what3words

The start-up transforming the way we talk about locations

Founders: Chris Sheldrick, Jack Waley-Cohen and Michael Dent
Launched: July 2013
Website: http://what3words.com/

Everyone’s experienced that frustrating moment when your satnav or iPhone map tells you you’ve reached your location – but in fact you’re down a dead end alley or in the middle of a field.

There’s no doubt that postcodes aren’t always completely accurate – but could the postcode really be dead?

New start-up what3words is hoping to revolutionise the way we talk about locations with its unique code that divides the whole world into 57 trillion 3m x 3m grids and names each one with three words from the English dictionary.

The service’s “memorable, unique and universal” system can pinpoint any location on the globe (to the nearest two metres), so the statue of liberty, for instance, is located at “planet.inches.most.”

For an annual fee, users can purchase one-word upgrades to represent their address or business, so “limit.broom.flip” could soon become “*Startupstowers” (we can see the appeal).

Of course, the system only works if people are familiar with the concept – so mass exposure is going to be integral to the business’ success. However, with over 500,000 people currently using the service and 25,000 one-word upgrades sold since launch just a few months ago, the naturally viral nature of the business seems to be resonating with users.

And it seems investors are also impressed; just last month, the start-up completed a $500,000 seed funding round, including backing from head of marketing at Startups 100 2012 winner Shutl, Guy Westlake.

The founding trio plan to use the finance to continue to refine the platform for both B2B and B2C markets – and to help spread the word.

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