MapStand's Journey: from London to Sheffield's tech hub

MapStand's Journey: from London to Sheffield's tech hub

Since its inception in 2015 to its recent move to Sheffield Technology Parks, MapStand's journey is one of overcoming challenges, embracing change, and seizing opportunities.

Geologist and co-founder of MapStand, Francis Cram wanted to shine a light on the ‘opaque’ global oil and gas industry. "We thought it was a good business idea," he reflected, "to build a global, free open dataset that would throw a light on and bring greater transparency to a big, important industry that is generally very secretive.”

However, MapStand’s route to success was not straightforward. The London-based startup began to gain traction after its first product launch in December 2019, then COVID-19 struck. Forced to pivot and refocus on energy transition pathways, MapStand set out in a new direction, shedding their London office and becoming fully remote.

Coinciding with this move, Francis and his family made the big decision to move from London to the Peak District, after spending the initial 10-week ‘lockdown’ period with family in Castleton.

“We just had the best time ever,” he remembers, “When we went back home, life just wasn't the same anymore. I was commuting to London and thinking to myself: ‘what the hell are we doing here?’. We got our house on the market and moved up to the Peak District as quickly as we could.”

As the company entered a new phase of growth, Francis was keen to rebuild company culture and facilitate team collaboration, all of which he knew needed a physical base.

MapStand made a strategic decision to set down roots in Sheffield and Sheffield Technology Parks provided the ideal setting. Located in the heart of the city with excellent transport links, a busy and vibrant community, and close proximity to two universities, our central role in the tech ecosystem helped to mitigate some of the risks Francis identified around moving here.

“It was a risk in a sense, setting up in Sheffield. We do quite niche work and finding the people that we need is risky, it’s actually the key risk to our business,” he explains. “However, since we got our office in February, we've hired two new people and have had two students from Sheffield Business School carrying out project work with us throughout April.

“Straightaway we’ve been able to engage with the Universities and I’m hoping we can access high quality graduates to support our future growth.”

Having seen for himself the quality of life that Sheffield offers, Francis is confident that the city will continue to draw in more skilled and ambitious people who are looking for greater work-life balance, commenting:

“There are lots of people not going down to London to find the big jobs, they're actually looking for a good lifestyle up here. Sheffield is not a second rate city by any means, it’s an absolute first rate city with high quality people living here.”

MapStand was also supported by The Tech Welcome Grant which helped them to secure office space at the Tech Parks and accelerate their recruitment efforts. "Having the physical office space really helps with recruitment," Francis notes, emphasising the importance of providing a tangible workspace for prospective hires. “People are coming in and they can see where they'll be working and who they're working alongside. Most of the candidates we spoke to said they were sick of working from home. The reason they were looking for a new job is that they wanted to go somewhere, they wanted to meet people and have a more social kind of experience.”

MapStand is poised for further growth and expansion. With plans for future fundraising and a focus on talent acquisition, the company is set to really make its mark in Sheffield, whilst influencing positive change in a global industry. You can find out more about MapStand on the website:

News / Podcasts / Events