Atlas Mapping could be the service you never knew your business needed.
The Peterborough firm started life in late 2010 as a consultancy whose mapping software helped franchises decide where to place their next site, shop or restaurant.
Despite boasting more than 210 clients of all sizes – from Hotel Chocolat to Homeserve, Electrolux and Amanda’s Action Club – founder and director Jon Bellamy saw wider potential for its services.
“We realised around Christmas 2013 that a lot of the things the software did should also appeal to a lot of businesses that aren’t franchising but have similar needs,” he told BusinessCloud.
“A business may need to know where they should be marketing next, or make sure the location of a potential new site has enough of the types of customers around it who might use their services or buy their products.
“There are also large companies that need to manage their sales teams. The principle behind sales territories is no different to that of franchise territories: a salesperson’s business comes from within a specific area – and that is their area to work.”
While continuing to serve its existing customers, Bellamy worked to develop the software into what is now known as Vision.
He says it can be used by anyone within a business from administration to marketing and beyond, unlike almost all other mapping software which requires a “degree in geography” to grasp.
Users can specify the demographics which are of interest to their business: for a children’s activity business, it could be people aged 0-4, whereas for one focused on healthcare, it could be ages 65+ and people with disabilities.
“Vision is very visual,” he said. “You start drawing the area you want to analyse on top of a Google Map and, as you draw it, those values are summed up for you.
“Marketeers are often working blind: their message is targeted, but not always in the right areas on the ground. And you’d be surprised how many businesses set up a new site with very little research on the area – often that is why it will fail.
“The data comes from the Office for National Statistics in England and Wales, and the equivalent in Northern Ireland and Scotland and the rest of the world.
“We also use other sources for more bespoke data: in the UK we use a company called Market Location, which can tell users how many businesses and employees are in a given area – and even, on a granular level, how many solicitors firms there are, for example.”
The goal is to allow people to enter demographic values and receive suggestions for the location of their next site or marketing campaign without having to specify a particular area.
Bellamy added: “We’re adding in self-management features: until now, if a client wants to add a new layer to create a catchment area, or [for example] the colour red to denote where not to go, we have to manage those changes for them.
“Our goal for the end of 2017 is to allow our clients to fully manage their own system and also put an eCommerce system behind the website so users can sign up, set up monthly payments to us and get going without ever having talked to us, if they don’t want to.
“We can’t grow too aggressively until we get to that stage. In today’s world you’d expect to be able to manage it yourself online and for there to be support when you need it. And when it’s automated, we can offer free trials.”
Atlas Mapping is looking to expand globally with an initial focus on English-speaking countries such as America, Canada and Australia.
It is ready to grow its current workforce of four: at present, Bellamy works on the front end of the product, while Scott Neil develops the back-end system.
“We absolutely need to grow our development team with very experienced front-end developers to take over my part of the role,” said Bellamy.
“We’ll look to the talent available in Cambridge – thankfully the wages there are nothing like the level in London!”
Another example of how Vision can be used is in mapping suppliers, distributors and logistics partners to minimise fuel bills when transporting goods.