By Allan Maurer
DULLES, VA – The idea of taking social media “on the road” occurred to MapHook Inc. founder and CEO Paul Carter when he was on a tour bus in England going through the village of Tyburn near the Marble Arch. The tour guide mentioned that it used to be the site where London criminals were hanged 24 at a time.
On the way to the gallows, the prisoners went to a nearby pub for their last beer, which, legend says, was the origin of the expression “One for the road.” The accompanying policeman could not drink and stayed on the paddy wagon, leading to the expression (bet you guessed it) “On the wagon.”
In 2008 Carter founded MapHook, and while the company’s resulting Web and iPhone apps are easy to use, there’s a fair amount of complex development behind them, he says.
A breadcrumb trail
“But I’d been to this location numerous times before,” said Carter, “and was fascinated.” He figured he wasn’t the only person who didn’t know any of the location’s details and he came up with the idea of creating a way for people to find information about local areas.
“We allow users to leave a breadcrumb trail of the points of interest and activities in their life, while sharing and accessing information from the palm of their hand, no matter where they are. And our new users have taken to this so quickly – we’ve already had over 60,000 global hook views in just over a week,” Carter says.
Not only that, the app had worldwide appeal that surprised him, he adds. “We had downloads from more than 50 countries, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, a lot of China, Japan.” Downloads from Western Europe were less noticeable.
Users’ hooks are geo-tagged digital memories about events, activities and places that can be categorized and combined into stories, and searched based on a variety of criteria, including author, location, time and type. Hooks can be shared with friends, family, or the world at large or kept private.
MapHook also lets users search for other useful content via Wikipedia and Yelp based on location, combining third-party content with user-generated hooks.
Carter says the app, which is a free download from the iTunes store and also available as a free Web app on the MapHook site, will make money from advertising, The company is also looking at other potential revenue schemes, Carter notes.
Funded by Carter, a successful serial entrepreneur, the startup may seek outside funding in the future. “It depends on how fast we want to grow,” says Carter.
In the meantime, Carter says, “We have a laundry list of features we want to add to this app and then some other apps we want to develop. Our focus is to build presence and the user base. Dollars will follow from that.”
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