Maps aren't one of the common ways you can think of that something to help you #getnoticed. But surprisingly, this app called Proxi is helping their customers be more visible to their leads and customers through their branded maps and through helping their customers locate establishments and businesses within a preferred area of proximity.
In this episode, Proxi's COO, Chelsey Roney, shares all about how their app works and how it helps entrepreneurs, like you, to #getnoticed through the what they call the 'ecosystem'. She also discusses why it's different from other known and most used apps like Google and Apple maps, and how the reviews that users leave on your business in the app can help you be noticed as well. And lastly, she also shares how they get Proxi noticed.
Post-production, transcript and show notes by XCD Virtual Assistants
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Hello, and welcome to this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur with me, Jim James. And today, I'm joined by Chelsey Roney, who is the co-founder and COO of a company called "Proxi." And we're going to talk about maps and how you can use them in your business. Chelsey, coming from Seattle, welcome to the show.Chelsey Roney:
Well, thanks for having me on the show. I really appreciate you having me.Jim James:
You're more than welcome, Chelsey. So, tell us about maps. Most people use Google Maps. How does Proxi help a business owner to get noticed?Chelsey Roney:
Exactly. So, Proxi enables a business to become the Hero Destination in an ecosystem of like-minded partners. And it allows them to showcase other local businesses and local recommendations in a way that helps their customers navigate the world around them, and understand what's close in proximity to them and therefore make decisions about where to go and what to do.Jim James:
I think that's wonderful, Chelsey, because now, people are using mobile, especially, aren't they, when they're going to some location or destination for business or for leisure. Give us a guide and how does Proxi work and how does a business owner use it in their company?Chelsey Roney:
Yeah, so a business owner would go to Proxi, they would create a custom brandable map, they can add points to this map, and they can share it in a matter of minute. So, it's very simple to use. They would use this map to showcase local recommendations in their ecosystem. So, if you are a manager of a tourism organization, you may showcase businesses in the area that guests in your city may want to go to. Then in action, you would take the ProxiMap and you can embed it in your website, you could have it printed as a QR code for guests to access. Once the guests have a ProxiMap in their phone, it'll just be on their mobile, and this map where it shows 'you' amongst all of these local recommendations that your business has provided, so the customer can understand exactly where they are in proximity to those locations and get there really easily.Jim James:
So, Chelsey, that sounds great. But how and why would this be different to, let's say, a Google or an Apple Maps? Because that's the current go-to, isn't it, for people.Chelsey Roney:
Yeah, that's exactly right. So, we're different in several ways. The first of which is customization and branding. So, you can customize this map to have your logo, you can customize the categories, you can put these icons as symbols for the map categories, you can brand map background. So, it really looks like an in-house experience for your customers... so, that's one of the main ways that it's really different from Google My Maps. The second way is that we are crowdsource-able. So, you can engage your audience with one of our maps and ask them to add points to the map - that's one way to use our maps. And the final way that we're really different from Google My Maps is that we have analytics. So as a business owner, you need to know the conversion rates of the people, of the recommendations, that you make on your map, and we'll help you understand that via our Insights tool. And so, you'll be able to understand how many people actually went to those places that you recommended so you can build relationships with those businesses and, perhaps, monetise your map as well.Jim James:
Well, I was going to say, it sounds as though you're starting to build a really nice ecosystem, as I think you've called it, of one destination with a number of trusted destinations and service providers, let's say, even for example, at a trade show, convention center, or a, let's say, theme park. If you are running the Hero Destination, let's call it, how would you monetise Proxi? And that's P-R-O-X-I, isn't it, not P-R-O-X-Y.Chelsey Roney:
You got it, Jim. And it's "proxi.co", not "com". Yeah, so, monetisation is really important when a business is building relationships with other local businesses, or if you're a content creator building relationships with local businesses. So the main thing to monetize those recommendations is understanding how many people actually go to the destination that you recommend. So what you can do as a ProxiMap creator is publish your map, you'll have map points on that map, and you'll be able to see how many people actually went to those map points, how many people clicked on each map point. You'll be able to provide that data to the businesses on the map, and you can, perhaps, say something like, "Hey, look, we've got thousands of views on this point. We have X number of conversions on this point. Let's set up, perhaps, an affiliate partnership in this situation, or have a discount code or something like this, and then do a revenue share based on the map."Jim James:
Yeah, I love that. Now, you did say that you can tell how many people have gone to the location. Just to clarify that for us, are you saying that if someone has a Hero Destination and someone that has used their ProxiMap goes to, let's say, a restaurant, are you saying that you can track that they've just looked at that on their mobile device? Or that they've actually travelled to that destination and gone into the building, for example?Chelsey Roney:
