Waterloo-based MappedIn announced the close of a $1.51 million seed round today, led by Amolino with participation from select angel investors. MappedIn had recently received $600,000 in FedDev funding to offer its interactive indoor navigation system in multiple languages to help fuel international growth.
Despite landing major Canadian partners such as Brookfield Properties and Great West Life Realty, as well as Texas-based hosting provider Rackspace, international growth is still on the young company’s mind. MappedIn co-founder and CEO Hongwei Liu told BetaKit in an exclusive interview that the new funding round would be used to expand the company’s client portfolio to the UK and Asia. For his part, Liu remained extremely confident about MappedIn’s prospects.
“Our biggest differentiator is that our customers are happy. We’re cleaning up after all the other guys.”
“Our biggest differentiator is that our customers are happy and they constantly give us more business,” he said. “We’re cleaning up after all the other guys. I want as many people as possible to not make that initial mistake of going somewhere else. Because we’ve seen what’s out there, we’ve picked up the pieces when it’s failed, and I’d rather not miss out on business that we can get right away.”
Such direct and forthright statements are typical of Liu, whose no-nonsense approach can be heard in the audio of our interview below. However, Liu tempers this honesty with a deep humility and commitment to the Kitchener-Waterloo tech community that cuts through the typical startup hype echo chamber. For example, here is Liu speaking about attending the recent Velocity Fund Finals, of which he and MappedIn are alumni.
“We go back all the time and look at some of the new startups coming up,” Liu said. “And I’m constantly like ‘holy shit, these guys are doing it so much better’, or they’re executing so much better, or so much faster.”
“When we were coming up we looked up to guys like Ted from Kik and Eric from Pebble – those were our heroes. It’s pretty cool that down the road we get to pay it forward.”
Liu reinforces Velocity Director Mike Kirkup’s mantra that “the best advisor for you is someone you had six months down the road,” and admits that while the challenges a startup will face evolve over time, the process never gets easier. MappedIn’s challenges have evolved from early product development to finding customers, and then delivering upon their request for better way-finding. Today, the challenge lies in helping customers manage the data that MappedIn can produce for them.
“Everyone does something different with it,” Liu said. “It’s this gigantic sprawling problem that businesses face – every type of brick and mortar business. Ten different people doing something different with the same piece of information, and none of that feeding back centrally. That’s really the problem we’re solving for customers today.”