Mappedin has raised CDN$8.6 million through a Series A round that will help the Waterloo-based company accelerate its ability to pursue the growing demand for digital maps of buildings and indoor spaces.
“The round here is to go faster – it’s for growth, for sales, for marketing, for product development,” said CEO and co-founder Hongwei Liu. “People are realizing that you need indoor mapping for a whole lot of stuff, and we want to be the obvious choice for all of that.”
The investment round was led by Channel Equity Partners of San Diego.
“We have been building a relationship with Mappedin for years and have deep conviction that, while outdoor mapping is largely ‘spoken for’ already, the indoor mapping space is now at a critical inflection point and Mappedin is strongly positioned to execute amidst these market tailwinds,” said Andrew Albert, Managing Partner and co-founder of Channel Equity Partners.
Liu came up with the indoor-mapping concept in 2010 while he was still an engineering student living in the University of Waterloo’s Velocity entrepreneurship residence. He and two fellow students co-founded Mappedin a year later.
The company’s apps and SaaS web-based tools help create digital maps of indoor spaces such as shopping malls, offices, stadiums, campuses and airports. Uses include wayfinding, asset and facility management, public safety, private security and logistics, among others.
According to the company, Mappedin’s solutions automate and simplify the mapping process, enabling customers to create, update, publish and deploy their indoor maps for a variety of uses. They also replace numerous paper copies of a building map with one up-to-date digital copy that can be accessed for many uses – a concept that Liu summarizes as “one map everywhere.”
“We’ve always believed that digital maps are like infrastructure,” he said. “If you own a building, you want a digital copy of it – a map – for shopper experience, for visitor experience, for security, for leasing, for logistics, for operations, for the fire department when they show up… it’s just a part of owning a building.”
When COVID-19 first struck in March 2020, Liu said he feared it would be the “doomsday scenario” for Mappedin because people were no longer going to public places like offices, malls and stadiums.
However, building owners continued to buy the company’s tools and services because they were using their digital maps for far more than wayfinding. As one customer put it, “as long as the lights are on, the maps have to work. And the building will still be there when COVID is over,” said Liu.
“That was the bet that all of our customers made,” he said. “And we’re really, really grateful to all of them because we’ve been essentially customer-financed for the last couple years and it’s a good feeling.”
Mappedin has generated a profit for the past three years, said Liu. With the Series A investment, the company plans to increase its workforce from 88 currently to “north of 110” by the end of 2023.
The availability of VC financing has been extremely tight for the past year. Liu said the Series A round was the result of a lot of hard work, but also because Mappedin wasn’t desperate for cash.
“The old adage is, the best way to raise money is to not need it, and we didn’t need the money,” he said. “We wanted a partner that wanted to help us grow faster and pursue some of the strategic initiatives that we had, and I’m thrilled to have found that partner in Andrew Albert and the people at Channel Equity Partners. That’s why we raised – it was as much about who and why. We could have always just run the business the way we have been for the last couple of years and kept going that way, and that made it easier for us (to raise).”
Mappedin has been moving beyond its origins as a “wayfinding and that app-in-the-mall company,” said Liu. It is now focusing on providing digital tools that building owners and service providers can use to leverage Mappedin’s foundational technology.
He compares it to the way companies and individuals use outdoor mapping apps such as Google Maps and Mapbox.
“Outdoor mapping is a solved problem, and the obvious move is to use an API, in this case Google or Mapbox,” he said. “Our goal now is to make it just as obvious that if you are building the same kind of applications indoors, you should use Mappedin. So that’s been our bet for the last three years, and really this round is to accelerate that.”
Mappedin also announced that industry veteran James Killick has joined the company's board of directors.