So right now, the way that Proxi works is that we turn over information to you on how many people have clicked on that map point. Now, shortly, we will be providing businesses information on how many people actually went to that destination based on location information that we received. Now, this, just for privacy purposes if people are concerned about this, this would be aggregated information, this would not be like, "This individual went to this one place." It would be, "This number of individuals went to this place." Does that make sense?Jim James:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, because you've got a whole data privacy issue, haven't you? But on the other hand, to be really valuable, you've got that. But presumably, if someone was to travel, let's say, to that restaurant from the Hero Destination and they had, let's say, a partnership programme, and a QRC, that would activate, wouldn't it, you'd actually have a number of clicks counted that way. Is that possible through Proxi?Chelsey Roney:
That's true, too. So that will be another piece of analytics that we will be turning over to businesses in the near term future is how many people actually clicked on the URL, the custom URL, space that we've provided.Jim James:
Right. So at the moment, people may be using something like FourSquare or Google Maps. What about people having enough destinations on their ProxiMap to make it valuable? Because presuming there's a critical mass of other service providers, and venues, and locations, on a map to make the user want to download the app and to use Proxi.Chelsey Roney:
Yeah, exactly. So right now, we find that about five map points, or more, is the magic number to have on your map. So whenever you do create that map, you'll want to at least come up with enough content to put about five points on that map, or greater, to make it compelling enough to where people will come back to that map time and time again as they're navigating the destination.Jim James:
Okay. Now, a couple of questions there. One is, let's just look at, first of all, the range of a ProxiMap, shall we? I mean, are you talking about within a mile or a kilometre square area, for example, of a venue, or a Hero Destination? Or is it further than that? Because that obviously increases the number of points, and you said you've got to have a minimum of five for it to get sort of critical value.Chelsey Roney:
Yeah, exactly. That's a great question. So, the map scale can be adjusted after you've created your initial map, and it should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. So for instance, if you're hosting a conference in a large hotel, you will want to have the map scale be very zoomed-in because most people will be on foot and you'll want to provide recommendations in a few blocks radius. Now, if you are visiting a different country, for instance, you may want to zoom out to a larger area and we make that very easy to do in the map, so you'll set that default setting whenever you create your map.Jim James:
Well, right. So, geography is entirely scalable. That's wonderful, and this sort of wonderful affiliate program that you can build out. What about the reviews that might start to come up? Because obviously, some people use Trust Pilot, for example, or FIFO to do a review. So, if you created this affiliate network of destinations and service providers, what about the response that people might have to them?Chelsey Roney:
So here's our unique take on this - we are not providing a comments or a review section on the places that are on a map. Now, the reason for this is that these reviews and comments can be stale. There's a huge moderation component to those aspect of the business. And we feel like that's our differentiator from Google and Yelp, is that you are seeking out, when you come to Proxi, you are seeking out maps based on the map creator. So, you'll be able to see all the maps that one map creator has made, and so you are really trusting that map creators' recommendations rather than like crowdsource verification of that. So, it's a different take on trust, if that makes sense. So like the end-user is putting trust in the map creator, not in other people's reviews.Jim James:
Right. And I think considering the amount of fake reviews that we are seeing a curated credible list that's put together by the hotel network or the destination, we'll have a lot more security and peace of mind especially for people traveling maybe to places they haven't been before, Chelsey, so there's a security aspect as well, maybe.Chelsey Roney:
That's exactly it.Jim James:
Yeah. So with Proxi, from an implementation point of view, just tell us how it works. Do you have to be like a programmer? Do you have to use fancy unity software for those of us that aren't?Chelsey Roney:
No, we call ourselves the technology for "Casual Cartographers". So we don't want anyone to have to be a developer, we don't need anyone to be, you know, some computer savant. You just need to go to our website, you quickly click that create a map" button, you just put in your email address so that we can send you all of your information, and the map is created right then. And then to embed it, all you have to do is click a button and you'll see the embed code right there, you copy and paste it into your website, or you can share the map via a link, and you can display that link anywhere you wish. So in a social media, LinkedIn bio, via text message - which is a way that a lot of businesses use it - very easy to use.Jim James:
Right. That's wonderful. Yeah, so very easy to use and very democratic, if you like. Is there a mobile app? Or are people just accessing a web browser version on their mobile phones?Chelsey Roney:
