Dan Pronovost: Canadian Software Company Whose Core Product Is a Local Discovery App

July 28, 2022

Driftscape is a Canadian software company whose core product is a local discovery app. Since late 2017, through our feature rich mobile and web app platform, Driftscape has helped over 70 unique partners overcome challenges ranging from marketing budget limitations to covid barriers – while keeping their destination top of mind among locals and visitors alike.

Recently, StartUp Here Toronto recognised Driftscape as a company that was “Shaking up Tourism with Metaverse Tech” – making art, history and culture more accessible and immersive. With over 7000 unique sites and stories mapped in the app, Driftscape quickly became a “must-have” exploration tool for people across North America.

Tell us about yourself?

I started writing code at the age of 13 and have continued writing software and building tech companies ever since. Software companies are strange beasts… industry disruption is never simple or an obvious path forward.

But once a technical person experiences the joy of creating a novel software solution that solves a new problem that people and companies want and buy, it’s hard to not become a serial entrepreneur.

This makes the long hours and crazy ride of tech startups addictive! Having successfully helped launch and exit my last tech startup, I joined with Chloe Doesburg, Driftscape CEO, and past technology acquaintances in 2017 to start Driftscape together, which we continue to grow and run together today.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Be more patient, don’t lose confidence when the path forward is not obvious. Smart teams can solve problems that at the time seem insurmountable. Stay the course!

What problem does your business solve?

By empowering organizations to share their stories, in their own voices, on an ad-free multimedia platform for mobile and web, Driftscape provides its partners with positive change from traditional tourism tools like printed guides and static maps. With the help of our unique solution we help: * Reduce costs on print materials.

Visitors guides can cost up to $50,000+/year to print and distribute. Driftscape subscriptions are just a fraction of this cost and provide visitors with added information that print cannot provide. * Increase their ability to provide up to date information with a few clicks. Print materials get out of date very quickly and cannot be easily updated. Driftscape provides access to a content management system which can be updated at any time.

When published, these updates are pushed automatically into the mobile and web applications, at no additional cost. * Gain more insights about their visitors like where they’re coming from and what sites are to them through Analytics provided to each partner.

These insights can be used to help direct marketing efforts in different ways, or to support funding requests that rely on this type of information. * Create interactive experiences for visitors. Through gamified features like Quests, Contests, Trivia and augmented reality view, Driftscape Partners have the ability to engage their visitors with their sites leading to longer visit time and repeat visits. * Create sustainable resources.

By reducing print and relying more on the Driftscape digital platform, Partners focused on sustainability efforts can easily reduce their environmental footprint. * A covid-safe tourism tool.

By leveraging technology already in the hands of visitors, Canadian destinations are able to create accessible, socially distanced, tourism experiences while also helping them to prepare for the future with digital tools.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

We realized 5 years ago that destinations were finding it hard to promote their unique historical, cultural, and geographic points of interest without the pollution of ads and high marketing cost.

The need to monetize user eyeballs in every existing social media channel today makes promoting eclectic and unique sites difficult to impossible.

Only the most significant attractions held the top search results and social media presence. What this meant is that there were hundreds of hidden gems throughout any given destination that the general public just didn’t know about.

Our inspiration was to create an easy to explore, ad-free, mobile and web platform that places multimedia and gamified discovery front and center for users. And we wanted to do this through an affordable SaaS platform for destination marketing organizations, RTOs, BIAs, municipalities, and other cultural and tourism organizations Driftscape creates an unforgettable visitor experience through the use of augmented reality, self-guided audio tours, scavenger hunts, offers and coupons, and location aware notifications.

Visitors exploring a destination will enjoy the immersive experience that Driftscape creates.

What is your magic sauce?

Our magic sauce is our attention to interactive storytelling and hands-on customer support. With an increasing number of unique user engagement features and functionality launched frequently, Driftscape helps organizations and destinations craft one-of-a-kind tourism experiences for visitors and locals.

From mobile app to website, Driftscape is an engaging and very affordable digital discovery platform. And while other location-based apps exist, Driftscape is the only, single solution that solves challenges from traditional methods, while providing all of the benefits of creating a digital discovery tool.

Generally, other digital tools showcase sparse content in one specific area and require users to “pay as you go” – often creating negative experiences. Others crowd-source the data which causes the trustworthiness of the content to be questionable.

Most importantly, all of these tools lack the ability to empower explorers to tour from home. Driftscape, on the other hand, has content available nationwide that can be explored onsite, or from the comfort of home.

We empower visitors to learn about new sites and stories without having to pay to access information and map information owned only by our trusted partners. Plus, each new partner can leverage the marketing efforts of every other partner using the app to attract new users.

Driftscape creates a way for organizations to get the best of all worlds – a sustainable, digital mobile and web tool with powerful visitor engagement features at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Driftscape has succeeded since its beginnings five years ago to become the dominant mobile digital tourism platform in Canada, with many happy customers from coast to coast. With every new customer, we add more amazing unique content for visitors and curious locals to explore.

Our vision is to continue to grow our ad-free platform into the US, Europe, and destinations around the world. We have already expanded internationally with content now available in Thailand and our latest initiative will enable further international expansion.

We are excited to launch our new multilingual features across our full product line this summer, which will start with full multilingual support for French. Driftscape will continue to add new features to help destinations tell their stories and attract visitors. Our product road map includes many exciting features we are working on.

These new features will continue to strengthen our market position as the leader in digital tourism.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Dealing with the tourism industry decline due to Covid was probably the biggest challenge to date. This forced us to adapt, get more lean, and learn how to pivot during changing times.

We were able to overcome these challenges by drilling our efforts down into our core market and spending time understanding the competitive landscape in intimate detail. These initiatives showed us that Driftscape is a top tier discovery app.

There is nothing on the market that can do everything that we can do. Armed with this information, we focused our marketing efforts on presenting Driftscape as an affordable alternative to traditional, expensive destination marketing..Driftscape is an effective tool that works to promote a region safely.

Additionally, as we learn more about our market segments, we continuously adapt our product line to meet customer pain-points.

For example, we learned from the BIA segment that promoting local businesses is an imperative, but very difficult to get high quality and current information, which led us to develop our Automated Business Listings feature: we create the point of interest for the business automatically from online resources, and keep it updated through automatic processes, which allows us to offer these non-editable points of interest at a reduced cost in bulk. This helped us ride through the tough times and continue to grow and secure new customers.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Our partners range from provincial and regional tourism organizations and municipalities to cultural groups, museums and outdoor heritage parks.

Driftscape is a great fit for any organization looking to promote your sites, stories, experiences, events, and/or businesses through a sustainable, interactive tool. You can get started with Driftscape by contacting our sales team at [email protected].

If you are curious about Driftscape, we encourage anyone to simply download the app on their phone from the app store: https://driftscape.app.link/download-app

It’s free, we don’t require or monetize user information, and there are no ads! Start exploring now, to learn more about the hidden gems in your community and elsewhere. Or, just explore from your browser any time: https://www.driftscape.com/driftscape-for-web

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