In this episode of the Mapscaping Podcast, we had the pleasure of speaking with Sam Hashemi, the CEO and co-founder of Felt, a browser-based mapping tool that is making waves in the geospatial community. Felt is not just another mapping tool; it’s a platform that’s revolutionizing the way we interact with geospatial data, thanks to its unique “upload anything” feature.
The “Upload Anything” Feature:
Felt’s “upload anything” button is a game-changer. It allows users to upload any data without specifying the type, and the system figures out the data on the backend. This feature sets Felt apart from traditional mapping tools, which often require users to specify the type of data they are uploading. The “upload anything” feature is a testament to Felt’s mission to make mapping more accessible and user-friendly, reducing the technical barriers often associated with geospatial data handling.
Felt’s Contribution to Open Source Projects:
Felt is not just about creating a user-friendly mapping tool; it’s also about giving back to the community. Felt is the first and only flagship sustaining member of the QGIS project. They are building an open-source tiling engine called Tippecanoe and also support Proto maps and the development of PM tiles. They contribute code to MapLibre and GDAL as well.
The Genesis of Felt:
Sam Hashemi, a product designer by profession, started Felt after noticing the difficulty in creating a basic map, let alone a complex one. While there were powerful desktop software like QGIS and Esri, there was no modern, fun, and playful tool on the internet. This led to the creation of Felt, aiming to be the Google Sheets for maps.
Felt aims to make map creation fun, playful, and delightful. They believe in increasing the “GDP of maps,” i.e., the number of maps created every year, by making the process more accessible and enjoyable. They envision a world where many more people are creating many more maps because it’s fun, creative, and useful in their day-to-day lives.
Felt’s Business Model:
Starting in 2024, Felt will charge a monthly fee for using the software. However, there will always be a free tier for consumers. They take privacy seriously and do not sell or look at user data.
Felt is still in its early stages, having launched the company two years ago and the software one year ago. They are starting to see exciting ways people are using the software and believe they are at the beginning of something big. As Sam Hashemi puts it, “If I was to impress one thing upon your viewers, it’s Felt. It’s free, go to felt.com and you can sign up and try it. No need to listen to my words or think about it, go feel it in your hands, go get that Felt experience.” So, why not give Felt a try and experience the future of geospatial mapping?