MappedIn is a start-up founded at Velocity in Waterloo. It was founded in May 2010. The four co-founders of the famous start-up include Leander Lee, Mitchell Butler, and Hongwei Liu.
Hongwei Liu is currently the CEO of the start-up that currently operates in downtown Kitchener. Their current office is located at 305 King Street in Kitchener, Ontario.
MappedIn is an interactive indoor navigation system. It can be downloaded on your smart phone or can be found as a touchscreen kiosk. In more detail, it’s a “point-to-point mapping and navigation platform for indoor locations.”
The gap between outdoor and indoor navigation is what led to the creation of MappedIn. There’s number technologies available to navigate the outdoors such as Google Maps, GPS systems and just the internet in general. None of this was available for indoor navigation.
By 2014, MappedIn was already serving more than a quarter of the major shopping malls in Canada. Their impressive list of clients includes Cadillac Fairview, Ivanhoé Cambridge, Cineplex, Canadian Tire and SportChek. One of their biggest clients is Simon Property Group, one of the largest retailers in the United States. Simon owns 110 malls and 70 premium outlet malls.
The co-founders didn’t know each other until moved into the Velocity Residence in the summer of 2010. Hongwei Liu admits the only reason he applied to live at the residence is for the air conditioning.
Within their first week there, they started working on their start up idea. By the second week, their idea was known by those living at the residence.
A year later, they had already found their first customer. They delivered their first kiosk three months after their initial demo. It was delivered in November 2011. Their customer was Sandra Stone, general manager of Conestoga Mall in Waterloo. Their demo to Stone only last 10 minutes, but was enough to make an impression.
MappedIn pitched in the Venture Fund Final at Velocity back in November 2011. They were one of four winners of the $25,000 grand prize. In addition to the money, they received start-up space, mentorship and resources to get their start-up going.
The grant money they won allowed them to work on the company full-time from the Velocity workspace. This was beneficial to them as the work/coop routine made is difficult to work on the start up.
The Waterloo start up has been seen on Dragon’s Den. Back in 2012, Hongwei Liu and his co-founder, Desmond Choi pitched their start up funding hoping to secure a deal. They were offered investment opportunities from all the Dragons; they made a deal with three out of five of them. Despite the opportunity, off the air they declined the offers as “the deal was not for [them].”
A prominent supporter they found was a company called Esri Canada, which is mapping software company.
MappedIn develops their own data and software to use. Their software can be used on digital kiosks at the location or an app can be downloaded onto your smartphone, desktop, or tablet.
The indoor map is viewed completely in a 3D model and with the use of digital maps. The maps are easy to maintain and allow for real time updates and changes, so the information is always updated. People such as store managers and facility managers can contribute to keep the 3D maps updated.
Back in 2010, Liu discussed making MappedIn capable of allowing shoppers to find specific products and be directed to that store, be able to view products on sale, views flights at airports and which terminal they are at, or allowing students to view which lectures taking place in which classroom.
“MappedIn currently has 35 employees and plans to hire 10 more in the near future. It expects to have about 50 employees by year’s end.”
The company hires a lot of interns and is rated highly on GlassDoor as a “great place to work.” Moreover, everyone that reviewed that company also approved of the CEO and would recommend the company to a friend.