Published July 26, 2017
In some ways, Geocove is the perfect example of a company drawn to Western New York for all the right reasons.
The small company competes in the technical world of GIS — geographic information systems. CEO Karyn Tareen is a UB graduate who was lured back to Amherst from Florida by the quality of graduates from the GIS program at UB and by the benefits of being in the START-UP NY program.
“I had the company in Orlando, in the University of Central Florida business incubator, and I was hiring interns, but they were computer science majors, not GIS majors. There is no GIS program at Central Florida,” Tareen says. “It’s not as easy as you would think to teach CS students about GIS. They have to think spatially.”
GIS involves the creation of very smart online maps that contain lots of information about what is on the maps.
“GIS is taking the power of seeing something spatially and adding on the back-end database, like taking Google maps and tying on an Excel spreadsheet,” Tareen says. “Tying them together and making them really intelligent.
“I can’t think of one business that wouldn’t be helped by GIS.”
Typical clients are local governments that want to keep track of the structures in a community in case they are damaged, or to study the routes their trucks or buses take to find more efficient patterns. Epidemiologists use it to track disease outbreaks.
“For damage assessments, our customers can make an inspection and get the federal money turned on, which is a very important thing,” Tareen says.
Most of Geocove’s clients at this point are in Florida, where counties and school districts must be ready for hurricane or storm damage. However, the Town of Tonawanda is a client, as is the city of Melbourne, Australia.
“Our newest tagline is: We like to solve the problem of ‘where.’ Where have my assets not been maintained this year? If I am law enforcement, where are my hot spots at certain times? If I am the fire department, where are my hydrants that have not been maintained this year?”
Tareen says her firm sells and helps customers with the software from GIS giant Esri, as well as writing new software for specific functions.
“We’re a value-added reseller,” she says.
Tareen worked for Esri, which is comparable to Microsoft in terms of its market domination, for 10 years before branching out on her own. She is one of at least 50 UB graduates who have been hired by Esri, which comes to UB annually to recruit students.
Tareen says she learned about the START-UP NY program while working in Orlando, and applied to the economic development program. When Geocove was accepted, she and her husband moved their family to Western New York. Now, given its proximity to UB — the company is located in the UB Technology Incubator on Sweet Home Road — she hopes to grow Geocove into a 25-to-30 employee GIS company.
“In this area, even though we have this fantastic school and we have these huge resources available, the students graduate and they have to leave,” she says. “I would really like to build a GIS services company located here.”
Geocove hosts “lunch and learns” for GIS professionals in the region that draw 12 to 15 geospatial professionals.
“We’re trying to become the GIS expert in the region, and we’re a women-owned business. We’re hoping we can start expanding quite a bit.”