We recently published a post about the introduction of !Waytag to progress software developers and business leaders at the AIGS Progress Africa Conference. This peaked our interest and so we decided to chat to Waytag CEO Warren Venter and Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings, an IT solutions provider, to find out more about the Stellenbosch based company.
So what is a !Waytag?
A !Waytag is a simple centralised naming convention for a location that is managed and controlled by the owner. The !Waytag allows the owner to share their location using GPS co-ordinates. The good news is that privacy and security are protected all the time.
In the same way that domain names linked to IP addresses make it easier to navigate around the internet, a !Waytag makes it far easier to navigate to a location.
!Waytag, the concept of which was conceived in April 2009 and started full time development in November 2009, was founded by entrepreneurs Peter McFall, Richard Firth and Warren Venter. It all began when Peter and Warren were enjoying a braai at a friend’s house when Peter expressed his frustration after having used a navigation device, that wasn’t able to find an address due to an outdated map. When Warren picked up on the conversation, he decided to explore the idea of simple navigation further with Peter and so contacted Richard at MIP Holdings to discuss the technology required to implement such a solution. MIP Holdings then approved the seed funding for the project, patents were filed in October 2009 and !Waytag was launched.
“Typing a five line address into a smartphone or navigation device or trying to remember complex GPS co-ordinates is not easy. We wanted to make it easier for people to interact with location by creating a solution that would allow them and businesses to link their location to their own unique name and to enable navigation to that name across a range of devices, platforms and solutions,” explains Warren.
“In many cases, the location of a business is inaccurately indicated on a GPS, and the owner of the address has no means of correcting the inaccuracies – until !Waytag changed the face of location-based services,”adds Richard.
Now, !Waytag has a staff component of nine employees and as part of MIP Holdings, access to its extensive resources.
However, there were some challenges in setting up the company including issues with slow performance of the application in South Africa which resulted in moving the communications infrastructure to The Netherlands.
Another challenge was and continues to be getting populations in various countries for which business content and global mapping has been implemented to know about !Waytag and the benefits of being able to claim and use your own waytag name. To accelerate this process, the company are working hard to make the technology as accessible as possible. “We are forming strategic partners with global companies to roll it out to consumers and ensure its available to everyone for free,” says Warren.
Today, the database currently includes content from more that 21.5 million businesses in 106 countries after successfully securing a content and mapping agreement with Tom Tom in February 2012 that immediately gave the application relevance in those areas.
“The demand for the technology is enormous, given the massive growth of internet connected and GPS enabled devices worldwide. There are 260 million smartphones in 20 countries with the biggest smartphone penetration alone. Consumers increasingly demand simple and practical communication, navigation and social solutions to manage their lives using smartphones and !Waytag simplifies location sharing. The company is working with strategic partners to provide the benefits of the technology across the globe,” concludes Warren.
For more about !Waytag watch the video below: