In October 2014, Geofeedia, the pioneer in location-based social media intelligence, closed a $3.5M Series A round of financing led by Hyde Park Venture Partners. Their plan: to invest heavily in their software platform, double the size of their team and triple their user base. Just over a year later, the innovative industry leader has accomplished all three goals, and positioned themselves for even more impressive growth in 2016.
"We've made huge investments in the software platform," Geofeedia CTO Scott Mitchell said. "As a quick estimate, I think we've doubled the size of our infrastructure...Everything runs in the cloud on Amazon Web Services and the Google Cloud Platform, so we're a multi-cloud company."
Investing heavily in infrastructure has allowed the company to begin serving up data to its customers much more quickly.
In addition, their data repository grew from just about 3 million items a year ago to approximately a billion and a half today, with the current capacity "an order of magnitude beyond that." The result? Even greater insight into any given location for the company's growing legion of customers.
Naturally, journalists adopted Geofeedia early on. Research used to require sifting through the noise of hashtags and keywords in search of reliable information. Now, simply selecting the location of the story’s event and quickly absorbing posts from multiple social media channels for eye-witness accounts and perspectives is the new norm. As Geofeedia becomes ever nimbler, media’s use of the tool will continue to expand.
But perhaps the most significant of the company's customer base to date has been the public safety market, which experienced considerable growth in 2015, primarily through word of mouth from agencies which successfully used Geofeedia for community outreach.
According to Mitchell, the company acquired a significant number of customers each month since the initial investment in all of their primary service areas, including marketing, media and journalism, and public safety.
Such growth has necessarily meant adding to the Geofeedia team. Since the financing round, the company has added to its staff in Indianapolis, Chicago and Naples, more than doubling the size of their team since last December.
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Hiring the right team members has been a significant challenge for the company. More concerned with passion than with formal education, the company is building a unique culture, focused on disruptive, transformative innovation.
"While we have openings now for software engineers, we don't necessarily go out and recruit just for software engineers, " Mitchell explained. "It may be a hardware engineer, a computer engineer. It may be someone who has another vocation but has dabbled in software engineering all of their lives. We're not looking for folks that were necessarily trained for software engineering in college, but instead we're looking for people who have a love and a passion for it that goes back to even their earliest days as maybe a fifth or sixth grader, when they first started programming. By building the team with people who have similar passions that go far back in their lives — all the way back to childhood — we've found that the connection that they make when they first come onboard flows naturally through to the products they deliver at work and the excitement that they come in with every day."
Geofeedia also seeks candidates with an appetite for the latest, cutting-edge technology.
"We especially like people who are interested in moving to the latest and greatest systems... people who have an appetite for going out there and doing R&D and testing certain technologies. Some of the latest things might break, and you might fall over while you're trying to kick the tires with them, but once in a while you're going to find one that really takes off and works well, so we're trying to build a team that loves being on the cutting edge, is passionate about technology, and all throughout their lives have been, and that is energetic, has a great sense of urgency, and a competitive desire as well, because we love to put the best product out there to market," Mitchell said.
Where will this innovative team lead the company in 2016?
Although Mitchell was hesitant to give away company secrets, he did say that marketing and branding will be a primary focus for 2016, hinting that some discussions are currently underway with social media outlets that offer targeted advertising services, such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Want to sell season tickets for the Kansas City Royals? How about targeting fans who posted about the team from the stands last year, rather than wasting time and energy on people living in Kansas City who may have never even been to a game? Geofeedia allows advertisers that kind of targeting power. Advertisers are certain to respond.
Mitchell also hinted that there are bigger plans on the horizon: Geofeedia is positioning itself to take on a much bigger role in the GIS industry.
"[GIS] is something we're starting to get into more and more." Mitchell said. "By that, I mean not necessarily hooking into major GIS platform providers like the Esri's of the world, but instead, figuring out ways to use GIS technology to move the state of these applications into the hands of end-users, so that they don't have to rely on GIS analysts or complicated server platforms to get the answers they need."
Geofeedia builds niche products to specifically address the use cases of their customers, providing those customers access to location intelligence without requiring the specific training or advanced skill sets of a GIS professional.
"We aim to extract all that back-end heavy lifting and make information available in a very user-friendly interface," Mitchell said. "So I think one of the things we'll tackle in the next year is: how do we get the things that GIS analysts are doing, out into more commonplace user scenarios, onto the end users' desktops as opposed to just in the backroom with the analysts?"
The market will no doubt be eager to see the company's answers as it continues to evolve through 2016.