lines, making it unclear. However, in Mapple's app, you're provided with 3D junction view images that clearly indicate whether to ascend or avoid the flyover. This is a standout feature of Mapple's app.


Another crucial aspect is safety. Mapple's app displays the speed limit for the road you're currently on and highlights the locations of speed cameras and traffic monitoring areas. This helps you maintain a safe driving speed, not only preventing fines but also ensuring your safety. Furthermore, we offer information on toll and fuel costs for various vehicle types, such as IC engines, EVs, two-wheelers, and trucks. You can also identify toll gates and their associated fees. This empowers you to choose the fastest, most economical, or safest route.

For swift and easy address sharing and finding, we've introduced Mapple's PIN, a digital address system that assigns a six-character code to every location in 3D. Unlike a basic WhatsApp location PIN, our Mapple's PIN link includes all the necessary details.

Lastly, with Mapple's gadgets, you can connect them to the Mapple's app. This feature enables you to remotely monitor your vehicle's interior, view external videos, track your vehicle's location, check engine health, and more. These unique features make Mapple's app stand out.

While Mapple's app doesn't come preloaded like default apps, it only takes a minute to download. We believe it will significantly enhance your navigation experience and hope you'll enjoy using it."

In a nutshell, could you provide an overview of your additional consumer offerings?

Mapples is an app available for download on Android and iOS, and it can also be accessed through a web browser. Additionally, it's compatible with Android Auto and CarPlay. Apart from the app, MapMyIndia offers consumer gadgets, such as the CarEye dash camera. This camera, equipped with 4G connectivity, records live video and allows for streaming directly to the Mapples app. This feature enhances safety and provides peace of mind for you, your family, or your kids while traveling in the car. In case of an accident, it assists in determining fault, which can be invaluable for insurance claims.

MapMyIndia also provides GPS trackers, enabling you to monitor the movement of vehicles. They offer infotainment systems named iSNAVs, which can be seamlessly integrated into your vehicle, offering entertainment and navigation. Moreover, they offer smart helmet kits like Navizer, which I will discuss shortly.

In addition to these products, MapMyIndia has something unique for consumers: cultural art offerings. These products combine the power of maps with the beauty of Indian culture. They are referred to as "Sanskriti" and include maps depicting the journey of Lord Shri Ram from ancient India and the footprints of Krishna on an ancient Indian map. MapMyIndia offers a diverse range of consumer offerings, making it a versatile and interesting brand.

What more you can tell us about Navisor?

I find the issue of road accidents in India deeply saddening, particularly because a significant number of them involve two-wheeler owners. Some of these accidents are a result of distracted riding, often due to riders using their phones while on the road. Many riders tend to hold their phones or place them in front of them to access map apps.

To address this problem, we've developed NavVisor and NavAudio – smart helmet kits designed for safer navigation. NavVisor attaches to the front of your helmet, just below your line of sight, ensuring it doesn't cause distractions. NavAudio provides Bluetooth audio within your helmet.

NavVisor syncs with your preferred navigation app, and when you activate navigation, it features LEDs that indicate upcoming turns and directions. This system acts as a convenient turn indicator, eliminating the need to constantly look down at your phone. Think of it as a two-wheeler heads-up display, placed below your eye line.

NavVisor is an exciting and invaluable safety tool for riders. It has the potential to significantly enhance safety for delivery professionals, as well as individuals of all ages who rely on two-wheelers for transportation in India.

Regarding electric vehicles, could you share with us the initiatives you've undertaken in the EV sector?

It's fantastic that electric vehicles (EVs) are gaining popularity. What we're doing with EVs is addressing concerns within the EV ecosystem using our maps and technologies. For instance, consumers often worry about range anxiety, not knowing if they'll reach their intended destination. To tackle this, we utilize MapIndia's maps, traffic data, terrain information, and other relevant data to analyze a person's vehicle performance and driving behavior. From this, we create what we call a "spider map" that visually displays how far you can travel from your current location in different directions. This is crucial because merely having an 80% charge and an 80-kilometer range doesn't account for variables like hilly terrain, traffic, or other factors that affect your actual range. Many EV companies, particularly OEMs, are incorporating this feature so that drivers can plan better.

Another aspect we've worked on is mapping all the charging stations across India. We can provide real-time information on the nearest charge station's location, availability, and the types of charging plugs it supports. If your planned route indicates you won't reach your destination with your current charge, we'll reroute you to the nearest charging station.

On the safety front, concerns about battery issues have been prominent. We've addressed this by using IoT devices that connect to the Battery Management System (BMS) of battery packs. These devices offer real-time updates on battery status, temperature, charge levels, and other critical parameters. This information benefits fleet owners, vehicle owners, OEMs, and even government agencies, enabling them to monitor and improve battery safety.

In addition to these IoT solutions, we provide various maps and navigation solutions tailored to EVs. Lastly, as the EV charging infrastructure expands across the country, we assist charge station operators and companies in strategically placing charging stations. We rely on geodemographic data and geospatial analysis, an area where MathMandir excels, to identify the ideal locations. These are some of the ways through which we are actively supporting the EV revolution in India.

How does MapmyIndia protect user data amid privacy concerns?

I believe one of MapIndia's unique selling points (USPs) has always been its status as a trusted and reliable Indian partner. When it comes to matters of data localization, data privacy, and data security, our business model is intentionally designed to refrain from targeting or harvesting user data, in stark contrast to the ad-driven models of the major tech companies. We have no incentives to invade users' privacy. On the security front, we take extensive precautions, including end-to-end encryption and Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing (VAPT) to ensure our systems remain impervious to hacking attempts, continuously striving for improvement. We follow practices and processes that adhere to a zero-trust environment and prioritize security by design. Importantly, we store all data within India, while many other companies transfer data overseas. In sum, we approach this comprehensively, with the aim of providing a trustworthy and reliable solution compared to our competitors.

What can we expect to see from MapmyIndia in the next few years? Any upcoming products or developments you can share with us?

The roadmap is exceptionally exciting and equally challenging. We're venturing into the realm of a 4D high-definition, information-rich map, enhancing our digital transformation platform, introducing our N Case platform for the automotive industry, and offering a vast array of APIs, drone-based solutions, IoT solutions, as well as consumer-focused offerings. Furthermore, we're not just expanding our presence in India, but this is precisely why the brand is taking root globally - to reach different regions across the world. It's an exhilarating time for us. While hard work and excellent execution are crucial, the company's future is undoubtedly promising.

Do you have advice for aspiring tech and mapping entrepreneurs?

It's a good time to be an entrepreneur in India, and it's also an exciting era for technologists. The AI revolution is currently in full swing, and I strongly encourage people to explore the latest tools and technologies available in the field of AI. Additionally, if you're interested in using MapIndia's APIs and technologies, our company is wholeheartedly supportive. We actively invest in startups, provide them with the resources they need, and engage in collaborative partnerships with them. We are eager to support startups and tech entrepreneurs across various domains.