Stephen Constantine developed YouMap to combat political issues, hoping to amplify the voice of those leading social change and adding color to the stories that people should be hearing.
The solution was to provide a Human Atlas— a map that could be used as a digital playground for the masses. In this digital playground, every post is mapped and can be filtered by channels with patented emoji technology helping to tell a story as quickly and as vividly as possible.
We interviewed with Stephen regarding his path in tech, favorite inspirations, and projects for upcoming technology.
Where do you consider to be home? Is there a specific place that inspired your pursuit of tech?
Technically Baltimore is home- it’s where my family is. However, I’ve lived primarily in NYC for 2 years. Even if I leave for a bit, I always end up back here in the city; it’s vibrant and dynamic and where I really feel at home.
What was the inspiration for the development of your invention?
Late one night, as I was watching Iranian political clashes unfold on Twitter, I kept thinking about a better way to communicate what was going on during these protests. The story was missing a key bit of information, and that was location. In order to completely grasp what was going on, I wanted to offer a solution that aiding in the visualization of the relevant information and emotions of the protesters.
How do you think the economy will benefit from YouMap?
I think the economy will benefit from YouMap by allowing for wide user engagement. Whether that is in the form of sharing a favorite brand, travel location, or restaurant, YouMap is built to engage the masses and get people aware of their community and surroundings. I think that the more engaged or involved people are within their communities, the more they go out and experience what the community is made up of. All these restaurants, shops, movie theaters, etc will see more traffic as a result of larger community engagement.
What role do you think sustainability should play in your industry?
These days, sustainability is on everyone’s mind- in the tech industry and beyond. The great thing about being in tech is that we are in a position to inspire and pioneer change. Sustainability should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind and it’s everyone’s responsibility to be involved. Hopefully, with our mission of connecting people within their communities, that will be used for things like sharing sustainable efforts.
Social media is the widest used method of information sharing and communication, do you think that this will change or only evolve?
I think we will continue to see more of a social media evolution than revolution. Populations have been communicating in one way or another for centuries. Sure, we use our phones instead of leaving hieroglyphics on the walls of caves these days, but the desire and need for communication remain fundamentally the same. With YouMap, we’ve taken a major step to introduce more emotional and locational aspects to the current social media landscape.
What is a current challenge for you and how would you approach it?
The biggest challenge we face is growing our user base. The classic “If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?” situation. As we all know, there are a ton of options for social media and online communities. We have a number of ways we are addressing this with inventive engagement campaigns and strategic partnerships with existing tech.
What was one thing you did that exceeded your expectations when you started YouMap?
I was able to bring on, what I think are some of the industry’s most talented designers and developers. I’ve had the opportunity to work with teams I respect a great deal and was flattered that they agreed to take on my project. Now as I transition into growing the product and business, I’m constantly impressed with how working and innovative my team is.
Technology in itself is a success. What does success mean to you? What are your rules for success?
To me, success is using technology to contribute to a healthier, more informed society. From my inspiration for the YouMap product to the day to day development and build out of its features, my team and I are learning a lot and achieving incremental successes as we work towards fine-tuning our product for the public’s’ use.
How do you handle comparisons between your innovation and that of other companies? What is one way you continue to distinguish your brand and stand apart?
Of course, there are other social mapping platforms out there, but at YouMap we take great pride in knowing we were the first to get our technology underway. Maybe not the fastest, but definitely the first. What sets us apart is our ability to execute in this space. We are building a high-quality product in a reasonable amount of time that is robust enough to be adopted worldwide within the next 6-8 months.
What advice do you have for the next up and coming tech inventor?
Maintain a constant focus on your number one priority. It’s really easy to become distracted in today’s world. Challenge yourself and if you don’t have a good reason for doing what you’re doing when you ask yourself “why am I doing this?” stop doing it.
How did you first get involved with creating social media platforms?
YouMap is my first foray into creating social media platforms, though I’ve been a longtime user of them.
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, what/who inspires you the most?
I think social media user, in general, inspire me. They are constantly driving this mission. For better or worse, it’s incredible to see how much people are willing to put out there to share with the world. Historical social movements are the foundation of YouMap. Without movers, shakers, thinkers, and doers constantly evolving society and cultures, there’d be no need for social platforms. Really, those willing to step outside of the boundaries and norms are the most inspiring of all.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have severe ADHD. Without my amazing team supporting me, I could never have made YouMap happen. They keep me grounded and on track constantly. This is just as much their baby as mine!
“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.”- Charles Kettering
Read more about Stephen and YouMap in The Fox Magazine Tech Issue on newsstands now!