GeoMinds: Is Proxbook the Arrogant Bastard of the Beacosystem?
A California craft beer maker’s strategy could point proximity providers in the right direction, writes New Location Essential’s Stephen Statler.
In the past, we have called this market the beacon ecosystem or “Beacosystem.” We think that Proximity Solution Provider (PSP) is a more inclusive name for the players in this space. While Bluetooth beacons, and in particular iBeacons, have been the catalyst for this market, the space is about a lot more than that.
This ecosystem is about digital to physical convergence; it’s a major on-ramp for the Internet of Things; it’s a mash up of beacons, GPS, NFC, RFID, Visual Light Communication, WiFi, magnetic resonance, and more.
That’s a lot of acronyms. But these are all tools with strengths and weaknesses that sit beneath layers of software and services that have formed as a result of a beacon induced tsunami of innovation and venture capital. Those layers include messaging, campaign management, analytics, fleet management, and, of course, apps.
Specifically, Proxbook is about hundreds of companies that we will cover in the directory. That’s hundreds of highly determined businesses with CEOs, VCs, engineers, partners, and customers.
The Proximity Information Economy
Market efficiency and growth requires information. Entrepreneurs and investors need to know whom they can partner with, whom they are competing with, and where the gaps are. As vendors, our biggest competitor is the status quo, or the decision to wait or do nothing.
Customers need to know that they are investing their reputation and capital in a market that is robust, competitive, and has options. They need to find the right suppliers to meet the expectation they are setting with their stakeholders.
As a market, we need these customer projects to succeed, otherwise proximity becomes a fad, 2015’s “pet rock.”
When I moved to San Diego to work at Qualcomm, there were a number of surprises that the “relo” company didn’t mention. There were the scorpions, the tarantulas, and the wild fires.
On the positive side, there was the beer.
Under the Influence
Unbeknown to me our new house was seven minutes from Stone Brewing Company’s main brewery, producing some world-class craft ales, including the legendary Arrogant Bastard, Southern Californian IPA.
San Diego had just over 50 craft breweries when we moved here. Eight years on, there are over 100.
Why the explosive growth?
One reason is the spirit of collaboration between the brewers here. If you visit the Stone brewery, you can buy beer from their competitors.
Every year they throw a birthday party and invite dozens of other brewers to exhibit their finest offerings. They even collaborate on creating new products with those other breweries. Its clear from listening to Greg Koch, Stone’s CEO, that he sees the primary battle is to expand the craft brewing market, quote “Fizzy yellow beer is for wussies.”
Is there anything we can learn from that?
I believe there is.
Just as “friends don’t let friends drink Budweiser,” I hate to see a retailer stuck in a past where they compete on price rather than “experience.”
Building A New Database
Our battle as an ecosystem is to maintain the momentum and to spend our seed capital wisely. In the proximity market it’s going to be a long road to revenue.
Knowledge of who is doing what is key.
Before Proxbook there was a very basic WordPress database we cobbled together at NewLocationEssentials.com.
I’m working on a book on this space and didn’t want a printed list of Proximity Solution Providers to be out of date before the ink dried. It grew to 80 vendors over the course of a few months.
One of the companies that I advise, Unacast, is in the business of linking Proximity Solution Providers to digital domains including advertising and it became obvious there were some synergies there.
The bigger the pool of PSPs, the more viable the market for an advertiser to invest.
Advertising is all about scale. You can have the best conversion rate on clicks, but if your solution only works in one market, it’s not worth advertisers using your service. As Unacast closed their first round, it became possible for them to invest resources in improving the site.
It feels good to see a basic idea adopted and improved, so as I post this, we will be retiring our trusty New Location Essentials registry and passing the torch to Proxbook.
The response so far has been wonderful. With support from the Location Based Marketing Association, whose mandate is all about bringing the players in this market together, its clear Proxbook will grow fast.
The Arrogant Bastard Strategy of helping to grow their market category has worked well for breweries in Southern California; I don’t see any reason why it can’t do the same for the Proximity solutions market too.
*The former head of Qualcomm Retail Solutions’ Strategy and Solutions Management groups, industry veteran Stephen Statler is principal consultant at Statler Consulting, writing, training and providing advice on the application of Bluetooth beacon technology to entrepreneurs, investors and venue owners. He is an Advisory Board Member of a number of companies pioneering in the application of proximity technology including: Unacast, Rover Labs and PassJoy. Details of his forthcoming book on the “Beacosystem” can be found at www.newlocationessentials.com.
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