Footwork leads the Series A in the collaborative mapping platform enabling anyone to create and think in maps.
Software at the intersection of creation, design, and collaboration has long been of personal interest, having invested in the Seed round of Canva in 2014, Series A of Frame.io in 2016, Seed of Kapwing in 2018, Seed of Roam in 2020, and watching companies I wish I had invested in, such as Figma, Miro, and Notion, grow explosively over the past few years. These companies are changing the way people work and live, democratizing access to creation for the masses through modern software, and their businesses span across both consumer and enterprise as a result.
At Footwork, we’ve been on the hunt since Day 1 for the next investment to make in this theme, and that’s why, when I stumbled on Can Duruk’s announcement of his new company, Felt, in his newsletter, I knew I had to learn more. He described Felt as “the best place on the internet to make maps,” which, as someone who grew up across three continents, often absorbed in the geographies and routes of new places, piqued my interest. But then when I realized what that meant — enabling anyone to create a map, working with datasets that can be overlayed on maps, with easy sharing and real-time collaboration built into the platform — I got very excited. After a failed Twitter DM, a kind text nudge from lead Seed investor Aaref Hilaly, and a successful LinkedIn message, my partner Mike and I got to meet Can and his co-founder Sam Hashemi at their office in Oakland, see the product in action, hear their vision for what Felt can become, and knew very quickly that we had to find a way to invest.
We’re delighted to announce Felt’s $15M Series A today, led by Footwork, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, Moxxie Ventures, Designer Fund, Will Larson, Yves Behar, Guillermo Rauch, Julianna Lamb, Uma Chingunde, Scott Belsky, Emery Wells, Dylan Field, Akshay Kothari, John Lilly, Allison Pickens, and others. The product launched publicly today — check it out over at felt.com — and the company wrote a blog post with more info on its story. More also in this piece by Natasha Mascarenhas in TechCrunch.
Felt is the largest initial investment we’ve made in Footwork Fund I. So beyond our excitement about this category of software, and our initial reaction to the concept, what gives us so much conviction in this decision? Here are three reasons:
1. Large Market That Will Expand
First, we believe the market opportunity in reinventing mapping software is enormous. Making and using maps is critical to many people’s daily jobs, in industries ranging from construction to education to media to municipal government, and yet the software they use is stuck in the past. ESRI, the leading player in mapping software, does billions of dollars in annual revenue. But it was founded in 1969, is built on legacy technology, doesn’t enable sharing or collaboration, and is so hard to use that most organizations have dedicated GIS analysts, trained on ESRI’s ArcGIS, to perform mapping tasks. Felt can unlock the latent demand for mapping that isn’t served by ESRI today, and improve the lives of existing ESRI users by bringing them into a platform that’s built for the 2020s. And, as we confront a changing world due to the climate crisis, geopolitical instability, and technology that can image and measure the earth on a real-time basis, mapping will only become more useful and critical.
2. Network Effects
Second, the network effects inherent in this product lead to a better user experience and a competitive advantage for the business. Inside of organizations, Felt is built to be the home for maps, where they can be shared and worked on together by teammates. But maps are often shared externally, to partners or customers or to the public. And as every new user joins Felt, the product benefits not just from the direct network effects embedded in the multiplayer experience of mapping, but from the data network effects that come from data layers and templates that will get built into the product, to make it more usable for more use cases over time. Every map can tell a story, and no one has enabled the map to be a canvas for storytelling until Felt.
3. The Dream Team
Third, and most importantly, we feel the ultimate dream team has been assembled to take this on. Sam is a masterful designer and second-time entrepreneur, having previously co-founded and served as the CEO of Remix, a transportation planning software company that scaled up to 350+ cities in 17 countries and was one of the largest software acquisitions in 2021. He saw first-hand the opportunity for a better way to make maps while working with hundreds of city governments, and teamed up with Can, a fellow Carnegie Mellon grad and an early engineer at Uber and Digg, to start Felt. Their founder-market fit could not be more perfect, and they’ve set about recruiting all-stars to the journey. The Felt team today is 15 people, working around the world (from Oakland and Hawaii to Canada and Spain), across engineering, cartography, design, and data curation.
We couldn’t be more excited to have a front row seat as Felt builds the world’s first consumer-grade mapping platform, democratizes access to the creation and consumption of maps, and enables anyone to use the map as the canvas for ideas and stories. The team shares more of their great work through their blog, Twitter and GitHub, and if you’re interested in joining us, please reach out.