First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Petr Pridal: We’re doing very well, thanks. Our team members are based in different European countries, so it was great to see them after a few months of purely remote work and on-line meetings.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded or Joined MapTiler
Petr Pridal: In 2008, after several years of working as a freelancer, I was offered a collaborative opportunity with a consortium of Swiss libraries – led by the Zentralbibliothek in cooperation with ETH Zürich. However, due to legal obstacles, they could not hire me as a self-employed person, so I founded a company with the help of my friend and great colleague Václav Klusák.
After years of work on various contracted projects, we decided to offer our software and map services as a boxed product to companies and developers around the world. We named the company after our most important product, MapTiler. We used this tool extensively ourselves, and also offered it to the open-source community.
Today, 200 million people interact with our maps every month. Fifty million view them directly from our servers, and the rest run on our clients’ servers. These clients include well-known global brands and institutions, including NASA, SIEMENS, IBM and Cisco.
How does MapTiler Innovate?
Petr Pridal: We are very open-minded and hands-off when it comes to leading our team. We hire innovative people, and when they’re given a task, it’s up to them to use their creativity and abilities to come up with solutions. Of course, we always offer help and support to each other, which is one of our core values.
We’re also proud to be a part of the open-source community, which encourages innovation and giving back. We pride ourselves on being very flexible, open to changes, and always welcome suggestions on how to improve our processes from both internal and external sources.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business and how are you Coping?
Petr Pridal: We were fortunate that the coronavirus pandemic did not affect us as much as other industries. On the contrary, during this period, we on-boarded some large clients. Many customers were conducting development operations and integrating new products, while operations were slowed.
We also realized that we needed to do our part in supporting the fight against the pandemic and wanted to support the public interest. For example, we partnered with the Berliner Morgenpost, a German daily newspaper, to support a map showing the spread of COVID-19 around the world. It had an incredible reach, with up to 30 million people viewing the map daily. MapTiler supported this project almost free of charge.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices and what are the Lessons Learned?
Petr Pridal: Some customers faced severe budget cuts due to the crisis. We faced the dilemma of cutting clients off versus providing our services free of charge, or with deferred payments. We chose the latter. During such challenging times, we realized that opportunities to be an empathetic team player could be valuable in building long-term trust and strong partnerships.
We can’t stress enough how remote work, as a part of our company culture, is beneficial for the smooth operations of our whole team. It’s absolutely crucial to an international team such as ours and has allowed us to keep moving forward and continue growing.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you project yourself and MapTiler in the future?
Petr Pridal: Leading a company which is expanding year after year is a big responsibility, and of course there is some stress connected to this role. I like to de-stress with a walk in the woods or by going for a hike in the Swiss Alps with my family.
The main goal for the future is to keep streamlining the MapTiler platform and to make mapping more accessible and enjoyable for mobile and web application developers. In terms of specific plans for the future, our team is ambitious. We want to become the largest provider of maps in Europe within the next few years.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to Stay in the Game?
Petr Pridal: Our biggest competitor is a giant we all know… Google. But, in contrast to Google, we pride ourselves in fully respecting the privacy of our clients and the end-users of our maps, while also allowing our customers to make the maps their own, with customization options to fit their brands.
We offer maps to companies and institutions, which can integrate them directly into their own mobile and web applications. We don’t collect any end-user data that can be resold or used to target advertising at individuals. Many people don’t realize that this is a major revenue generator for Google Maps, and many companies unwittingly surrender business secrets as well as customers’ personal data in this way. This goes completely against MapTiler’s core values.
For systems where high levels of security are required, we also offer our software, data, and server builds for running maps in a closed environment, such as onboard airplanes, in a corporate intranet, or on devices operating in the field. Thus, our client companies have full control over the entire map system, which does not need to be connected to the Internet at all.
When creating products, it is also possible to use map data packages, which can be distributed together with your program. For example, anyone has the opportunity to create a mobile application that works entirely offline.
Today, over 80% of all information created has geospatial data and geographical context. Companies need maps to showcase such information on the web and in mobile applications. Maps should be highly personalized, tightly integrated, and fully secure – without ads and with no leaking of sensitive personal or business data. At the same time, these capabilities should be affordable and scalable. MapTiler ticks all of these boxes.
We plan to keep doing what we have been doing – creating and sharing beautiful maps because we love them, and we’ re good at it.