In May 2018 TomTom announced the launch of its TomTom Camper sat nav ‘specifically developed to help explorers to travel worry-free, knowing that they are on the best road for their camper’. The navigator had lots of new bells and whistles, including Camper and Caravan World maps, which help make sure that you’re driving on the right road suited for vehicle type, size, weight, and speed.
It also includes camper-specific POIS such as camping sites along your route. With revenue approaching El billion per year, the company has come a long way since 1991, when TomTom was founded and began a journey that would change the way people drive forever.
Harold Goddijn and Corinne Vigreux, the company’s founders, married for more than two decades, are the co-founders of the satellite navigation device that has come to define the sector.
Vigreux studied at a Paris business school, starting out at a French games firm before moving to the UK to Psion, then an FTSE 100 technology company famed for its handheld PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).
Goddijn read economics at Amsterdam University and while working for a venture capital firm came across some of Psion’s handheld computers and organizers and was impressed. He approached Psion suggesting a joint distribution venture selling the company’s products in the Netherlands.
Vigreux was sent to the Netherlands to negotiate with Goddijn, the first time the pair had met. They married in 1991 and Vigreux resigned from Psion and moved to Amsterdam.
A brief spell working for a Dutch dairy cooperative saw Vigreux suffering from technology withdrawal symptoms. With software wizards Peter-Frans Pauwels and Pieter Geelen, she started Palmtop Software, later to become TomTom, designing software such as dictionaries, accounting packages, and diet books that could be loaded onto Palm Pilots and Pocket PCs.
In late 1998 Goddijn and Vigreux saw a navigation system built for a computer and gradually the idea took shape. Three years and €4 million later the quartet had created the TomTom, launching it at €799. Even at this price, it was far cheaper than existing products and superior in that it featured a touch screen, a first for the sector.
The year after launch the company floated, selling 50 percent of the business to fund the growth and acquisition. But 2008 saw them hit turbulence. The credit crunch, market saturation, a high level of debt, and Google starting to offer maps for free represented more serious problems in a single year than many faces in a lifetime.
The company restructured, reduced debt, and now generates half its revenue from selling licenses to their maps, constructing in-built systems for the car industry, and telematics.
TomTom Telematics is now recognized as a leading provider of telematics solutions with over 350,000 subscriptions worldwide. In 2013 TomTom launched its own branded GPS sport watches to help runners, cyclists, and swimmers keep moving towards their fitness goals, by providing essential performance information at a glance. The company now employs 3,600 people and is a globally recognized brand.
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