French mapping startup Mapstr is today taking the next step in its mission to help people around the world remember and organize their favorite places — launching Android, web, and iMessage versions of its app.
Founded out of Paris in 2014 by Sébastien Caron, Mapstr has built a small following of 50,000 monthly active users (MAUs) over the past year for an iOS app that lets you bookmark any place around the world, from pubs and parks to museums and everything in between. Though similar features exist in other popular mapping apps — including Google Maps — Mapstr has been building a service dedicated specifically to this cause, ensuring you never forget all those great places you visit.
You can add places to your bookmarks through detecting your current location, manually searching for a place, or even taking a photo of an address — Mapstr taps the smarts of optical character recognition (OCR) to automatically identify and save an address. And Mapstr packs a ton of additional features, including tagging, which lets you group related places under the same category, such as “museums” or “car parks.” You can also access business details like opening hours.
Mapstr isn’t the first company to create such an app — Pin Drop hit the U.S. in 2014 with a similar proposition. But it was closed due to lack of funding, and its U.K.-based team was eventually hired by Apple. Then there’s Citymaps, which offers similar functionality but has a slew of extra features that make it more of a social travel guide.
Android, web, and more
Today, more than a year after Mapstr was launched on iOS, the service is now also available on Android, and the company is introducing a version for the web and iMessage (iOS 10 only) as well. Related to this, Mapstr is also launching a WordPress plugin and a software development kit (SDK) that lets third parties embed Mapstr maps in their own websites and apps.
As Android is the most common mobile operating system in just about every market, its version of Mapstr perhaps represents the biggest element of today’s news in terms of immediately scaling the service beyond its existing pool of users.
The app has been in beta testing for a few weeks now and has amassed around 5,000 users in that time. “We were a little afraid of bad reviews by releasing a very early beta version, but users have been amazing, telling us all the bugs and crashes they [experienced] in a very positive way,” explained CEO Caron to VentureBeat. “In fact, they were so happy to finally find an app to save their favorite places and share them with their friends that they almost didn’t care about the various bugs.”
Caron told VentureBeat that the company has raised around $ 1.4 million in investment so far, and though it isn’t yet monetizing the app directly, it does have some plans for how it will do so in the future. For example, it may let users subscribe to maps that have been created by brands and media partners, perhaps as part of a special promotion that invites users to traverse a city.
“We’ll [also] let firms, such as media, tourism companies, public authorities, and so on, use the Mapstr platform to send a map of their own to their customers and embed those Mapstr maps on their website,” said Caron. “It’s a SaaS (software as a service) model, with additional services for professionals and partners, which may include in-app purchases.”
So while Android and the web are a major part of today’s news, the company’s longer-term vision — to create and monetize a platform that makes it easy for organizations to group and package “places” — is also worth noting. Mapstr wants to create an app that’s like Pocket… but for places. “We’re also working with many lifestyle and travel bloggers to let them use Mapstr as a new way to communicate with their audience, along with APIs to be integrated in any app,” Caron said.