Yeah, so we always want to make sure that Proxi is "web-first" so that no one ever has to have an app in order to use Proxi. That's one of our values that we will continue to stand by as we move into the future, you know, we don't want anyone to have to make an extra download. However, we are creating an app where people can go. They can download it if they so choose, they can discover maps from many map creators in all different areas of the world. So, that is coming down the pipeline, but to use Proxi you will never have to have an app.Jim James:
Right. And so do you have, for example, a case study, Chelsey, an existing user that you can just share how they're implementing Proxi?Chelsey Roney:
Yeah, I sure can. So, in the States, there is a concept called "Restaurant Week", and this is a concept where an organization in the city brings together restaurants of that city to benefit a cause via deals at that restaurant. So it'll be a week-long event where the restaurant is offering like a three-course deal for X number of dollars. Well, these organizations that run these restaurant week events are now turning to ProxiMaps. So what's happening is that, all of these restaurants are putting themselves on the map - they're listing their deals. And we have actually partnered with OpenTable to do restaurant bookings. So there's a book button as well, then these restaurant week organizations host the map on their sites and they've gotten hundreds of thousands of views for several of the maps. So it's people, really, the end-user, really enjoys understanding proximity when it comes to restaurants around them.Jim James:
That's a wonderful user case and replaces the old printed maps where you're wandering around trying to find them as well, Chelsey, and as you say, you've got the interactivity as well.Chelsey Roney:
That's right.Jim James:
And is this being used mainly by consumer-related marketing? Or do you have any B2B cases as well?Chelsey Roney:
Yeah, well, we're mostly B2C. So, one business, the Hero Destination, will feature the ecosystem of businesses around them, and then all of those businesses will feature the map to their customers in their audiences and their audience can enjoy this one map that features this network of businesses.Jim James:
Yeah, that's fantastic. And I think there are lots of different applications here, but presumably when people look at the map, can they then subscribe, for example, to updates from the people that are within that Proxi?Chelsey Roney:
Exactly. That's not in product today, but you're exactly right. That's a feature that's in the pipeline. You can subscribe to see updates to that one map, you can subscribe to see updates from that map creator in case they're creating a number of different maps that you may be interested in moving forward.Jim James:
Wow. I love it. And I love the idea of the "Casual Cartographer" with a commercial bent. Chelsey, you're plainly a talented entrepreneur, it's your third business if I'm understanding correctly. How have you been getting Proxi noticed as an entrepreneur?Chelsey Roney:
Yeah, several different ways. I think our most effective way is social media. So we're on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, we're soon to be adding Pinterest and TikTok. We are noticed via organic posts, we are noticed via paid advertising, we are also working with a PR firm to help us get our message out into the world, and we also produce relevant content for search engines. Now, one way that we're getting noticed is via Viral Maps. And so, these are maps that hundreds of thousands of people might want to see. Many times they correspond to different large events in a certain area, or a holiday, or something like this, but media organizations use our maps to spread the word about local events, and those tend to go viral which gets the word out about our business.Jim James:
Yeah, I can imagine fantastic things like spring break, for example. I can imagine all these seasonal events as well, yeah, that people are using.Chelsey Roney:
Yes, exactly.Jim James:
Now, Chelsey, I haven't asked you the question, yet. But, is this super expensive? You said it for the "Casual Cartographer", but what are the price points for using Proxi?Chelsey Roney:
So right now, Proxi is free, and it will remain that way for a little while, and it will always remain free for the individual user. In the future, we will have some advanced features rolling out for an enterprise use case that we will charge for it. But right now, it's free.Jim James:
Yeah, so it'll be a "free-mium" model, you know, essential services for free, and then you can upgrade further so it'll be the best PR in a way of all, won't it? Is the user experiences in sharing those are wonderful. So, Chelsey Roney, joining me from Seattle, Washington, on the wet and windy side of America. I think, isn't it, Seattle?Chelsey Roney:
It is. It's very wet and windy.Jim James:
I'm sure that you are putting Seattle on the map. I think there's a small arrow engineering company and somebody else is in Seattle, isn't there? But I think Proxi is going to be on the map. Tell us if you want to find out more about you, Chelsey and Proxi, where can they go?Chelsey Roney:
Sure. I'd encourage anyone to navigate to P-R-O-X-I-.-C-O (proxi.co) to find out more about Proxi. We're at some variation of proxi.co across the web, and we would love to have you using our maps, and we'd love to hear from you.Jim James:
Chelsey, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing with me and my fellow unnoticed entrepreneurs all about getting ourselves on the map. It's been wonderful. Thank you.Chelsey Roney:
Very nice. Thanks Jim.Jim James:
You've been listening to Chelsey Roney. And of course, as always, I'll put all of their details as my guest on the show notes. Thank you for listening. And until we meet again, I wish you to keep communicating and maybe creating your own map. Go to Proxi and check it out. Thank you.