Westbourne Studios-based universal addressing start-up, what3words, has notched up yet another triumph on the world stage - at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The company's award-winning technology has been incorporated into official Games transport app RioGo, and is aiding security teams through a partnership with satellite imaging firm DigitalGlobe.

The world is your oyster.playground.backyard

Inspired by co-founder Chris Sheldrick's difficulties directing guests to exact venue locations when he ran a music event company, what3words offers a more memorable alternative to GPS co-ordinates.

It divides the earth’s surface into 57 trillion 3 metre squares and uses an algorithm to allocate three words from a total vocabulary of 40,000 to each - simpler words for city centres, longer ones for the oceans.

In Rio, for instance, the head of the Christ the Redeemer statue is at mistaken.maybe.moon. Joke.sensual.released is on Copocabana beach, and as Andy Murray ran to the net in the tennis stadium, he would have passed through scars.award.somebody.

Working towards a global standard

what3words' applications range from navigating festival sites, to a travel tool, to supporting postal systems and aid programmes. The system has been translated into ten languages so far and the company has a lengthy roster of partners including UN agencies and the British Museum. Recently, Giffgaff teamed up with it to launch a Pokemon Go mapping tool.

Chris SheldrickCo-founder, what3words

 

"We are working to become a global standard, so it's important to get into as many apps as possible,” explains Sheldrick, with regard to the link-up with RioGo. The App enables Games visitors to pinpoint meeting spots and the correct stadium entrance as well as navigate round town.

Meanwhile the company's matrix slots in with DigitalGlobe’s 3D modelling to enable security chiefs to share locations with field staff and the emergency services. These two applications build on the company's previous presence in Rio: a partnership with co-operative Carteiro Amigo which uses what3words to rationalise mail delivery in the Rochina favela.

From the Maracanã to Mongolia

"Rio is a great example as some parts are addressed well, other very badly" says Sheldrick. The Olympics has the added function of maximising outreach. "Our goal is to help all parts of society and all parts of the world, wherever people struggle with addresses… It’s a great opportunity to get what3words into the hands of lots of people who will then be using it in their native country".

Sheldrick missed out on the Games - he's just returned from Mongolia where Mongol Post has taken a licence to offer w3w addressing across the country.

Tie-ups with three further national post services are coming. The company recently closed $8.5 million Series B funding, having previously raised $5 million.

Home comforts

Fittingly, perhaps, office space and the right address are very important to Sheldrick and his colleagues. They've been Workspace customers for over two years, based in Westbourne Studios throughout.

"It's great, we really love the environment", says Sheldrick. "West London isn't known for tech, but we feel we have a really good position. We're near people we actually do business with".

Unlike peers who began in conventional co-working space and needed to look elsewhere as they grew, what3words has enjoyed Workplace’s flexibility. "We've been in our office since day one. When we expand, we'll just take over more space within Workspace".

Westbourne Studios is a thriving community of incredible talent; production houses meet jewellery designers over coffee, while investment managers invite music producers across for beer Friday.

Nestled under the Westway, in what has to be one of the only buildings with a motorway for a roof in London, Westbourne Studios oozes character, and really has to be experienced to be believed. If you'd like to get a feel for what working life is like here, please don't hesitate to click here to arrange a viewing of our available spaces.