An idea a day - A geographical wiki

This is an article in the Five Startup Ideas series at the 42topics blog. In his essay, Ideas for Startups, Paul Graham argues that ideas are not a critical factor for success of startups. Although I do not believe that ideas are worthless, as many people do, I believe that they are not any where near as important as execution. So to prove my point, I am giving away 5 startup ideas in next five days. All of them describe a problem, its solution, the technology involved, the competition and market size. If you are not a hacker, and want to build any of these things may I suggest Uswaretech.


A Geographical wiki

The problem:

There have been a few attempts to mix Wikipedia style collaborative editing with Geographical data, such as wikimapia. However they suffer from two problems.

  1. For a collaborative software such as wiki to work, they must be very open, easy to roll back to a previous version, easy to edit and easy to audit. You must be able to see whose contributions were constructive and who is just spamming. It must be easy to roll back to a previous version. These features are currently missing from the current solutions.
  2. There is no intent on these. All geographical information is fair game, Instead limit your wiki to commercial information only. Make the businesses provide reasonable amount of information to add themselves to the wiki.

The solution:

  1. Learn from Wikipedia, and how they succeeded. Provide extremely easy ways to audit changes, contribution. Make it awfully easy to change, rollback and edit information.
  2. Only allow businesses to add themselves to the wiki. “My House” is not a valid place to show. This is similar to the notability guidelines in Wikipedia. Make business provide enough information before they can add themselves to the wiki. (Of course you need to provide enough benefits to business in return for that.)

Technologies involved:

Do not use Google Maps, or make a mashup with another API. You need a lot of control over the mapping part, something which no API will provide. Instead go the Everyblock route. They built the mapping API themselves, either buy this technology from them or wait another year until their Knight News Challenge expires and they release the code under a open license.

Existing Competition:

Wikimapia does something similar. Read The Problem section to find out how you can differentiate yourself.

Market Size:

Wikimapia has an alexa rank of less than 2000.



This was part 5 of the series of 5 startup ideas. For next five days we will publish a new idea a day. If you want to read all of them, please subscribe. Oh and have you seen the 42topics startup section? Or if you want you can create your own topic.

This was the last essay in 5startupideas series. Hope you use some of these ideas, or get one of your own. Here is a quote from Yogi Berra to finish things up. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Thank you for reading the Agiliq blog. This article was written by shabda on May 14, 2008 in startup .

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