In the quest for a way for businesses to improve the management and use of location data, PinMeTo
The Sweden-based startup's customers were asking for a solution and the team, originally working on software marketing solutions for hospitality, decided to work on the idea as a spin-off.
The team consists of founder and CEO Daniel Melkersson, designer and social media expert Petter Palander, developer and programmer Michael Nilsson and developer and programmer Marcus Olsson.
From launch in September 2013, the company was accepted into Minc
, a Malmo-based incubator and was bootstrapped until February when it received seed funding of US$220,000 from Swedish venture capitalist Wingefors
PinMeTo is going after the global hospitality market and says it has not yet found a competitor doing what it does although competition could be seen in large hospitality companies and startups (Locationary and MomentFeed) collecting the same location data as it does but using it for different purposes.
The goal is to enable the B2B software to be purchased via digital platforms using a subscription model although the startup acknowledges it will require manpower for sales in the beginning. Sales will be focused on large companies and destination marketing companies although the hope is that the solution will go viral.
The startup is already working with the Thailand tourism authority with the idea that if the central organisation or head office likes the technology, it will filter down to other regions and offices.
What problem does the business solve?
Many businesses believe that if they are found on search engines and active in social media they have solved their digital marketing, but that is not the whole truth. They must also get their location data right, and that is what PinMeTo solves. This becomes especially relevant in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry where businesses are depending on physical visitors
How did the initial idea evolve and were there changes/any pivots along the way in the early stages?
Yes we have done some pivots with the biggest going from a focus on public DMOs to working more with the private sector. The slow phase and lack of first movers and early adopters in public organisations like DMOs pushed us to focus our sales more on the private sector.
Why should people or companies use the business?
If restaurants, hotels, shops and other businesses that live off their visitors have not presented their location data right on services such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. it is a missed marketing opportunity. Many believe that if they are active on search and social media platforms they have solved their digital marketing but they must also get their location data right.
Many businesses fail to make the correct settings and enter contact information the right way in social media and mapping services. The negative consequences are many, with perhaps the biggest being that visitors can not tell that they are at a place, what to do there, take pictures and spread it in their various digital networks.
PinMeTo has a dialogue with a large number of international companies and organisations in tourism and retail which see the problem as important and something that must be resolved.
"In the dialogue with our customer segment it has become clear that the problem is much bigger than you might think."
Five reasons for businesses to pay more attention on location data:
What is the strategy for raising awareness and the customer/user acquisition (apart from PR)?
- You get free viral marketing from your visitors.
- You will be more visible on search engines and social media.
- You get extremely targeted marketing channels.
- You get to know your visitors better and what they say about their visit with you.
- You get to know if you have accurate information about your place on search engines and social media.
We will soon offer a free tool on our webpage to test if a company's location data is set up the right way on different platforms such as Facebook, Google and Instagram. We educate on location data in blog posts, videos and web seminars. For advertising we use AdWords and targeted social media campaigns.
Where do you see the company in three years time and what specific challenges do you anticipate having to overcome?
In three years PinMeTo will have proven the importance of thinking and using location data in marketing activities for physical places like hotels, restaurants or shops and we are the tool a *place marketer picks up first in the morning, logs out from last in the evening and which works the night shift on it’s own.
*A place marketer for us is a person who works with social media, marketing, public relations or sales for one or more physical locations.
What is wrong with the travel, tourism and hospitality industry that requires another startup to help it out?
The travel, tourism and hospitality industry must understand the importance of going from “inside-out” to “outside-in” marketing. Instead of trying to reach a million people and hope to appeal to 1%, start with the people who already visit you, already know you or already love you. Then they share the word.
The companies and DMOs that are able to make this switch the fastest will be the winners. Our plan is to be the company pushing this change and our software the number one choice. Location data is an essential part of this change and that is why we put all our focus on that now.
What other technology company would you consider yourselves most closely aligned to in terms of culture and style... and why?
Google because it bases its decisions on data and Virgin because running a company is supposed to be fun.
If we accept that many businesses are missing a marketing trick by not taking advantage of the opportunities that Google, Instagram, Foursquare etc provide, then PinMeTo could be a good solution.
However, there could be perhaps a slight issue of a solution trying to find a problem here because many businesses hotels, attractions etc who have gone to the trouble of trying to understand social media and dedicate resources to it, might expect those resources to be on top of the location data side of things.
One other interesting element is whether companies, once they have learned how to manage and use the data, will they need to continue to use the service?
The answer to both the above issues could be the fact that it's going after the global market and planning to sell via digital channels so if it can get scale and keep costs down, PinMeTo could be on to something.
The startup will likely have to show results pretty fast to gain traction and go viral, as it hopes. Pricing the subscription model right will also help here.
What is refreshing is a startup providing a B2B location intelligence service, pertinent right now in the age of big data and focus on the customer. It feels like all too many are B2C with very little differentiation.
And, it has another thing in its favour, the premise of "outside-in" marketing and making sure the people who are already looking for you and like you, can find you.