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Columbia Business Monthly

Social Mapping Firm Broadens Scope

Nov 01, 2017 02:14PM ● By Emily Stevenson
By AnnaMarie Koehler-Shepley

At first glance, a wall that’s covered floor to ceiling in printed maps might look both disorienting and a bit dated. But for Lanford Holloway, founder and CEO of TerraStride, a tech company specializing in social mapping, these printed maps are a physical rendering of five years’ worth of hard work.

TerraStride, founded in 2012, offers two products: a recreational web and mobile application, HuntStand, and a commercial land management service, TerraStride Pro. And after listening to user feedback, the next service the tech company is (somewhat ironically) working toward offering is large and extremely high-resolution map printing.

“We started this company with the idea of making it so that printed maps are kind of obsolete—you don’t need the printed map, because it’s on your phone or your tablet or computer,” Holloway, 34, says. “And now everybody wants a printed map of what they create.”

 From weather and climate to land specifications, like demarcation of food plots and property boundaries, TerraStride’s products help provide a virtual and, with the new map printing component, tangible representation of land that may be otherwise inaccessible.

The company’s first product, HuntStand, an app that allows you to create, edit, and share different maps, launched in 2013. Like the name suggests, the app is geared towards the avid hunter. It features the company’s patent-pending HuntZone technology, which tracks weather, wind speed and direction, as well as shows and predicts where your scent will be throughout your hunt.

Holloway first thought of the concept while looking at a prospective property on his phone and realizing that he couldn’t manipulate the interface the way he wanted to.

“I was thinking, ‘This is kind of frustrating,’ because I have all the tools in my hand: a phone with Internet and an amazing satellite image,” Holloway says. “We just needed to create a layer that sits on top of that that you can annotate, personalize, and share with friends.”

He pitched this concept at a business contest at the University of South Carolina, where he was earning his master’s degree in International Business Administration. It was voted the best business plan by the class.

“I started thinking, ‘Maybe I really have something here,’” he says.

Holloway and his team launched the first version of the social mapping app, spending little to nothing on marketing. In the first two months, they were thrilled to see that the app received 60,000 downloads. After its initial success, Holloway rebranded, naming the overall company TerraStride and renaming his initial product from TerraStride to HuntStand.

Since then the app has been downloaded more than a million times and has the same number of active and engaged users—two of many feats that Holloway says would not have been possible without the talent and dedication of his team.

“From there, it became obvious that there was a parallel market for the mapping software that we were already building, but for large tract property management,” he says. “There were properties being sold, and the way that these huge, multimillion dollar tracts of land were being sold was literally the way that you would see something listed on Craigslist.”

To fill the void in both commercial property mapping and marketing, TerraStride came out with its land management product, TerraStride Pro. According to Holloway, it has about $6 billion worth of property listed on it today.

While its users span the globe, TerraStride’s company headquarters is still located in Columbia. Holloway, who says that he sees the potential in his hometown, has no plans to leave.

 “[Columbia’s] expanding and growing and becoming more vibrant all the time,” he says. “I wanted, if at all possible, to help in some small way with that. Traditionally, Columbia has been so dominated by government and lawyers, and it’s definitely not historically been known as a tech hub, but I really do feel like that’s changing.” 

TerraStride is adding printed materials to its catalog, but first and foremost, it’s still a tech company, so Holloway is most proud of his teams’ ingenuity in developing the software behind this launch.

 “We’re very excited about it. We’ve created software that we truly believe is the best available anywhere,” he says, adding that the company’s also worked out a licensing agreement with Google. “These maps almost become a piece of art: people hang them up on the wall of the office or their clubhouse. At the very least, it’s a conversation piece, and at the most, it’s a great tool.”