Hackett-backed location service aims to replace Sensis

Summary:New Australian-designed location-tracking platform Geepers could be the solution to deciding whether to have courier deliveries sent to home or work, and it has the backing of Internode founder Simon Hackett.

A new Australian startup is aiming to make it easier to find people and businesses online through a new geo-location name register service, and it has the backing of Internode founder Simon Hackett.

hackett-backed-location-service-aims-to-replace-sensis
Image: Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet

Geepers was created by ex-Australian Navy submariner David Whitfield, and has received backing from incubator firm Bluechilli and Hackett. The service is similar to domain name servers providing name addresses for IP addresses, where instead of locating a particular server, the geophysical name server locates a person or business dynamically.

The names are prefixed with an "!" symbol. When a person searches for the !name, they will be given a list of all of their locations. From there, a person can find their home or current location using either the .home or .now suffixes, respectively, after their name. Geepers is currently working to sign up some of the major companies to the service, and there is a policy specifically banning name squatting for particular brands or companies.

Whitfield admits that there are many services offering similar sorts of location-based tracking services, but said that Geepers brings it all together.

"Virtually everything we do you can already do at some level, but there's no structure and organisation behind it. We're building that structure and organisation," Whitfield told ZDNet.

Hackett said he was drawn to the company because he saw the gap in the market for a geophysical name service.

"There's a genuine gap here. There are lots of ways to try and find people, we're used to Google Maps doing a pretty heuristic job of finding something, we're not really well equipped with the fact that there's still a lot of guesswork there," he said.

"The interest here for me is a new naming space, where I can give you a name to find me, my office, or whatever else I want, and reliably know you'll find me."

The company has been in existence since 2012, and Whitfield said that there are approximately 1,000 users currently accessing a beta of the service that uses Google Maps to display its location information. The company has also pre-loaded address information for thousands of businesses.

One aspect of the service that could have particular benefits for online shoppers who alternate between having couriers deliver to work and home is that the service will let users set their current location to businesses for real-time deliveries. Geepers is about to commence a trial using the service Fastway Couriers within the Sydney metro area to test out how the service could potentially change how courier deliveries are done.

The key to driving take-up will be making the Geepers platform open, allowing anyone to develop applications. Dedicated iOS and Android apps will be released in mid August, but Hackett said Geepers would like to see others develop their own uses for the service, including in-car navigation.

"These things don't get popular unless they're easy to use. The whole intention is that people end up building this into their own apps."

Whitfield said that Geepers is already in talks with two of the biggest business mapping companies in the world — TomTom and NavTeq — to get off Google Maps and help monetise the company with its own advertising.

"We're going with Google Maps at launch, because it is easy, but eventually we want the actual Geepers mapping to be in there from either NavTeq or TomTom, because at the moment you're seeing Google's paid ads; we want those to be our ads, but we want to keep it as uncluttered as possible," he said.

Whitfield said that in the short term, Geepers will look to go back to market around the end of 2013 in an attempt to grow globally, and then said that in the medium term, the company will look to be bought out or float, depending on its success.

Topics: Start-Ups, Australia

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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