Geoff Michener and dataPlor — Blue Startups Alumni Spotlight
Continuing our alumni spotlight series, we caught up today with Cohort 10 member, Geoff Michener, CEO and Founder of dataPlor. dataPlor focuses on delivering the highest quality international Point of Interest data (also known as “POI” data) to capture highly accurate business location insights in growing economies. dataPlor’s data-rich strategy leverages a combination of approaches, including AI and machine learning, government records, image recognition, and human verification, to provide the most accurate location and POI data available. Since graduating from Cohort 10, the company has expanded to four continents in the last year, including Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Africa, across twenty countries and growing.
Can you start by giving us a general update of how the dataPlor has grown in the last year?
This past year we have scaled to more countries across the globe and expanded our team from 15 to 20 full time employees. Initially, when we started the program at Blue Startups, we were operating in Mexico, with plans to grow in Latin America. In addition to Latin America, we’re now in Southeast Asia- including Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, The Philippines, and Vietnam. This also involves new regions of Europe and Africa, including Poland, Greece, Egypt, and South Africa. The plan right now is to continue to capture new markets and serve more locations, and further develop our existing datasets. There are a number of location and POI data providers in the U.S., but there is very little focus on providing accurate data in growing economies where there are big gaps in data quality.
With COVID are international brands relying more on data insights to inform decisions around growth?
COVID’s effect on emerging markets has generated incredible demand for more accurate business location data. Brands want to know the latest intelligence of what’s happening on the ground, since businesses are constantly closing, moving, and reopening, creating issues and inaccuracies with data–especially since the pandemic.
We’re seeing a strong demand from many different types of organizations, including consumer brands, technology providers, insurance and financial enterprises, and ecommerce platforms, including many companies working in the geospatial realm. There are numerous use cases surrounding international POI data and it’s much broader than we imagined.
What is the split between AI and physical verification, and has that changed at all in the last couple of years?
At dataPlor, we use a combination of techniques to achieve the most accurate information possible. The process starts with data collection from government databases and other publicly available sources. We also leverage photo imagery technology that allows us to collect and extract data from on-the-ground imagery. Once we have accumulated the data, we run it through our machine learning algorithms and AI call bots to ensure we are focusing on the most up-to-date information.
In what we describe as the “last mile” of the process, we have a field team that works in-country and on-the-ground — the final step to fill in the potential gaps. Our data validators go to storefronts and verify the establishment’s existence. We started out relying more heavily on in-person field work and physical verification but we’ve seen a shift that allows us to work smarter and check more of these boxes through incorporating machine learning and AI. Now we focus close to 90% of the process on tech and our algorithms.
Our competitors aren’t taking on the investment to develop this comprehensive approach — they may be only basing their data off one or a combination of these things, but we have a fully mapped out solution to solve the challenges with international data. Because we leverage all of these unique methods, we’re able to deliver the most accurate, up-to-date information to our clients.
How do you decide what countries you expand to next?
It’s based on the market demand right now — we have to go where our most important customers tell us to go. Data insights in these locations inform our decisions because we can capture those markets that are lacking in accurate POI data. Currently, our biggest task is working on growing the pipeline in Southeast Asia. We want to expand our understanding of these markets, especially in India and Japan–some of the most populated countries in the world.
Where do you plan to use the money from future funding rounds?
Primarily onboarding new hires — product leaders, sales/marketing hires, but especially. engineers to take our team to the next level and to allow us to scale to more countries (50+in 2022).
To learn more about dataPlor, visit: http://www.dataplor.com/