Wifarer’s Smartphone App Makes Sense of the Great Indoors

6/12/12Follow @xconomy

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how much signage, maps and pamphlets can be provided, and how many languages can fit on a single sign. With Wifarer, users have maps on their phones that plot location in real time, as well as provide routes to get people where they need to go.

For venues like shopping centers and museums, the appeal is providing visitors with contextualized information and real-time dynamic offers. “The marketing opportunities in the system are quite profound,” Stanger says. “We can actually trigger events once you’re in store. It does offer a lot of flexibility.”

So far, Wifarer has focused on partnering with venues, and relied on in-space marketing like posters, social media, and floor-clings to market to potential users. And the company has made sure to make it easy for consumers, so that they only have to download the Wifarer app once, no matter which partner venue they happen to be in. So if a user downloads the app at a given airport, the same app will work at a partner museum in a foreign country—they simply have to turn it on so that it automatically downloads content for the new location. “It’s in response to data that shows people just don’t download venue-specific apps,” Stanger says.

The software is free for users, and the company charges venue for its system. According to Stanger, venues like airports and convention centers are looking for ways to deal with way finding and engagement issues, and have the budgets to pay for the product. Down the road, the company will likely explore models that are more retail-oriented, and possibly include more targeted advertising.

There are a lot of companies in the space, and Stanger expects that the overall industry will be a large one. Google, for example, has been working on way-finding software, but Stanger believes their model, which often relies on third-party advertising, will be a turn-off to retailers and other venues that would not want to relinquish control over advertising. “We’ve found that venues are very cognizant of possible business models,” he says. “We would give them a similar service, but they could control it.”

Stanger expects that the company will also be in the market for Series A funding in the not-too-distant future, though for now Dengler is bankrolling the company.

Currently, the co-founders are focused on rolling out the technology to those 400 venues waiting in the pipeline. “We bridging that nexus between the physical and digital world,” he says. “In these terms, it’s kind of an augmented reality.”

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