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Last week we all lived in the city of angels: Or at least 20 of Norway’s top startups did because Systemapic and 19 others had been selected to participate in Angel Challenge 2015! Angel Challenge was an event put on by Startup Norway to help facilitate the process of linking Norway’s top startups with 1.25 million NOK and 25 of Norway’s most generous Angel Investors. We applied and were fortunate to have been chosen as one of those startups, but the team has built a great cloud-based GIS platform so maybe we made a bit of our own luck? Time will tell.
Angel Challenge was at minimum a two day event for the 20 candidates. The 5 best after the two day event went on to due diligence and finalization rounds with the Angel Investors. Truly exciting stuff. Sort of like a Hunger Games for Norwegian entrepreneurs. We call the role of Katniss (or at least Peeta). Let the games begin!
Day One, Wednesday Oct 21, 2015 (aka #backtothefutureday) kicked off at 10 AM with information about the event and selection criteria outlined by a representing Angel Investor, Thomas Berglund (a group we’d acronymize as AI but they’re all 100% human we think). Following the briefing and the first look at our competition we moved into the really productive stuff. From noon through to the first evening select teams of the investors worked with each startup and helped us hone our pitches to be delivered night 1 to the entire 25-person Angel Investor group.
Our specific advice was to be a bit more commercial as we are such a product focused group and to let investors know about the good work we’ve done acquiring beta pilot customers. We have a concrete plan for moving forward with our pilot customers and its important to let potential investors know this. Everyone on the team found the feedback helpful.
But helpful advice is worthless if you don’t put it into practice. Our CEO and rockstar frontman Jørgen Ekvoll and our CTO Knut Ole Sjøli tweaked the pitch deck and for the first evening of Angel Challenge we headed to Kunstnernes Hus down by the Castle for a nice dinner courtesy of Startup Norway and the main event – the 20 pitches!
They did not disappoint. There were some truly fascinating entrepreneurs in the group, far too many to mention. Some of the highlights for us were Startup Lab’s own Vio Media, an NTNU-born Oslo-based company who is working to change the digital journalism scene in Norway, an ingenious hammock and outdoors equipment company called Amok, a new streaming service to get artists to interact more with fans called feat.fm and of course our own pitch where Jørgen enlightened a couple dozen interested investors on the future of the GIS industry and slipped some colorful language and imagery in in his own consistently colorful style. It was a hit.
After we had a fascinating discussion post-pitches with an investor, Olav Sylthe (@olavsylthe), who has a wealth of knowledge about the geo-services and GIS industry. Truly a lucky find for us. Then it was time for some results, and lo-and-behold, the reviews were positive. We were on to the final 10! We were even interviewed by Teknisk Ukeblad!
We were thrilled to have made it to round two.
It’s been a fast journey for us, with a steep learning curve (And this sets the standards for our growth ambitions). Less than a year ago we were operating from our home office. Just getting accepted into the StatupLab incubator was such an honor for us, and put us in context. Getting accepted to Angel Challenge was unbelievable, and being selected as the top ten companies out of the 80 applicants was unreal.
Day one was pretty intense. With Four minutes pitching and two minutes q&a, you just have to get everything right. CEO Jørgen, with some experience in the spotlight from his fame in Lebanon, took the job and only f#$%ed it up a little bit. But his colorful language on stage only seemed to charm the panel of investors.
Day two was more relaxed, with 12 min q&a. It gave us an opportunity to explain more what we are doing as none of the investors really understood the industry and our innovation to it. Its hard to explain a whole industry, and their problems, to someone with no connections to GIS at all but we gave it 100%. The questions were sharp but we had the answers. Most importantly we won the investors trust. Because that’s what it all comes down to in the end. The investors have to believe in YOU. They have to see someone they can trust with their hard earned money. No one knows what company is going to make it, no one knows what the next big thing is and even if they don’t really understand what your product is they might just trust that you know what you’re doing – if they like you.
Now we’re one of the last five companies standing, and we have six weeks of seminars with real investors where we’re going to learn the money game. Getting there is beyond absurd. As a startup having spent 12 hours a day, seven days a week for a year and a half, you sometimes gets lost in your work. Feelings of doubt have to be overcome, and the conformation of being selected as top 5 of 80 companies; companies with Harvard, NTNU and MIT graduates, is perhaps the greatest confirmation we’ve received so far. It will fuel us to keep pushing even harder.
That’s why it’s such a huge compliment to have made it to the finals of Angel Challenge.
Onwards and upwards and happy mapping!
The GIS community has spoken on the current solutions available in the industry and (spoiler alert) the feedback is not good. A recent market research survey of 50+ GIS firms from random countries conducted by Systemapic (in anticipation of our approaching Beta) has proved quite revealing. Lets get down to the nitty gritty and hear what GIS professionals are saying about the current offerings on the market.
Out of survey respondents it is no surprise that 75% are using ESRI products, as the California-based giant has commanded market share for decades. QGIS, Norkart, FME and Open Source softwares are all used by less than 10% of the GIS professionals that we spoke with. Systemapic CEO Jørgen Ekvoll is wary of the effects of this dominance, saying: “Most of the GIS giants were born in the 60’s and have dominated the market since. But over the last few years we’ve seen a new generation of web-GIS solutions emerging. Now it’s time to take that trend one step further, and offer the GIS industry the cloud of their dreams.”
