Nigerians who attended the Corporate Nigeria Stakeholders’ an Investment Forum sponsored by the Delta State Government in the United Nations, New York, last Monday were proud to hear Apple Inc may have paid millions of dollars to Chinedu Echeruo chairman and founder of HopStop.com, a company that offers an online city transit guide with door-to-door, and bus directions and maps for over 500 cities around the world using its website.
|Mr Chinedu Echeruo|
HopStop was named one of the 100 fastest growing software companies in the United States in 2011 and was purchased by Apple last month, dropping support for Windows, a few days later.
Apple’s new mapping software which debuted last September with iPhone 5 has been criticised for its lack of public transportation directions and often owners of the new phone end up getting lost relying on the map.
However with Echeruo’s HopStop, navigating beyond 500 cities of the world and in the United States including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington D.C. and beyond, it is possible to travel with ease by foot, bike, the subway and car.
It deploys real-time data from a variety of sources to help users find featured businesses, find attractions, bars, restaurants, hotels, shopping areas, with guides for planning a trip with multiple destinations, plus a guide on cities and custom locations.
Apple has been locked in battle with Google and Samsung and since the death of Steve Jobs, founder and designer of most of Apple’s concepts, the war in the market place of ideas for the makers of the iPhone and Androids, has even grown fiercer especially after apple replaced support for Google’s maps with its own map with the introduction of its iOS6
Apple’s acquisition of HopStop, it is believed, is meant to match Google’s purchase of Israel’s Maze, which aims at boosting its mapping skills and keeping rivals apace from its lead in the mobile navigation business. The mobile app is said to solicit input from over 50 million users to improve directions and display traffic and road-hazard details.
It gladdened the heart of Nigerians to know that Echeruo was at the heart of this business transaction, said Michael Adeniyi, CEO of New York-based Simaden Capital, while addressing the forum seeking to explore the interface between Diaspora investors and such states as Delta.
Adeniyi said there were many unknown and very successful business men like Echeruo in the US wishing to come home and partner the federal and state governments but needed to be encouraged in diverse ways if something meaningful were to be derived in the investment drive.
Echeruo was also the founder of Tripology.com which he sold in 2010 to Rand McNally an American-based travel and navigation information company.
Echeruo, a partner and head of the principal investing group at Constant Capital, an investment bank with an office in West Africa, is currently working on another project that may well surpass the king’s ransom from HopStop. He is designing a one-stop shop or template for entrepreneurs who want to start a new business, what he calls a business-in-a-box that entrepreneurs can copy to customise their pet business ideas.