Wayfinding is one of those core technologies that make consumer lives better and easier – helping people locate where they want and need to go in places like shopping malls, airports, health care facilities and higher ed campuses.
There are numerous software companies that include wayfinding capabilities in their platforms, but only a handful that have been laser-focused just on delivering that solution. One of the most successful ones is Mappedin.
The company started as a sideline for some students at the University of Waterloo, which most observers would call the top computing school in Canada. Hongwei Liu and his buddies thought they could solve a problem for students finding their way around the sprawling Waterloo campus, and then at a local mall and a casino a couple of hours up the highway.
There was enough there for Liu to quit school in his second year. Just a few years later, he’s running a company with 60 employees, some big outside investors, and clients across North America and globally.
I spoke with Liu about Mappedin’s roots, what works and doesn’t, and how the big moment came when serious research showed good wayfinding can mean millions of dollars in incremental sales for shopping malls and their tenants.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.