Some of the most compelling businesses today are those formed to exploit a gap in the market. Many a successful enterprise was born by creating something that fills a need, and Freddie Talberg’s mapping business, PIE Mapping, is no exception to the rule.
On discovering the lack of maps available for London motorbikers, Talberg’s business began as an evening hobby, but rapidly went from strength to strength, and was responsible for helping to keep London moving during the London 2012 Olympics — no mean feat!
In between running his market-leading mapping company, Talberg also finds time to support other entrepreneurs as a member of the Dell U.K. Centre for Entrepreneurs Advisory Council.
I caught up with Talberg to hear his thoughts on the challenges of growing a business.
How did the idea for PIE Mapping come about?
It was only meant to be a part-time project. I had noticed the lack of motorbike maps for London, so started work on the first-ever paper map. From that, I learnt how to create maps, including managing the data to build them, and the project kept growing until I was spending my evenings processing orders.
We soon discovered we had legal protection over our maps, particularly the data, and, most importantly, were able to re-sell it to clients, giving the business a financial proposition. Following a deal with yell.com, we grew our data collection to such an extent that we were commissioned to map the disability parking data in the capital, which led to another contract to map them for all 116 major cities in the U.K. We’ve continued growing from there.
How is PIE Mapping paving the way for better use of digital transport infrastructures?
When we made those first paper maps, it was pretty radical, as no one had mapped these areas before. The key was recognizing the different requirements certain users had. The U.K.’s A-Z paper maps were just too generic. As websites and portals grew, so too did the need for digital mapping requirements. The tipping point was location data, as that provides so much additional detail.
A few years ago, we were working with Camden council in London to create a London-wide mapping portal, but were struggling to get data from Transport for London (TFL) on its bus stops because of issues with its contractors. Thankfully, because of a push from numerous organizations, including PIE Mapping, for better access, location data is much more freely available for use in creating lots of different applications.
What excites you most about the move toward ’Smart Cities’?
The term “Smart Cities” is really about a huge bucket of capabilities to make urban living more efficient. It means making technology an intrinsic part of our urban lives, and that’s something I’m fascinated by, and exciting to be a part of.
What was PIE Mapping’s role at the London Olympics?
Ten months before the Opening Ceremony, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, stated that the city could not afford for London to run out of beer. The Games’ organizers had recognized they couldn’t afford to be without a plan for keeping London operating during this period, so we were asked to work with TFL to build a journey planner to keep London moving.