Point Inside’s GPS for Shoppers Grows Revenue, Looks for More Investment

8/18/11Follow @curtwoodward

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involved “grows the pie” and gives Point Inside a chance to expand its services business, Marti says.

“We realize that we might be leading the space right now, but we are also pushing them further and further in this direction,” he says.

The need for a separate indoor location mapping infrastructure is based on a pretty basic problem: Satellite signals and radio towers can’t get inside buildings enough to map things down to the aisle-by-aisle specificity that Point Inside is looking for. But once detailed maps of a mall or retail store are created and uploaded, Point Inside can use a store’s existing wireless networks to communicate with smartphones and track a shopper’s location.

Once you have that platform enabled, a lot of interesting things become possible—perhaps most importantly from a retailer’s perspective, it’s an entirely new advertising channel. And Point Inside can blend information about where a store displays its merchandise to deliver coupons, loyalty rewards, and other offers right when a shopper is in the area.

So, say you’re shopping for cereal, and the store buzzes your phone to alert you that there’s currently a sale on milk—that’s possible with Point Inside’s platform. Those are exactly the projects that Point Inside wants to tackle with the money from its latest—and still open—round of fundraising, which stands at about $800,000 of a potential $2 million round of debt and options, according to an SEC filing this week.

Point Inside also has its own mobile apps, but the majority of its business is aimed at providing data and services to retailers. The company has about 24 full-time employees right now, and about a dozen more contractors. Its previous fundraising totaled about $1.3 million, Marti says, led by Silicon Valley-area angel investor Herb Madan, who is a board member.

Jumping into a developing field has its share of challenges for a small startup. Marti recently told thewherebusiness.com that “frankly, six months ago Point Inside was struggling to find its voice.” He told me that was a natural process of zeroing in on the company’s prime target in retail, and distilling its elevator pitch. But he says those struggles were worth it, and worth having even ahead of a final product.

“Our recommendation is—and thankfully it’s now possible—for startups to not get stuck in this development, ‘it’s got to be perfect’ mentality. We subscribe to the whole mentality of ship early, and ship often,” Marti says. “And if you stick to that, then the market will dictate to you where you should be heading.”

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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