Mapper that beat Google plots route to AIM float

An Indian company that leapfrogged Google by providing online street maps of the country has started pre-marketing in Britain with a view to a potential float on AIM by the end of the year.

WoNoBo offers a street-view mapping platform for 55 Indian cities and covers 70 per cent of the country’s urban areas. It beat Google to the market but now expects its business model to evolve towards e-commerce services and property searches in the style of Rightmove.

It has already signed up 4.8 million merchants, and Indian consumers looking for a company can search the map and click on an icon above the store-front to be linked to a website.

Sajid Malik, chief executive of WoNoBo, said the model worked well in India because most small businesses had not launched their own website, and the lack of traditional street signage and naming in India’s cities meant the country already orientates itself through visual landmarks.

The company has been in London preparing a potential IPO with Strand Hanson, the bank, pre-marketing the float. It could yet opt to sell a stake to a venture capital company rather than pursue an AIM listing.

About $38 million has been invested in WoNoBo, which was spun out of the American company Genesys, an Indian-listed geo-engineering business. It has not yet set a value on the company or how much it intends to raise.

Mr Malik noted that Flipkart is bigger in India than Amazon and OlaCabs is larger than Uber while Naukri is ahead of in the country.

He added that although street mapping was a familiar service in western markets, the opportunity was in e-commerce. “They say the UK is a nation of shopkeepers but India has more merchants per 1,000 people than anywhere else in the world. We have the single largest retail database in India.”