WebSummit report: Waze interview

40 million drivers use Waze to map their trip and navigate their way about. As well as having a user facing app, Waze has a data business which helps traffic authorities deal with traffic management, starting with the ‘Carmaggeddon’ incident in LA in 2011. Most major TV traffic reporting in the US now relies on Waze, which is sold to consumers in in-car devices such as radios, but will shortly be incorporated into a car model in a launch due later this year.

This is a great idea and a great example of a platform that could converge with a number of trends: crowdsourcing, internet of things, big data, among others. Waze is also a great example of the love affair between Americans and their cars, being used to solve traffic challenges not just like carmaggedon, but also fuel availability after hurricane Sandy. But it’s not just in the states, Waze has more than 10 million users in europe.

Some questions from Mike: what are some of the lessons Waze has learned in their entrepreneurial journey? Flexibility: it’s nice to have a grand vision but it doesn’t really affect the day to day which is often a very short horizon of visibility.

How to get through the noise and stand out as a start up? ‘You don’t have to do what the others are doing, and it’s more and more expensive to do so. So try something different.’

Interestingly, Waze doesn’t see itself as a Silicon Valley Insider, maybe because they have spent more time with their heads down building the business than building the corporate profile. But as the business continues to grow, no doubt the Valley will take Waze to its heart.