Swedish Startup Space

This startup is challenging Google Maps on the expo floor

Written by on October 19, 2015

A talked about feature during the newly finished Swedish literature fair “Bokmässan” was the app which helped visitors finding the right showcase booth, by company Trueflow which are behind the technology. With $970.000 in venture capital backing them, the founders are launching a plan to become an indoors version of Google Maps.

“The book fair was first with using the technology at a larger scale. Following this, we can always point to the expo and show it as example to the next customer”, Trueflow’s co-founder Thomas Ohlson says.

He started Trueflow a year ago together with Martin Tennerfors, formerly marketing manager at Samsung Innovation in USA.

The company’s technology functions in the following manner: Trueflow place numerous transmitters called beacons on the premises. The transmitters are connected to the company’s app, which together with sketches of the premises can show users how they should move to reach a certain showcase.

The mobile phones communicate with the transmitters through Bluetooth, which means that positioning works without an internet connection.

The technology carries new business opportunities for exhibitions. Publishers who wanted to achieve additional visibility during the book expo could buy advertisement space in the app. Trueflow’s business model is to take a share of the advertisement revenue.

“Exhibitions are like small cities that exist only for a short period of time. Those investing a lot during their presence at the expo want make sure that they will be noticed. There is almost no digital marketing at expos today”, Martin Tannerfors says.

Trueflow is based in Gothenburg and have previously raised $970.000 in venture capital from a group of Swedish and German private investors. After testing the app at the book fair, the plan is to use the money to grow.

Tomas Ohlson says that there are many startups active within indoor positioning, but that none of them have solved the financial model.

“We are not a positioning startup, we are not a map company and we do not build event apps. We are a search company for the indoors. Basically, we want to build a Google Maps for the indoors”, he says.

This means that Trueflow competes with both Apple and Google, who also want to own as much as possible of the market for indoor maps.

Tomas Ohlson expresses no fear regarding competition with two of the largest tech companies in the world.

“They are trying to take on the entire world at the same time. For anyone owning an exhibition centre, it basically means that you are provided a map-service by them, but you do not have any control over it and have no clue when it will be updated”, he says.

Martin Tannerfors says that the goal at first is to tie the largest expos in northern Europe.

“This industry has huge potential but it’s just like Tomas says. We believe it is wrong to enter on a wide front or all countries simultaneously. The book fair was a milestone. We have high activity now and focus on profitability during 2016, among other things”, he says.

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