Rohan Verma: Mapping His India
Meet the 19-year old Stanford sophomore behind MapmyIndia, India’s first online interactive map-based Web Site. 


“I’ve always been very curious, and very very passionate about things,” he says. Qualities that gave 19-year old Stanford sophomore Rohan Verma the conviction that he could revolutionize the way people in India search for places and locations. With this conviction was born MapmyIndia (, India’s first online interactive map based website (a la Mapquest and Yahoo Maps).

“Having lived in the United States for the past year, I saw how easy it was for people to search for a place on the map and see how to get there. The benefits of such a technology were countless, and I felt that India should have this as well,” he says.

Earlier this year, Verma joined hands with CE Info Systems, one of the pioneers in this industry (broadly this industry is called GIS or Geographic Information Systems). 

CE Info Systems has been mapping out the entire Indian region for the past 12 years, and possess one of the largest digital map and data repositories in India. “They had been operating in the business-to-business space, offering solutions to businesses in all industries, from FMCG to Telecom. Now they too wanted to empower the Indian public with this digital map repository”, says Verma. 

And thus was launched MapmyIndia.

MapmyIndia, is an interactive map portal, that allows users to search for any location in India, and see it on a map. It offers users the ability to pan, and to zoom in and out i.e. to see a digital map at a very high detail level (up to street level), to a very low detail level that shows more area (like the country level). Users can also see instantly on the map restaurants, hotels, airports, and all kinds of other places; even ayurveda centers! 

What exactly is a digital map, and how is it taken? Verma provides a layman’s explanation of the mapping process.

“Digital maps are created with the help of satellite imageries (taken by satellites revolving around the earth) and also, by actual foot surveys of people walking around / driving around to further analyze the information received through the imageries,” he explains.

“A digital map is just like a photograph, with more information attached to it. In a photograph, each point is a certain color. In a digital map, each point has certain information – like what it belongs to: a water body, land, a road, green area etc. Also, a digital map has an accompanying database which carries information on the points on that digital map, for e.g. in a digital map of Delhi, the accompanying database would store information on all the landmarks, localities, and streets present in Delhi.”

Verma believes that MapmyIndia will be able to make people more “location-aware” about India, as it offers three location-related questions: where is a place, how to get to that place, and what is around that place (on the site these are ‘search a location’, ‘map and routes’, and ‘category search’).

“So our main focus is to empower anyone interested in India, be it a local resident traveling within the city, a business traveler going out of town, an NRI visiting India who wants to plan out his trip, or a tourist who wants to see where all the beaches in India are, and how to get their from the big metros.”

“Besides individuals, we also believe that businesses across the board will benefit from the internet mapping technology that MapmyIndia brings to India,” he adds.” Displaying one’s location on an interactive map can lead to a manifold increase in everything, from quality of customer service (imagine a bank that can easily tell its customers where its nearest branch is, and how to get there) to radically increasing physical sales (a hotel located in a prime location can best show this on a detailed, interactive map, which gives visual perspective to an online visitor).”

The MapmyIndia business model is based on solutions offered to businesses that can benefit from having their locations displayed on an interactive map. Any business/hotel/institution can display its location on an interactive map, through a link present on their website, called Maplink. For large chains, such as Banks/ATMS/Hotels, MapmyIndia provides technology and product to show all their locations on a searchable, interactive map right from their Web Site, called the Enterprise/Store Locator.

MapmyIndia will also be providing business listings, a location-based Yellow Pages, that helps users see for example, what all restaurants are in an area of New Delhi, and where exactly each of these are. “Businesses prosper by being able to instantly show their online as well as physical location,” says Verma.

Meanwhile, maps are being added everyday, and more and more cities will be shown in detail. Level 4 to level 1 are really provided to show street-level detail for cities, and so, rural areas will not have that amount of detail. 

“We are also looking into providing car-based mapping systems, as well as vehicle tracking systems, and these are on the drawing board right now,” he adds.

Mapping the crazy maze of roads across the length and breadth of India was certainly a Herculean task, admits Verma. “It is most definitely the biggest obstacle. What CE Info possesses today, is completely mind-boggling. The depth and breadth of their map data is unparalleled.”

“And of course, building the site has its own challenges,” he adds. “Offering a seamless service to the public has tremendous pressures attached with it. There can’t be even a small mistake, and we had to constantly work and still have to, to keep the bugs and glitches out.”

But challenges and obstacles give young Verma the drive to go on. 

“During the production of MapmyIndia, I was pretty much eating, sleeping and breathing MapmyIndia. Ideas would come to me at night, and there would be times when I would want to forego meals just to get past some hurdles we were facing.”

Born in Minneapolis, Verma’s family (parents, and elder sister) moved to Delhi when he was five. He returned to the US last year when he joined Stanford University to pursue a BS in Electrical Engineering.

Last year, he was awarded the Best Work Study Student Award by the Stanford University Registrar for making the Stanford Bulletin website more accessible and Internet friendly. He was also awarded the President’s Award for Academic Excellence in the Freshman Year for academic initiative and good performance.

But it is not all technology for this young man. In school, he was involved with dance, dramatics and public speaking. “Dance is my biggest passion, and I’ve been learning jazz dance for the past five years now,” he says with passion. “I even played Rum-Tum-Tugger of the musical CATS, in one fabulous reproduction of the musical in New Delhi. At Stanford, I’m part of the Hindi Film Dance team, and our team came second in the West-Coast HFD competition held at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco last year.”

And yes, he loves food of all kinds! 

“Career-wise MapmyIndia is my foray into entrepreneurship,” he says. “This experience has taught me the highs and lows as well as how to begin and carry-through a start-up. In the future I hope to be involved deeply with the integrated circuits/chip industry and I feel I am learning a lot of things that will help me in my future endeavors.”

“Keep tuned, and spread the word about MapmyIndia!,” he says. “We offer a great free service, meant to empower individuals, businesses, travelers, tourists, NRIs as well as local residents. The more people get to know about it, the more it will benefit them!”