Today's Featured BizSpark Startup is MAPCITE from the United Kingdom.
Adam Stevens thought that if he could make data so visually appealing that the data owners could instantly see all the possibilities residing within it, it might make for a great little startup company. He was right.
Adam Stevens is about as casual and laid-back as you can get. He works in the countryside of England, far from the fast-paced trappings of a big city. He and his partners are entering their fourth year of business, which began as an ‘aha’ moment during one of Stevens’ forays into examining business data.
“Mapping business data isn’t really very exciting,” he admits. “It typically resides in spreadsheets that are number-heavy, with programs like Excel able to turn the numbers into static graphs and charts.”
But at MAPCITE, data jumps up and dances - it’s so visually appealing that a data owner can instantly see all the possibilities within it. Initially building MAPCITE as a free add-in for Microsoft Excel, the company made standard charts and graphs more visually appealing by using location intelligence.
Consider a retail floor plan, for example. On a piece of paper, it’s just lines and circles. With MAPCITE's web-mapping technology, that floor plan comes to life by layering the plan on a Bing map. It’s accurate and to scale, and can show readers a quick visualization of the relationships between areas, rooms, spaces and other physical features on each level of a structure. Add in MAPCITE's heat mapping, animation and thematic mapping tools and suddenly readers can clearly see hot spots, bottle necks, low foot fall areas – all kinds of things that just weren’t visible on a simple, one-dimensional floor plan.
“It’s trick to uncover usable data buried deep within numerous pages of spreadsheets because,” says Stevens, “people often just don’t realize what they should be looking for. And it’s what they don’t see that’s costing them money. We’re just bringing the data to life for them.”
Stevens credits early progress in the company to MAPCITE's acceptance into the Microsoft BizSpark startup program.
“We made an early decision was to build on the Microsoft stack,” he says. “It sort of takes away the pain of deployment because most of our clients already have that infrastructure.”
MAPCITE’s location and business intelligence technology integrates with Microsoft SharePoint, has Excel add-ins and leverages the Dynamics, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 mobile platforms. And, because a key requirement from all of MAPCITE’s customers, says Stevens, is the continual availability of their data and the speed in which it is delivered to their desktop or mobile device, the company decided to use Microsoft Azure.
“We went with Azure for the simple fact that our customers’ businesses can exist in a single technological infrastructure that will ramp up and down with their demands. Azure lets us take a whole level of planning out of the equation,” says Stevens. “It’s highly scalability and offers high availability at all times.”
MAPCITE has even deployed an Azure hosted application to a global office services company which uses it within its customer contact center. They also released an additional web application for specific initiatives to the client.
“The scalability of Azure made this release extremely easy to manage,” says Stevens.
After just four years in business, MAPCITE boasts global client such as NASA, GM, Atlas Steel, Levi’s, South African Airways and many, many more. Not a shabby list for a ‘little’ startup in the English countryside!
Microsoft is helping these startups succeed through its BizSpark program. To join or see other startup stories, visit us at our website here. To listen to our startups, check out these podcasts on devradio here.
About BizSpark: Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps startups succeed by giving free access to Microsoft Azure cloud services, software and support. BizSpark members receive up to $750 per month of free Microsoft Azure cloud services for 3 years: that’s $150 per month each for up to 5 developers. Azure works with Linux and open-source technologies such as Linux, Ruby, Python, Java and PHP. BizSpark is available to startups that are privately held, less than 5-years-old and earn less than $1M in annual revenue.