Online maps allow you to track so much today — restaurants in certain neighborhoods, locations of supermarkets or the closest casino.
But what if you want to look inside that restaurant, supermarket or casino?
That’s the promise of Cartogram, a 17-month-old Kirkland startup that just scored $250,000 in seed financing. Led by Will Stryker Clausen and Krishnan Gopalan, the 7-person startup is rolling out live interactive maps that let users peer deeply into locations such as the Wynn casino in Las Vegas or the Bellevue Regional Library.
According to Clausen, the biggest issue today with indoor maps is that they are “flat, lifeless images which aren’t fun to use and provide little utility to the end-user.”
“We’ve created a system that allows the indoor maps to be updated, right on your smartphone, with simple drag and drop controls to edit the content inside of buildings — which changes frequently,” said the 29-year-old Clausen. “Products, people, beacons, labels, icons — really anything can be added to the maps and updated on our servers in minutes.”
Here’s more from Clausen in our latest segment of our Startup Spotlight feature:
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Cartogram helps people find things indoors with live, interactive, searchable indoor maps on your smartphone or tablet.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Cartogram actually started as a mobile service for sharing indoor location with people nearby. It is such a headache to find coworkers at lunch or to meet someone new in a large crowded place, particularly when three or more people are involved and the destination isn’t well-known in advance. In order to share indoor location, we needed high-quality, easily-maintainable and customizeable indoor maps. After finding no options — and a total absence of indoor search engines — we validated the need for an easier way to ‘Find Things Indoors’ with some well-known businesses… and Cartogram was born.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Our CEO bankrolled us for over a year. Then, once we started engaging with our pilot partners, there was an immediate need for additional capital to support their business needs. In January 2015, we closed an angel round with Gary Rubens at Start It Labs. Gary is an awesome fit for Cartogram because of his extensive background in retail (which is one of our target markets) as well as his experience with early-stage companies.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Indoor maps that people actually enjoy exploring combined with what we believe is the best indoor map management system available for businesses. Indoor location technology is not just about a floorplan… Nobody looks for a staircase or a wall — those are just a means to an end. People want to find the ever-changing elements inside of those maps, like products, people, activities, and events.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “We recognized the need for indoor search and invested heavily to create the tools for businesses to keep their indoor maps up-to-date. This is the key for businesses to get a return on investment with Cartogram while providing the best possible experience to customers.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We didn’t get into the beacon space as soon as we should have, but that’s not such a bad thing. 2014 was a great year to kick off our indoor positioning and navigation products.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “This is so hard… but we would take Zuckerberg. He is from the “Facebook generation.” More importantly: Facebook could really use our indoor search and indoor location sharing technology.
Rivals should fear us because: “We don’t want to put a message out there about how others should fear us. There is a lot of room for collaboration and partnership in the indoor location space.”
We are truly unique because: “In many cases, we can on-board a venue of a business, including indoor maps, content, multiple floors, millions of products within 48 hours. That map will stay up-to-date, because we provide businesses the fastest, most intuitive indoor map management tools on the market.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “We’ve created a scalable indoor location service that both businesses and end-users love. Scale was really challenging to get right.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Get a mentor (or two). It is often the case that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’ The opportunity to learn about potential pitfalls in advance from someone who has led a successful startup could make or break your company.”