New start-up tackles location market
MyDoorHandle wants to reduce physical addresses to a simple, clickable snippet of text. With other companies looking to do likewise, it’s going to have to move fast. By Craig Wilson.
With location-based services growing in popularity, the race to provide location solutions for developing markets that don’t require users to enter full address details is hotting up. MyDoorHandle is a Cape Town-based start-up looking to stake its claim.
Started by Steven Ellis, 38, and Dylan Kohlstadt, 40, MyDoorHandle grew out of another project the pair were working on called Easy2Map.com. That project secured them a spot on a three-month start-up accelerator programme, during which they decided to shift focus.
“It has a double meaning,” Ellis explains of the company’s unusual name. “It refers to a door handle, and the word ‘handle’ in the sense of a name.”
Users can link a name, or “handle”, to a location and then send this to other people, rather than using an often-lengthy conventional address.
But more than simply being shorter, Ellis says the handles makes it possible to send locations for places that don’t have traditional addresses, a feature he says could prove most useful in emerging markets and that could help overcome the logistical challenges.
Of course, MyDoorHandle isn’t the only company hoping to become the new standard for addresses in the digital age. Another South African company, WayTag, has similar ambitions. There’s also Addy, a player in the US.
Ellis and Kohlstadt hope a trip next month to Silicon Valley, where they will participate in the BlackBox Connect Summer mentoring programme for non-US start-ups, will help accelerate MyDoorHandle’s growth.
“What we view as one of our competitive advantages is our focus on emerging markets where address systems can be poor,” Ellis says. “We think it could have huge impact, especially in Africa.”
The company’s first round of funding came from 88mph, an accelerator programme, and Ellis says it is now finalising a second round of funding to tide it over for the next year.
“We’re looking at a couple of models for revenue,” Ellis says, “starting with a model where we’ll white-label MyDoorHandle for businesses for use in delivery, e-commerce, logistics or anything else that could do with the streamlining the management of customer addresses.”
Individuals can create handles for free, and this is unlikely to change.
Another option the company is investigating for bringing in revenue is location-based advertising.
So far, the service has had about a thousand people sign up since it was launched in April, and Ellis says a “pleasing number” are returning to the site to share their handles repeatedly.
MyDoorHandle’s mapping data is supplied by Google, but Ellis says the company plans to make it compliant with other mapping application programming interfaces. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media