Startup Spotlight: Location Services Startup Gives Directions to Big Customers Through Microsoft Marketing Programs

Date Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2018

This post was created by the Microsoft Customer Stories team and was originally posted on https://customers.microsoft.com

People rely on GPS for everything from food delivery and booking a taxi to meeting up with friends and finding a coffee shop. But what about indoors? There is no established widespread indoor location technology that works in large places where it can be easy to take a wrong turn, like stadiums, conference centers, hospitals, shopping malls, and airports, to name a few. Pointr is helping fix that problem. We show organizations how to better achieve digital transformation by combining indoor location intelligence with machine learning. Our Deep Location cloud platform solution provides actionable business intelligence by harnessing large amounts of data and continuous learning.

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Other providers in our market space provide location solutions that often omit critical functionality. It’s not a matter of, “Hey, Pointr is a little bit better than the others.” It’s a matter of, “Hey, Pointr works.” If you’re building a ship, the one that floats isn’t just a little bit better than the one that sinks. Location solutions are hard to develop because obstacles such as high ceilings, metal construction, and never-ending changes in floorplans wreak havoc on traditional solutions. We believe that the Pointr Deep Location platform is the only truly scalable option in these difficult situations. Pointr is not a beacon or sensor company, and unlike competitors’ offerings, Pointr is hardware-agnostic. It was developed top-down for business intelligence and analytics.

There’s no getting lost in this cloud

Deep Location combines cloud resources—Microsoft Azure in our case—with the utility of iOS and Android smartphones, apps, software development kits, and augmented reality (AR) technology into a topological hierarchy. The platform can be overlaid on any indoor location sensing technology (including beacons) while increasing their positional and directional accuracy through our patented technology. Deep Location also collects sensor information without an app using our Pointr of Presence module.

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We used the open-source ASP.NET framework to develop our backend systems, so taking advantage of Azure was the natural next step. We tried other cloud services on past projects, but Azure stands out as offering high performance and a great development experience. Our decision to go with Azure was purely technical. Our team already liked the Microsoft stack and wanted to continue using the technology they trust. Also, our customers have confidence in Microsoft enterprise-quality software, which increases their confidence in us.

Intelligent decisions about locations

The founders of Pointr have expertise in AI, machine learning, and technologies related to sensors, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth and have worked with Microsoft Research on AI projects. Our development team is computer-science driven, and we use a variety of AI techniques for data analytics in Deep Location. The platform takes advantage of native AI technology in Azure, but we worked with AI before it was part of Azure, so our core software is internally developed and platform-neutral.

We also have expertise in AR, and the AR capabilities of Deep Location are popular with our customers. Early on, we worked on ways to make interfaces that are more user-intuitive. It’s one thing to know your location but another to find your friends in a large concert venue, for example, or see the shortest path to your gate at the airport. The result is that Deep Location offers accurate location in part because it has accurate orientation (the direction you’re facing). Even if our competitors had comparable accuracy, they likely wouldn’t be able to combine it with the correct orientation. From our perspective, Pointr offers the only solution that makes sense in an AR context.

A smoother path to success

Early on, Pointr became part of Microsoft Accelerator London (now Microsoft Scale Up), which was extremely useful because we needed to connect to big clients. We also gained access to Microsoft experts who gave us legal advice, marketing support, and business guidance. We signed at least two key deals that we believe wouldn’t have been possible without the program. It’s tough to know for sure, but being validated by Microsoft back then helped a lot. The name Pointr would not have impressed the officials of a major airport, for example. And there were cases where Microsoft helped us connect with the right people in large companies—people who have the power to make purchasing decisions—who would otherwise be hard to track down.

That success has continued as we now work directly with Microsoft to sell solutions. Microsoft is motivated to support us because we attract Azure customers that it might not be able to satisfy by itself. That is, a customer might need the location technology we offer that Microsoft doesn’t have with its existing solutions or channels. We work in parallel, and it generates more revenue for both of us. That’s what synergy is all about. It’s also part of how Pointr became a selling partner so quickly after establishing its relationship with the software company. 

A relationship based on mutual understanding

Whenever we meet Microsoft program team members, we find people who know what they’re talking about and who understand what we’re trying to do. This is especially important in a B2B setting where we have demanding customers. Even in countries where we haven’t worked with Microsoft teams before, there are always stakeholders who have done their research and know how to help us find prospects in that region.

This isn’t a case of Microsoft finding deals for us; it’s a collaboration of finding them together. It’s a corporate friendship where we have a common technical mission. Pointr has never had a single negative experience with Microsoft for Startups stakeholders. If anything, the relationship—and the results—just keep getting better.

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