Using Tech to Choose a Business Location

October 19, 2014

 

Even in this increasingly Internet-enabled world, the old maxim “Location, location, location” rings as true as ever. After all, a strong Web presence can only do so much for service companies like restaurants and auto shops. In order for a business to operate at its full potential, the company needs to be located in a place that is not only easily accessible to its target market, but also free of too many direct competitors.

As many frustrated businesspeople can tell you, selecting an ideal location is not always easy. Entrepreneur Jim Robeson experienced this firsthand as he watched his family struggle to relocate their Ontario deli. “That got me thinking, ‘Why is one spot so much better than another?’” said Robeson. “Obviously there’s intuition, but it would be better for retailers to make fact-based decisions.” That’s why Robeson co-founded the analytics startup Piinpoint. Pairing economic data with mapping software, Piinpoint helps entrepreneurs identify the best possible sites to launch their ventures.

For instance, say you want to open a restaurant in your town. Piinpoint first determines your company’s target market based on a number of variables such as age range, income levels, and food and drink consumption. The service then searches your city to see where your ideal customers live, searching through neighborhoods that can be as small as a quarter mile in radius. Once you’ve selected a preferred location, Piinpoint provides a list of available real estate listings. Plus, the service doesn’t stop even after you’ve set up shop. Piinpoint can monitor sales and determine whether or not your business is underperforming. If sales are indeed slow, the company identifies the factors that could be affecting business. While certainly comprehensive, Piinpoint is not at all cheap: the company plans to charge $3,000 a month once they’ve fully launched. Robeson knows that $36,000 per year is a lot of money, but he’s quick to point out the example of his parents’ deli and the potential losses if you choose a location poorly.

 

Questions:

  1. Will budding entrepreneurs be willing to spend the fees required for Piinpoint?
  1. What other problems do entrepreneurs face beside poor location decisions?

 

Source: Vanessa Richardon, “X Marks the Spot,” Entrepreneur, August 2014. Photo by Piinpoint.

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