Smart navigation firm PAM finds its way to the US
14 March 2023
Picture the scene: it’s the day of the 56th Super Bowl. Around 70,000 sports fans have to make their way from parking lots to the right entrances at SoFi Stadium. But your entrance is located in a 300-acre precinct filled with shops, offices, residential buildings, parks and open spaces.
How do you ensure the day doesn’t descend into chaos?
Simple: you deploy PAM’s smart solution and app called ‘Digital Wayfinding’. The Sydney company’s platform combines digital signs with QR codes and live, interactive maps to guide punters quickly and safely through the precinct to their seats. They can also use the platform to find retail destinations, shop for merchandise and discover places where they can post a selfie on social media.
Over the next 5 years, PAM’s technology will guide millions of spectators at the FIFA World Cup in 2026 and the Olympic Games in 2028. The company is also working with the organisers of the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.
PAM’s journey to the US was facilitated by Austrade. The agency has provided assistance over several years and hosted PAM at its Landing Pads program in San Francisco.
‘If you want someone to open the right doors at the right organisations, Austrade will open it for you,’ says Stephen Minning, Founder and CEO of PAM. ‘They’ve been instrumental in our export journey, and we couldn’t have done it without them.’
Personalising places for people
PAM’s wayfinding solution is an integrated, cloud-based navigation platform. The company was spun out of a project at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), where it developed smart screens, personal wayfinding and foreign language translations. UTS was one of the first Australian universities to adopt smart digital signage on its campus.
From there, PAM started licensing the platform to design companies. It worked with Transport for NSW on the Transport Node upgrade and with NSW to create smart wayfinding for hospitals. It has also worked on 30 projects around the world.
PAM’s journey to the US began in 2017, when it entered and won the WeWork Open Challenge competition. Its prize was a place in the elevate67 accelerator program, hosted by KPMG Australia. The company’s technology generated ‘a huge amount of interest’, says Minning.
Austrade opens doors in the US
PAM’s warm reception in the US spurred the company to make a serious move into the market. In 2018, Minning took part in Austrade’s Landing Pads program in San Francisco.
‘The program introduced us to contacts and networks at the right level,’ he says. ‘That factored heavily into our success. We met other Australians who shared their experience of the tech market in the US. Their input helped us engineer our product to fit the US market.
‘We also worked with Austrade to scope out clients who were aligned with our commercial targets,’ adds Minning. ‘They brokered introductions and set up meetings with all the main players at the right levels in the organisation.
‘Austrade also introduced us to the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia (AmCham). That led to some valuable contacts and encouraged us to open an office in the US.’
Helping 100K people find their way at LA’s largest stadium
PAM appointed a US-based account manager in 2018. The manager helped secure the company’s first major project, the US$6 billion Hollywood Park sports and entertainment campus in Los Angeles.
This was a huge win. Hollywood Park is a 300-acre mixed-use site that houses SoFi Stadium, YouTube Theater, American Airlines Plaza and the NFL’s new West Coast headquarters.
It is also a huge venue. SoFi Stadium has capacity to expand to 100,000 people. It is home to the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers football teams and hosted the NFL Super Bowl in 2022.
SoFi Stadium will host the FIFA World Cup in 2026 and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Olympic Games.
PAM deployed its Smart Navigation Platform across the site, including 250-plus district digital signage touchpoints. The platform manages every phase of the visitor day from start to finish.
The platform also enables dynamic branding updates across hundreds of digital touchpoints at events. QR codes make it easy for visitors to access online content using any smartphone.
‘We rolled out a premium technology that delivers like nothing else,’ says Minning. ‘This high-profile project and client gave us brand recognition in the US.’
Major wins during the pandemic
In early 2020, PAM opened an office and training facility in Las Vegas to demonstrate its platform.
‘Las Vegas made sense because the huge number of conventions would give us massive exposure,’ says Minning. ‘COVID-19 slowed but did not stop our growth. We used the time to build our profile and showcase our product.’
PAM’s work during the pandemic paid off. It has started working with officials in the City of Las Vegas through the Downtown Vegas Alliance. It is also working with organisers of the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.
‘Trade shows have proven effective,’ says Minning. ‘Talking to the right people in an organisation has also been key. They are not always the technology people so look for the influencers in the business.’
A market that welcomes Australians
Today, the US market contributes 70% of PAM’s total revenue. The company has an office and a sales rep in Los Angeles.
‘Americans love our technology,’ says Minning. ‘They’ve opened their arms to Australia – because there are a lot of great ideas coming out of here. You get welcomed like no other nationality.’
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