Brian Welde and his company Angling Technologies set out to revolutionize fishing maps – and with the help of Digital Sandbox KC, a new proof of concept center in Kansas City, they’ll refine their core mapping technology and move it into new markets.
“Brian is a classic example of an entrepreneur; he saw an opportunity to take existing technology and apply it to one of his passions – fishing. From there, he gathered feedback and applied learned lessons to build a new product – Mapper – and evolve into new markets,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC.
In 2004, all fishing maps were static. Anglers bought a paper map or pre-set digital maps for their GPS or depth finders.
“At that time I was building complex interactive mapping solutions that worked in web browsers for the Department of Defense and federal agencies,” said Brian Welde about Angling Technologies’ origins. “I saw a need to transfer that knowledge to outdoor recreation.”
Pairing his extensive knowledge of mapping technology with his passion for fishing, Welde created an interactive fishing map that allows anglers to make custom maps based on a constantly growing library of geographic information relevant to fishing.
“The value proposition for anglers is that they can obtain more information online and customize this information to gain new insights into planning fishing trips or doing research for fishing tournaments,” says Welde.
Broadening the Scope
As a technologist, Welde could see the trend in location-based services rapidly advancing toward self service mapping solutions where consumers have the ability to promote/share/monetize their valuable local knowledge of place. By being an early adopter of open source software, consumer focused web-maps and crowd-sourced data, Welde was able to identify several key requirements for commercial web-mapping products. Mapper was designed with these key requirements in mind to provide access to much larger and more diverse markets than fishing.
Mapper provides an interactive mapping solution that is easy to use, quick to set up, rich in context and functionality, and open to anyone. It is designed to allow users to rapidly create customized web-based maps populated with valuable local knowledge. Initial markets include fishing, outdoor recreation, community and real estate to supply maps for a wide array of uses such as events, trips, blogs, planning and anything where local knowledge is a valuable commodity yet traditionally hard to convey. “The neat thing about Mapper is the creativity it inspires,” Welde said. “Our beta testers continually came up with new uses for the maps that we did not anticipate. Geography is an asset that most people do not consider. Mapper provides a way to unlock personal geographic knowledge.”
Playing in the Digital Sandbox
Angling Technologies is one of the first six innovative companies to be eligible for funding from Digital Sandbox KC, which provides proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes. Support for each Sandbox participant is customized based on the unique needs of the project as well as the resources required to move the product or service forward.
“The Sandbox will help to make Mapper even better as we launch by allowing us to add new features, increase the ease of use, and refine some of the rough edges,” said Welde. “The challenge we have traditionally faced is exposure. We are hopeful that the connections we make in the Sandbox will help spread the word about Mapper to consumers and help us get established in many new markets.”