Meet StreetLight Data, a geospatial analytics startup from California and co-winner of the IBM SmartCamp North American Regional. They’ll be competing for the title IBM Entrepreneur of the Year next month in NYC, Feb. 5-7! This is part 5 of 8 in our Meet the Global Finalists series. Register for the public session on Feb. 7th here.

1. Briefly, what is your company’s solution, how does it work, and where did the idea come from?

StreetLight InSight™ helps retailers target marketing dollars by providing next-generation geospatial analytics on how potential customers move around their city. We measure what type of people are on the move at any location and break down this data by time, trip purpose, demographics, and work/home/top shopping locations. Our technology is a data factory which analyzes data exhaust from the mobile industry and marries it with existing public sources to create our metrics.

The idea came when we realized that the technology that we had invented (see below) had value for a lot of people, but that brick-and-mortar retailers were the most ready, willing, and able to pay–since their marketing metrics are about 20 years behind their e-commerce counterparts’.

In June 2012, Streetlight Data was named North American Co-Winner of the SmartCamp Regional Finals in Boston.
In June 2012, Streetlight Data was named North American Co-Winner of the SmartCamp Regional Finals in Boston.

2. Explain how the company was born; who are the key players on your team and how did they come together?

StreetLight was founded just over two years ago by Laura Schewel (CEO), as an extension of her PhD at UC Berkeley. She realized that, compared to most other major components of the economy, we know absolutely nothing about transportation behavior and that this gap limits all sorts of progress we want to see in transportation: from  reduced greenhouse emissions to improved quality of life and safety. After founding StreetLight Laura began looking for a database expert and a data licensing and privacy expert to complete the team, and was introduced to Paul (CTO) by friends, and found Kara (VP of Strategic Partners and Privacy) by trolling online.

3. How will your solution impact people’s lives for the better?

Three ways: First, we will support brick-and-mortar retailers, including small ones, improve their bottom line thereby keeping this important part of a vibrant community able to compete in the coming decades. Second, our data is also of great value to improve urban planning and transportation infrastructure design, and we will support Smarter Cities and Smarter Transportation that rely on much less petroleum. Third, creating a system that incentivizes shopping on a route people already drive (home to work, for example) we can reduce vehicle-miles-traveled, and therefore, petroleum use.

4. What is the best advice you’ve been given or the most important thing you’ve learned in the SmartCamp competition so far?

Your investors and your clients don’t REALLY care about your technology. Tell them about the value instead.

5. In what ways do you hope working with IBM will help your company grow and succeed?

We hope we can work with IBM’s software and consulting teams targeted at brick-and-mortar retailers to help better understand our market, and then to quickly scale our product.

Smarter_Commerce_Icon_6206. What is the main reason your company should be named IBM SmartCamp’s Entrepreneur of the Year?

Transportation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas in the world. And the world has made VERY little progress in stopping this trend. StreetLight offers a scalable, financially sustainable information product that, once it exists, can be of great value not only to the mission of making transportation smarter, but also making cities smarter AND commerce smarter. The fact that the same product does all three validates and celebrates IBM’s vision of an integrated Smarter Planet, and that’s why we should be the Entrepreneur of the Year.