When it comes to sharing data the GIS industry’s current solutions offer little in the way of efficiency and features. It seems that time and money are being wasted consistently by clients and GIS consultancy groups alike. When it comes to moving data from point A to point B for delivery, for example:
–42% of respondents are using Dropbox
–47% are creating pdfs
–33% are exporting jpegs
–56% are using a shared database
–0% are sharing within the product itself
Simply taking screen-captures is frighteningly common for any industry as we move into 2016 but it is extra-prevalent in GIS it appears. With most respondents reporting GB per project far higher than easily transferable on Dropbox and Google Drive (with many in the hundreds of GB or multi-TB range) this imposes challenges. The outdated sharing methods provide challenges. Especially since GIS professionals reported working on projects with 11.5 other individuals on average. Imagine the unnecessary complexity and room for error. On the innovation that Systemapic is making in regards to sharing and collaboration, two key priorities for us, CTO Knut Ole Sjøli says: “There’s obviously a huge bottle-neck for GIS professionals when it comes to sharing big data. Our cloud solutions handles terabytes seamlessly, and we’re very excited to bridge the data gap for our clients.”
Further confusion stems from the plethora of file formats used by different softwares in the industry. Out of all respondents no two reported using the same combination of file types. This is not a surprise, as there are almost a countless number of file formats out there in GIS, but it speaks volumes about the need to create software solutions to more easily navigate this ocean of options.
When it comes to verbatim it is no surprise that respondents comments reflect frustration with the current offering. They are simply not good enough given their dominance. Time and money are consistently wasted because of lack of innovation along fronts that Systemapic believes progress can be made on. Multiple respondents complained about the impossibility of working with large datasets, highlighting primarily processing speed and time-consuming share-options. With Systemapic your work is done on the cloud. Problem solved. Also no surprise that GIS professionals reported having challenges with lack of staff time/resources given the time investment necessary with current solutions. The sharing and collaborative nature of Systemapic’s cloud-based software allows projects that previously took months to take days or even hours. Other challenges reported include waiting for client feedback, data access, data tailoring and requirement of programming skills. Done, done, and done.
It is clear the GIS industry is in need of innovation and we’re happy to be the driving force here. Join our beta to help us make Systemapic better and better, and stay tuned for more updates.
Innovation is the name of the game at Systemapic. As a darkhorse in the GIS sector and the entrepreneurial world we’re keen on pushing the envelope and the industry. So when Norway’s best and brightest GIS minds came together at FOSS4GNOR on Wednesday 23 September you can bet we were the first in line to attend.
FOSS4GNOR (Free and Open Source Software for Geoinformatics) was the Diet Coke version of the big FOSS4G conference that took place in Seoul last week, but nevertheless we got some great insight into the open source geoinformatics trends in Norway and beyond. Here are some of the highlights in our humble opinion:
-NorKart discussed their meeting with MapBox earlier this year, and their newfound love for vector tiles. We agree, vector tiles are awesome. They allow for new and exciting possibilities for large data, and we’ve already been playing around with them for a while here at Systemapic.
-Geodata briefly discussed how ESRI servers can be incorporated into open source front end frameworks.
-TurApp, our neighbor at Startup Lab in Oslo, gets a special shout out for their extremely awesome trekking/skiing route planning algorithms. Really cool. We can’t wait to hit some new trails using their product.
-Graeme Bell of NIBIO came late but good with an excellent talk on parallelizing geoprocessing. Lots of cool tricks for getting the most out of our CPU’s that we’ll definitively try out. Check out the slides for his talk here.
Overall, problems were discussed, solutions were batted around, business cards were exchanged and we really enjoyed ourselves. Great learning experience. We felt predictably comfortable in this small crowd of #geohipsters and felt like we were well received as relative newcomers.
We can’t wait to discuss our own experiences next year in Oslo or Bonn (fortunately a cheaper flight than South Korea for the global edition); because for Systemapic, collaboration is the other name of the game.
Welcome to Systemapic and allow us to introduce ourselves: First and foremost, we are Jørgen and Knut and we are dead-set on becoming the most innovative player the GIS (Geographic Information System) industry has seen. We have a deep passion for geospatial data and the incredible possibilities it gives businesses in every industry and every corner of the globe. Our business has been founded on the principles of innovation and collaboration, but to change a huge industry passion and principles won’t suffice.
Fortunately we’re tech guys and we like to build things. It’s who we are and what we do. So to get on pushing GIS technology forward we have built a solution to a problem: The industry allows millions of tough questions to be answered daily by the analysis of spatial (map) data but it does not currently have a single platform that truly facilitates collaboration without sacrificing necessary complexity. Furthermore, the bar for entry is just too high. Programming skills and serious capital are both currently a must if professionals really want to harness the power of map data.
Here is where we come in. We’ve made the first platform to easily create, collaborate on and share beautiful geospatial visualizations of a world of data. We operate on an affordable subscription model, host all the data ourselves on secure servers, work with any GIS file format and don’t require programming skills while sacrificing none of the richness or complexity like our web-based competitors. We are Systemapic and we believe changing an industry can change the world.
A story: In 2013 we were just two Norwegian tech entrepreneurs, living in Lebanon, tasked by WWF Norway to build an Arctic-area web map. A large existing player had disappointed with their delivered result so WWF enlisted us. We helped a good cause but unearthed a bad problem: A project that should have taken hours took months due to the archaic technology of the mammoth Geo-Services industry ($270b annually) and cost WWF far more than we believed it could with some industry innovation. Never ones to sit idly by, we started creating Systemapic and are now focused on innovating an industry so ubiquitous it is used to find both an optimized location for the next Starbucks and human pressure hotspots on Caribbean coral reefs. We’re now in our Beta testing phase (join) and moving forward rapidly.
By introducing the industry’s first collaborative cloud solution with elegant and user-friendly interfaces we think a better GIS platform can make a world of difference.
Welcome to Systemapic.