With $5M for Open-Source Mapping Tools, Boundless to Make New Hires

The market for mapping tools like geographic information systems (GIS) is pretty well established and entrenched, especially when you consider that the largest company, Esri, controls more than 40 percent of it.

Boundless Spatial, a New York-based startup that spun out of a nonprofit in 2013, has raised a Series B round of more than $5 million that it hopes can help it gain more traction in the GIS sector. Most users of GIS services are either governments or corporations, such as those in mining or aviation, that are looking to overlay data about their operations on some sort of mapping system to better analyze it.

Boundless touts itself as offering less expensive GIS software than competitors like Esri because it provides customers with free, open-source software and charges only for services it delivers, such as customizing a user’s data to better fit a map, according to Sean Brady, chief marketing officer of Boundless. Boundless offers customers contracts that range from $8,000 to $100,000, along with hourly rates that can range from $100 to $400, Brady says.

Esri charges fees for both licensing and its services, Brady says. The company lists a variety of prices for its offerings on its website, ranging from a per-day fee of a few hundred dollars to a per-user fee ($17,500 for 100 users); the company doesn’t list whether those charges are solely for the licensing fees or if they also include user support. Esri hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

“We are providing a really valuable offer that is open source software that is understandable to our customers,” Brady says. “We can do that with all the feature functionality at a much different cost equation.”

Motorola Solutions Venture Capital led the Series B round, and was joined by previous investors Vanedge Capital and In-Q-Tel. Boundless, which has about 60 employees, plans to make new hires in its engineering and sales departments.

Vanedge led a $3 million Series A round for the company in 2013, and Boundless simultaneously changed its name from OpenGeo. With that round of funding, the company spun out of OpenPlans, a nonprofit and incubator focused on urban planning that had housed the open source software since 2002.

One use for the Boundless tool might be to help government users plan who might need to be evacuated in the case of a hurricane, Brady says. As information about the hurricane’s route comes in, the government agency could use that to map out who the storm might impact and where evacuations are necessary, he says.

There are plenty of other alternative GIS mapping systems, including other open-source systems. Brady contends that Boundless’s experienced engineers, developers, and other GIS experts are the key differentiating factor between Boundless and others’ alternative systems.

The company also has offices in New Orleans, St. Louis, Massachusetts, and Victoria, British Columbia, with select employees in other areas of North and South Americas and Europe.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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