Dr. Peter Walde © mapegy GmbH
On 16 August 1896, George Carmack made the discovery of his life; he found a small, roundish thing, yellowish in colour, shiny and very precious. His discovery launched what would go down in history as the Gold Rush on the Klondike River. Immediately thereafter, thousands of gold diggers made their way into the deepest wilderness of Canada to seek their fortune.
Peter Walde is also a gold digger, albeit a more modern kind. Instead of standing knee-deep in the ice-cold Klondike River laboriously sifting sediment, he sits comfortably in a large beanbag in his office. In front of him, on a small table, he’s got his laptop opened. The gold Walde is searching for does not lie at the bottom of a river; it lies in the expanse of the Internet. And the state-of-the-art gold-panning tray he’s using is actually a highly complex analysis and visualisation software. Indeed, with his company Mapegy, Walde is searching for global innovation data. “This is the gold we’re digging for”, says the 39-year-old. This data includes patent applications, case studies, scholarly articles, press materials and social media information, all of which are collected and analyzed. For what purpose? “In business, decisions have to made quickly and effectively. We’re all about supporting experts in their decision-making”, explains Walde, who most recently worked at VW in the ‘Future Studies’ unit.
These choices are not flippant matters relating to whether we want bubbles in our water or not. These are decisions that can have long-term effects on a company. They can lead to success or failure, to investments or job cuts. In order to be able to make a the right decisions – that is, decisions based on more than just one’s “gut feeling” – companies need a sound foundation. They need knowledge about technologies, trends and key players. Using its analysis and visualisation software, Mapegy is able to provide this knowledge. “We’re like a compass for the high-tech world”, explains the Bautzen native. For example, the Mapegy database makes it possible to access 150 patent offices, 6,000 scientific publishing houses and 60,000 media sources. It also contains more than one million organisation profiles and five million expert profiles.
The company was founded five years ago, and the original idea for the firm came to Walde in the bistro section of a German ICE train. Back then, he was commuting back and forth daily between Berlin’s Zoo Station and Wolfsburg. “The spin-off was difficult,” Walde remembers. Originally, the company was supposed to become a part of VW. “It’s quite exciting to get to know such a large corporation. But over time, I realised it wasn’t for me”, he remembers. Walde gathered his courage and started again from scratch. Together with two friends, he founded Mapegy, and in the process “learned a lot and, of course, made a lot of mistakes”. One decision he never regretted was choosing a site in Charlottenburg near the Technische Universität (TU) for his company. “That was the best decision, no question”.
For some people, the Klondike is a river in Canada. For others, that river is flowing directly through the City West district of Berlin.