This NYC Startup Raised $23M for Finding Data on You



Every community in America is a little bit different, and the farther away you go, the greater the difference. While you may be able to detect these subtle differences, the Data doesn’t always. CartoDB understands this, and is making smart data that is location sensitive. With the company’s recent Series B round of funding, Founder and CEO Javier de la Torre sits down with us and explains how they are going to lead the ‘location data revolution.’

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

CartoDB raised a $23 million Series B investment round, led by new investor Accel Partners, with additional participation from new investor Salesforce Ventures and existing investors Earlybird Ventures and Kibo Ventures.

Tell us about your product or service.

CartoDB leads the world of location intelligence and data visualization, empowering any organization and individual to extract valuable insights from location data. CartoDB transforms layers of geospatial information into data driven maps that enable visual discovery of trends and patterns to make better, faster decisions.

Biodiversity and distribution of NYC trees

A map of NYC Trees Broken up by Species visualized via CartoDB

What inspired you to start the company?

We were founded by Sergio Alvarez and myself – two scientists working in biodiversity and conservation who wanted a better way to display their results. There were many tools for analyzing data, but they weren’t accessible, and displaying findings required expertise in analysis, graphic design, and location intelligence. This seemed unacceptable at a time when more information was being collected about human behavior than ever before, and everyone from insurance agents to journalists to UN aid workers needed a way to analyze, display, and discuss it.

Javier (2)

Javier de la Torre

How is it different?

Originally, location intelligence was strictly the domain of map-makers and data scientists. CartoDB’s technology however makes it easy for virtually anyone to create beautiful visualizations using either their own data, or data from CartoDB’s open-source library. CartoDB recently unveiled One-Click Mapping, which has the ability to detect geospatial data in extremely large data sets, and provide suggested maps to the user, who can then customize and alter them as they see fit. CartoDB’s software is powerful enough for PhD’s, but its One-Click Mapping feature is simple enough for beginners.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

CartoDB wants to democratize location intelligence and make it easy for anyone to draw insights from the data and information that’s pertinent to them, their business, and the world around them. CartoDB’s software is being used by everyone from big banks to analyze credit card use, to pop-culture writers to analyze the impact of the latest Beyonce album.

What’s your business model?

CartoDB is a Software as a Service. Anybody can get an account and start doing analysis and visualizations in their web browser. Depending on how much data they need or the privacy required there are different commercial plans to choose from. At the enterprise level CartoDB offers a complete set of enterprise-ready functionalities to ensure data connectivity, single sign-on, effective collaboration and SLAs.

What was the funding process like?

CartoDB raised $8M in late 2014 to expand into the US, its largest market. In the last 12 months, user growth has been nearly 400%, prompting us to raise an even larger round to fuel that growth and hire new people to join our growing team. In September, we raised an additional $23 million from prestigious investors like Accel Partners and Salesforce Ventures. Some of our existing investors also participated in the round as well.

You raised nearly a year ago. How was it different this time around?

CartoDB has experienced rapid growth in the last year. We’ve more than doubled the number of enterprise customers, as well as doubled the size of our workforce. We also relocated our corporate headquarters from Madrid to New York City.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

We are opening a new market for location intelligence. That means we need to explain not only our product and current clients, but also draw attention to a future yet to be created. We are a SaaS company and KPI’s are important, but understanding the potential of this new market is something that takes time and effort from the investor’s side.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

Location data is increasingly becoming a core component of business intelligence and analytics. We are empowering anybody to create great location data visualizations, enabling visual discovery and extraction of valuable insights.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

Using this funding, we will be able to accelerate product development and research, ramp our sales team, increase marketing and expand our partnership as well as business development programs. On the product side, our clients will see faster release cycle of enterprise functionalities and core visualization capabilities. A larger research team will allow us to provide new location intelligence analysis functions and faster analysis than before.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

The sooner you start planning to raise funding, the better. The funding process takes a substantial amount of time that you may not always have. Keep in mind that it is not only about the capital. It is also about working with the right investors for your company who will share insights and that you enjoy working with.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

In the future we believe every organization will use the location component of their data to improve the understanding of their world, and make better and faster decisions. We are building CartoDB to lead this revolution.

Where is your favorite place to enjoy the fall weather in the area?

I just came back from Vermont after spending a couple of days by Lake Champlain and I loved it up there. I used to work at the Botanical Garden in Berlin and got to see lot of beautiful gardens around the world, but the New York Botanical Garden up in the Bronx is pretty amazing.

Wildfires in the summer of 2015

Wildfires in the summer of 2015 visualize via CartoDB

About the author: AlleyWatch

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