What3words Pulls $16 Million Investment From Ingka Group for Geocode System

By James White Sunday, April 4, 2021

A blue world map with lights on it.

Technology companies like Apple and Google have offered users the ability to share their location with their contacts for some time now. While these features are handy for navigating to general locations, like the mall or the movie theater, they can be imprecise. You may walk up to the southern entrance while your friends are waiting at the northern side. Startup geocoding business What3words seeks to enable users with a simple yet precise method to identify and share their location. Ingka Group, the holding company owning the majority of IKEA furniture stores, recently backed the startup geocoding company with a $16 million investment.

“We are delighted with this new investment in what3words as they are an innovative company and we are confident of their continued growth,” said Krister Mattsson, Managing Director of Ingka Investments. “We see value in helping to support the build-up of a universal addressing system that can lead to better customer experience, while the precise locations will allow for a reduction in overall miles travelled, reducing the carbon footprint of home deliveries.”

What3words plans to use the latest financing to help launch its location services app and technology into the international market while targeting new partnerships with logistics companies and ecommerce businesses. According to Crunchbase, What3words also raised almost $10 million in equity crowdfunding last year.

Mapping the Globe, Three Words at a Time

What3Words was founded by entrepreneurs Chris Sheldrick, Mohan Ganesalingam, and Jack-Waley Cohen. Sheldrick was previously working in the music business when he discovered the need for a new way to precisely communicate important locations to others.

After several mishaps directly related to breakdowns in the existing addressing system, like the time his equipment was unloaded on the wrong side of Rome, he got together with his friend Ganesalingam, who came up with the algorithm for the geocoding startup business. The two then joined up with Cohen, who possessed experience with translation, and the startup company was born.

The What3words app makes describing a location simple. The addressing app startup business divides the world into three-meter squares, which are then assigned a three-word code describing that specific swath of the globe. Since each unique code describes a very small area, the app provides users with a very precise way to describe a location or even a specific entrance to a building. As an example, filled.count.soap will take you directly to the front door of the What3words London office. The location app and platform are currently available in over 45 languages.

Applying Precision Location Services

The geocoding system and app developed by the startup business has potential in several different industries. Countries such as Australia have already integrated the technology into an emergency app and first responder resources to quickly locate users in distress. Rideshare and delivery drivers stand to benefit from precise pickup and dropoff locations using the three-word codes, 42% faster, according to the company. The geocoding startup business claims that the platform and mobile app are used daily in 193 countries.

About the Author


Headshot for author James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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