ISV Spotlight: CrowdScan
Who are you and what do you do in the company?
My name is Ben Bellekens and I am the CEO of CrowdScan, along with three other co-founders. CrowdScan is a spin-off of Imec and the University of Antwerp, CrowdScan has developed a solution for measuring and analyzing crowd density in real-time using a wireless sensor network.
We also provide crowd density prediction services and integrated crowd management solutions. CrowdScan’s technology is based on six years of research at the University of Antwerp and Imec.
Tell me more on your product/platform.
We invented a technology that is able to estimate the number of people in an area of interest such as public spaces. This is achieved by using sensors that are attached to walls or poles. These sensors are completely wireless, waterproof and no larger than your average smartphone. Roughly 20-30 sensors would be deployed on a busy shopping street, these sensors communicate with one another via radio signals. From here we interpret this data, we look at insights and trends that might affect retail or even crowd safety.
Our accurate, real-time, privacy by design and unique sensor technology provides you with all the data, analytics and insights you need.
Why should a customer use it?
Customers of ours such as crowd or festival managers and retail owners, see a lot of CCTV cameras. These cameras only see what’s happening directly in front of them or in a very specific area depending on the lens. If something does go wrong in a crowd scenario these CCTV cameras offer very little information to those who need it, the insights you get from these cameras will be quite limited.
These insights are crucial to all customers dealing with crowds as they are needed to prevent any future incidents. At CrowdScan we recognize this need, our technology provides our customers with real-time data that allows them to perform crowd management in an improved manner.
In terms of retail, the information provided is less about safety and more focused on data regarding the volume of people shopping on a particular day or time. For example, a customer may want to know what is the value of opening on a Sunday, our real-time data will provide the data for this all while considering the public’s privacy too. This enables business owners to make better decisions for their company and employees.
Have you been in touch with some of our supporting programs and/or people?
We were in touch with Microsoft very early on, quite soon after this startup was founded. Microsoft saw a lot of potential in our technology from a commercial point of view but also was eager to collaborate with us and provide their help where necessary.
This is when we were introduced to the Microsoft ISV Co-sell programme. This programme allowed us to co-sell our solution with Microsoft and implement our technology on the infrastructure of Microsoft. This was of great help to us.
What was the major added value you saw to get our support?
For me, the major added value from Microsoft’s support was definitely receiving feedback. We spoke with Microsoft about various different topics such as our pricing model, our business model, our strategy, where should we place this on the market, and how big is this market? To receive advice from a company with experience like Microsoft was just invaluable.
You have an offer on the marketplace now. What does it mean for you? What do you expect?
We had a false expectation of receiving a large amount of customers almost immediately. Our offer on the marketplace has helped us greatly but I would just advise other companies to have patience with this, you will achieve results in time.
To conclude - what would be the best advice for a company that would like to follow your path?
The biggest piece of advice I would give is to understand that it is a two-way direction of communication. Do not expect Microsoft to do your sales for you, they will introduce you to customers and maximize their effort, providing their clients with the right solution in the right sector. Their help is invaluable but you also have to be transparent and also ensure you play your part. Overall I would highly recommend another ISV to seek this help from Microsoft.
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