Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Interview with Walt Stender, CEO of Digital Map Products
In our profiles, we try to talk to firms across the spectrum of technology, throughout Southern California. Today, we've got an interviw with Walt Stender, CEO of Digital Map Products (www.digitalmapproducts.com), a Costa Mesa-based firm in the GIS (geographic information systems) space.
Ben Kuo: What does Digital Map Products do?
Walt Stender: Digital Map is leading the next generation of mapping solutions. We are the pioneer in integrating data with aerial maps and property information over the internet to improve decision-making. It is the property information and our software-as-a-service model that make our products so valuable to our two primary markets: real estate and local government. The benefit of our model is that there is no software or hardware to upgrade, and our data is continually updated.
BK: Who are your typical customers, and how are they using your products?
WS: Our customers fall into two categories: real estate and local government.
The real estate segment encompasses builder developers, title companies and multiple listing services. Our users are primarily the real estate professionals who use our products to identify land for acquisition and prospecting, and to obtain comparables. Our real estate solution, LandVision, enables customers to get a quick view of the relationships between land use patterns, road networks, hazards, and transportation and utilities infrastructure. Digital Map has a number of high profile customers that are making use of LandVision including Cornerstone Group, John Laing Homes (Los Angeles), KB Homes (Nevada) and Taylor Woodrow (SW Division).
The local government segment encompasses city government and counties and our users are primarily city and county employees. Our local government product, CityGIS, benefits our users in a number of different ways - from traditional Geographic Information System (GIS) activities to code enforcement to public counter activities related to property issues. CityGIS allows cities and agencies to deliver information throughout the organization quickly and efficiently. We are pleased to say that CityGIS is being used in over 12 cities in Orange County including the cities of San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana and the Orange County Sheriff and the County of Orange Planning Division.
We are distinct in our ability to offer GIS technology to non-technical professionals. Our products are designed so that individuals and organizations with no GIS experience or knowledge are able to perform GIS tasks like an expert.
BK: How is DMP funded, and where are you in terms of company life cycle?
WS: We obtain funding for expansion from three sources; Private equity firms, angels, and from the company's Operations. Last July, we announced our Series C funding led by Titan Investment Partners.
We are at a very exciting time in the history of our company having come off of a record year in 2005; we have a series of new product introductions planned for 2006 and further expansion plans across the United States. Our expansion plans began in earnest in 2005 when we opened offices in Arizona, Washington State, Texas and Florida. In 2006, we plan to expand into North Carolina, Utah and Colorado.
BK: Why did DMP decide to raise venture capital, and what are you using that capital for?
WS: Digital Map requires capital for national expansion. We have used the capital to grow from one metropolitan area to ten. We plan to raise additional capital to expand into the remaining metros over the next year.
BK: The GIS space seems to be getting lots of competition nowadays from open web services (ie Google Maps, Microsoft Live, and now MapQuest's open API)--how has this affected Digital Map Products?
WS: It's great to see big name players like Google and Microsoft entering this space, and I'm pleased that they are helping us to bring digital mapping to the forefront. Today, consumers and businesses alike have a much better understanding of the power of GIS and how it can make lives easier and more efficient. There is a great difference in the solutions that Digital Map brings to market versus the consumer-based services that Google, Microsoft or MapQuest offer. Digital Map focuses on businesses that need to leverage GIS technology for land acquisition or to track, analyze and report on property or location-based information. We will continue to make complex GIS data and work flows easy to use for our target audiences and do not have any plans to develop solutions that address the needs of the consumer market.
BK: How do you compare to competitors like ESRI, which looks to have a pretty dominant place in this space?
WS: We don't directly compete with ESRI. We focus on niches where ease-of-use and turn key solutions are paramount. Our users, especially our LandVision users, are not GIS professionals and don't typically have the budget to hire GIS professionals or have a custom solution built from scratch. ESRI really caters to the GIS professional.
BK: Finally, what's next for Digital Map products?
WS: We will be focusing on alliances with fortune 1000 companies. The company plans to expand internationally and will be looking for targeted acquisitions.