John Frandsen has lived in the kind of places that would make any powder fiend or mountain bike enthusiast envious – and he’s used an impressive skill-set and entrepreneurial intuition to create business ventures in each of them.
John moved to Whitefish, Montana in 1997 from Fernie, British Columbia and previously was based in Park City, Utah. In Fernie he had been working with a cooperative of local lodges, restaurants and the ski mountain to build a community-wide marketing program for the southeastern British Columbia community.
New opportunities arose and he was looking for an alternate location from which to base his endeavors. “We felt we needed 3 things: FedEx, a fast internet connection, and air travel access. Whitefish offered all those things and a great quality of life. It was a fairly easy choice, really.”
In the late 90s John began developing internet applications that integrated online mapping. One of their first big projects was developing a database for every National Forest in the country, allowing for both quantitative and qualitative analysis of what visitors could expect. That project attracted the attention of well-known outdoor equipment manufacturer, Coleman, when the company was looking to diversify and expand their services. John and his team created the “Coleman Outernet”, a site that allowed the company to enter the world of information services – providing their customers interested in the great outdoors with all the beta they needed on what to do, and where to do it.
“We’re in a business that requires constant innovation and thought. Montana gives us the space to think clearly and to be innovative. Instead of sitting in traffic, we’re riding our bikes or skiing the nearby mountain. That kind of environment is a good garden for innovation,” ”
They were deploying online mapping technology long before Google Maps made online mapping more commonplace. This became the first stages of mapping-integrated content management.
Together with Ken Deeds, Noel Whelan, and Jennifer Frandsen they took the best lessons learned from previous mapping-integrated online projects John had worked on and developed the next generation of a product called “GeoConsensus.” It is probably the most advanced mapping-integrated content management system available today.
Their team has now grown to five and they have deployed GeoConsensus on projects around the world, from Ecuador to the Western Balkans. National Geographic was an early adopter, realizing how a content management system like GeoConsensus was a perfect fit for many of their initiatives that involve place-based content.
GeoConsensus now powers many National Geographic projects and is also powering a growing cadre of mobile applications.
“We’re in a business that requires constant innovation and thought. Montana gives us the space to think clearly and to be innovative. Instead of sitting in traffic, we’re riding our bikes or skiing the nearby mountain. That kind of environment is a good garden for innovation,” says John.
John credits the robust community of developers that live and work in the Whitefish area. “Good thinkers are attracted to quality of life. That’s why we are able to find and recruit quality talent. We can offer them not only money, but the amazing lifestyle of Montana.”