NBT Solutions, a Portland-based developer of mapping software, has raised nearly a million dollars to drive growth of a cloud-based mapping platform it’s developed for the telecommunications industry.
The company closed the seed round this week, receiving $773,333 from the Maine Venture Fund, CEI Ventures, and a group of angel investors affiliated with Maine Angels and Bangor Angels, according to Will Mitchell, NBT Solutions’ co-founder and CEO.
Mitchell raised the capital to fund further development and ramp up sales and marketing efforts and other “go-to-market activities,” for what’s become its flagship product, VETRO FiberMap, a cloud-based broadband mapping and fiber management system for the telecommunications industry, Mitchell said.
Mitchell and his co-founder Sean Myers, who’s based in Buffalo, N.Y., founded NBT Solutions in 2008 to design and develop custom mapping solutions for various industry sectors, including healthcare, environmental services, and telecommunications. They launched VETRO FiberMap in 2015, and Mitchell said they’ve been winding down work in other verticals to turn all its attention to this one application for the telecommunications industry.
“It’s now our current focus and future growth focus,” Mitchell said. “It’s a highly technical product in highly niche market, but we’re coming in and doing things different. We’re innovating in an old space.”
VETRO FiberMap is a product designed for small- and medium-sized internet service providers, known as ISPs. The cloud-based application maps an ISP’s broadband and fiber network and makes it easily accessible and searchable via any web browser to any employee at any time. From a business development perspective, the application allows ISP employees to drill down into neighborhoods and estimate what kind of return on investment they could receive if they laid fiber down a single street.
Large ISPs like Comcast have the resources for custom solutions, but Mitchell’s play is to offer an easy and innovative option for the smaller players.
“The network mapping used to be stuck in the engineering department, but it’s needed by sales, marketing, planning, maintenance, customer service, etc.,” Mitchell said. “We’re trying to enable small startup ISPs that want to be disruptive in the market.”
The company already has several clients on the platform, including GWI in Biddeford and Pioneer Broadband in Houlton. It also has clients in Canada and a few in South Africa, though the company’s focus is on North America, Mitchell said. Clients pay a monthly fee to use the platform and Mitchell said his focus is on growing that monthly recurring revenue. He declined to disclose revenue figures.
“Forty percent of rural America doesn’t have access to broadband, according to the FCC. So in that rural landscape we feel there’s a lot of opportunities for growth,” he said.
The company is already growing. It recently hired two more people in its Portland office, bringing the total number to nine. It also has five people in an office in Buffalo.
Maine Venture Fund, a quasi-state entity that operates as a professional venture capital firm, led the round. It invested $200,000 in the company, according to John Burns, MVF’s managing director.
“The strength of a deeply experienced team, with a product that had gone through multiple pilots and versions based on consumer need and demand, were a very highly compelling element of this opportunity,” Burns told Maine Startups Insider. “We look forward to working with the NBT team and its board to rapidly grow this terrific Maine company.”
CEI Ventures, a Portland-based VC fund under the Coastal Enterprises umbrella, invested $350,000, while angel investors belonging to the Maine Angels group in Portland and Bangor Angels accounted for the rest of the seed round, according to Mitchell.
“This is our first equity raise and the group of investors we’ve brought onboard have been really constructive and supportive,” Mitchell said. “I hear stories from other places where it’s more like Shark Tank. I think we have some great backers who are going to help us.”