Question: What is the name of your business?
Your Answer: Caliper Corporation Mapping Software
Question: Where is your business located (city & state)? Who are the customers you serve? What products or services does your company provide?
Your Answer: Maptitude is developed by Caliper Corporation at our USA Headquarters in Newton, Massachusetts, and we are proud of the contributions that we have made to the local and national economy as one of the few entirely USA-based mapping companies. Maptitude is used by almost every type of company from Fortune 50 companies to mom and pop shops and the local pizza delivery guy. Maptitude is used in retail, restaurant chains, real estate, franchises, healthcare, banking, and in business in general.
We provide the easy-to-use and affordable business mapping and location intelligence tool Maptitude. Caliper is also the developer of TransCAD Transportation Planning Software and TransModeler Traffic Simulation Software.
Question: When did you start your business? Why did you decide to start your own business?
Your Answer: Caliper’s software applications are being used around the globe and are making businesses and governments more efficient and effective. Dr. Howard Slavin, who specializes in the transport of goods and urban spatial structure, founded Caliper Corporation in 1983 as a developer of mapping software. Caliper is recognized worldwide as a leader and innovator in the development of transportation analysis and Geographic Information System (GIS) software. Caliper Corporation produces Maptitude, a general-purpose GIS, and the specialized transport GIS, TransCAD.
Question: Did you quit your "day job" to start your business? How did you initially fund your business?
Your Answer: Prior to the formation of Caliper Corporation, Dr. Slavin was the Director of Marketing Research at Charles River Associates. In that position, he directed the company's marketing research projects for clients in a wide variety of consumer and industrial markets. Early in his career, Dr. Slavin was also the Chief of the Evaluation Branch of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and served as the Chief of the Information Systems Development Branch of the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
His diverse experiences led him to want to develop cutting edge mapping software for businesses and transportation planners.
Question: What has been the biggest challenge in running your company?
Your Answer: In the early 1990s, Howard Slavin, founder and president of the software firm Caliper, noticed a disconnect between the rapidly increasing processing power of desktop PCs and the expensive, specialized hardware being used for political redistricting in the USA.
Caliper had been producing mapping software for tasks like transportation planning and market analysis, but the company saw an opening. Slavin originally planned to market the company’s standard mapping software for redistricting, but he soon realized that a modified product tightly tailored to the needs of groups drawing lines on a regular basis would do even better, and Maptitude for Redistricting was born. At first, the company sold it to groups such as the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Committee that wanted to check if the lines drawn by politicians were biased against the constituencies they represented. Over the ensuing years, Maptitude became the industry standard for redistricting.
Question: What’s been the biggest opportunity that came from owning your business?
Your Answer: The opportunity to develop TransCAD: the first and only Geographic Information System (GIS) designed specifically for use by transportation professionals to store, display, manage, and analyze transportation data. TransCAD is the world’s most widely used travel demand modeling package with more than 7,500 users in 70 countries. In the U.S., it is the standard or predominant software package in more than 27 states and has been used for the largest models such as those for the New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver and Detroit regions. It is also used by a majority of state Departments of Transportation, leading transportation consultants, and research universities.
Question: What has surprised you most about being your own boss?
Your Answer: That products from well-established companies can be so suddenly removed from the market, such as Microsoft MapPoint. While surprising, Howard predicted in 1998 that “If [Microsoft] don't sell millions (of copies of MapPoint) will they give up?”. Maptitude is now the preferred replacement for MapPoint.
Question: Is there a success tactic you’d like to share that could help other business owners (i.e. implementing new software, tactic to grow sales, etc.)?
Your Answer: Focus on customer needs. That is the best way to grow your market and be in fortuitous situations. By listening to customers and developing software based on their requirements, Maptitude became the obvious choice for businesses looking for a MapPoint replacement when Microsoft discontinued the MapPoint software.
Question: What’s the best piece of advice you could give to other small business owners?
Your Answer: Use mapping software to analyze your market. You will be surprised how the visual interface of a mapping tool helps you unearth patterns hidden in your spreadsheet data.