Ever wonder what happens to startup companies after they’ve won an IBM SmartCamp? We caught up with Streetlight Data, the North American Co-Winner from the regional SmartCamp event in Boston this past June. We asked founder and CEO Laura Schewel what they took away from their SmartCamp experience and where the company is now.
Give me your elevator pitch: what does StreetLight Data do and why is it unique?
StreetLight Data describes how people use their city. What web analytics does for e-commerce, we do for in-store commerce. We provide metrics like: for this corner on a typical Tuesday afternoon, what percent of people coming by are over 40? Make less than $60k/year? How many are going shopping? For the retail ecosystem this means answering questions that have never before been answered: Who is coming by my store and NOT coming in? We also open up insights that can radically improve transportation and urban planning. Our solutions depend on our Route Science(TM) engine, which puts messy transportation data in context, leveraging archival data exhaust from the location-based services industry.
What do you think was the key to your winning SmartCamp Boston?
I think we won Smart Camp Boston for three reasons. First, our product provides a linkage between Smarter Commerce and Smarter Cities, both of which are pillars of IBM’s Smarter Planet strategy. Commerce and good urban quality of life and jobs should go hand in hand, and both should be able to exist in a world that has mobility without relying on fossil fuels. StreetLight highlights the fact that it’s all connected.
Second, we are extremely enthusiastic about what we do. We love it. That came through to the judges, and they consider that as an indicator of entrepreneurial success, even though we were earlier stage than the other companies in Boston.
Third, what we do relies on data and analytics. IBM loves data and analytics.
How has your SmartCamp experience shaped the company? Is there anything you do differently now?
The mentoring sessions directly shaped our pitch to investors. For example, we lead with examples of projects and clients using our product, instead of a “big picture” intro.
We have also started to learn more and meet more people within the IBM family, learning how to set our product on a path to be collaborative with some of the IBM services and products.
In what way did the SmartCamp experience help StreetLight Data most?
For such an early stage company, IBM’s stamp of approval has been an extraordinary way to boost our credibility with clients and investors. Also, being able to point to IBM’s commitment to commercial and city-oriented analytics markets, and their research into these markets, has validated that they ARE markets worth exploring by big and small companies alike.
In this economic environment, what is your best piece of advice for new
Get a paying client. They will teach you more than 12 months of R&D could about what your product and business will be.
Responses provided by Laura Schewel, founder and CEO of Streetlight Data.