Proxi makes digital cards cooler – TechCrunch

Startups

Depending on your age, you may have to get from point A to point B using paper maps — what we called an “atlas,” the giant book that lived in the pocket behind the passenger seat of the car.

When maps went digital, you might have relied on MapQuest to map out the fastest route to your destination. Ironically, Homebrew’s Hunter Walker tweeted last week that there are people who remember printing pages from MapQuest and “those who have no idea what I’m talking about”.

Whichever of those camps you find yourself in, Proxi wants to give you every feeling when it comes to creating maps for 2022. The Seattle-based startup is developing geospatial software intended to compete with Google Maps and Yelp by users in to create personalized navigation maps.

The idea for the company sprang from Proxi’s co-founder Melinda Haughey’s crowdsourced trick-or-treating card that went viral in 2020. Amid the global pandemic, Haughey, an engineer with a background in intelligence, wanted to find out where people had been. candy shoots so that trick-or-treating could be done by her child safely nearby.

Proximity card

The Proxi map app. Inage credits: proximity

“I noticed on my local Facebook group for parents that people were just listing their addresses, and given my background, I was like, ‘this is so stupid, no one is really going to be able to use this,’” she said. “I thought about what to do with these addresses, so I used a bunch of different tools to put them together and published a form where people could add their candy shoots.”

What started in her small neighborhood eventually went viral with 2,300 homes in the Seattle area. It was even featured on the local news and “Good Morning America.”

However, going through that process made Haughey realize that the card-making process was “a nightmare” and “inaccessible to ordinary people,” she said.

After people started asking her for help making cards, she reached out to Chelsey Roney, a college friend who was a multiple entrepreneur with past exits, to work on a vision to make card making super easy. .

Proxi is a free, no-code tool for creating custom, interactive maps that can be embedded in social media accounts, websites, and apps. Some of the company’s early adopters — including Seattle news channel King 5, Seattle production company Traveling While Black, event coordinators, influencers and foodie bloggers — are replacing list lists with maps of favorite hangouts, restaurants and places to see and be seen.

And, unlike other map services, users can put their own branding on the maps and create custom icons, Haughey said.

“We’ve learned through experiments that people are more likely to repent and actually go to those places where they can visually see where they are,” she added. “Admins will soon be able to receive an in-depth analytics dashboard where they can see who visits a map, how long they spend there, which points were clicked, and who clicked the directions and custom URL.”

To kick-start those new features, Haughey and Roney raised $1.2 million in an oversubscribed pre-seed round led by Graham & Walker (the company told me this was their first time leading a round) , with participation from Techstars, Madrona Pioneer Fund, Pack VC, Tacoma Venture Fund, FAM Fund, KIC and a group of angel investors.

Proxi was launched in mid-2021, which is when it started to pick up the aforementioned hard traction. After signing up with Techstars, Haughey and Roney decided to seek additional capital to rapidly scale and run marketing campaigns.

They plan to use it in four ways: taking keys, growing in density in both Seattle and Austin, getting more people to make cards, and exploring the concept of a consumer app.

So far, about 500 maps have been made around the world. Interesting use cases include creating wedding itineraries and maps of the best playgrounds in town. In the Seattle and Austin focus areas, Haughey and Roney want to expand the 250 maps where people regularly actively share recommendations with their environment or with travelers.

“One way we can differentiate ourselves and really build something that people care about is by staying very close to the creators,” Haughey said. “We’re going to build the features very thoughtfully and ethically and make sure we create a great user experience for people.”

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