Location-pinpointing startup, what3words, which is on a missing to reinvent the postcode has topped up its seed round with a further $1 million.
The U.K. startup announced a $500k seed round last November, from a group of angel investors, including Shutl’s Guy Westlake. The new financing comes from several unnamed private investors — only one of whom was involved in what3word’s previous funding round.
what3words has divided the globe into a series of 3m x 3m squares, giving each a unique sequence of three words — such as meowing.creatively.drives or lung.lots.transmitted — to make it easier to pinpoint and share a particular location.
It claims these 3 meter x 3 meter squares can provide more accuracy than a postcode, which can extend to cover a much larger geographical area than 3m squared. It’s also offering people a universal labelling system vs the different postcode/zipcodes used in different countries and regions around the world.
what3word also talks up the advantage of using a series of distinct words for pinpointing location — arguing this is a more memorable and easier way to share location verbally than by using a series of letters and/or numbers. But of course, people are used to giving out their addresses — so it’s got a job of work to do to change habits there.
While w3w’s three word combinations are freely displayed on its map and in its apps, the startup is monetising its offering by enabling people to purchase an even shorter label for a particular location. It calls these OneWords.
Users can choose a word or sequence of letters to apply to a particular map location as a OneWord and, provided that location and the word in question has not already been purchased, get to own it for a year.
Below is a OneWord for FishandChips, for instance:
The price of owning a OneWord for one year is now £1.49 — up from the £0.99 what3words was charging last year.
Last July what3words claimed to have sold more than 10,000 OneWords in the service’s first week. This had apparently risen to 25,000 after four months of being live. The startup is not providing any update on how OneWord sales have been going since then — so it presumably hasn’t been overwhelmed with interest in people wanting to label their location in a slightly snappier way.
what3words said it plans to use its new financing to expand its sales team, enable voice-recognition features within the service, and increase the number of languages available. Currently four languages are supported (English, Spanish, Russian and Swedish). German, French and Arabic are “coming soon”, it said today.
what3word’s new voice recognition features will enable users to speak a three word address and have the system provide distances in meters and specify the countries for possible result matches to ensure it’s hear the user right.
Also today, what3words has launched its first native apps for Android and iOS (previously it offered a web app). The new apps let users buy, move and share OneWords on the go. Other improvements include in-built directions, better map navigation and an improved UI, according to the startup. It’s not disclosing any app downloads at present.
Last November what3words released an API so developers could start incorporating its location system into their apps. Today it said it’s had 39 developers sign up since then — including one developer who’s made an app for the Pebble smartwatch that allows the user to find their unique w3w three-word address at the touch of a button so they can more easily share it.