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LOTaDATA – Interview with Apu Kumar CEO
June 2, 2020
LOTaDATA is short for "lot of data". A GeoWorks GeoTech, the company is a San Francisco-based GovTech company with offices in Singapore, Bangkok, and Sao Paulo. True to itsour name, itwe sources, collects and analyses enormous amounts of data every day. ItsOur fresh, accurate, anonymised, crowdsourced mobile GPS, WiFi, and Beacons datasets are available for 1,450 cities and metro areas worldwide through the CityDash.ai platform.
Apu Kumar, LOTaDATA’s CEO says: “We’re honoured to announce that LOTaDATA has been included in the GovTech 100 list of companies providing the most innovative technology solutions for government customers for the past three years: 2018, 2019 and 2020. While wewe specialise in technology for civic use cases, wewe also provide AI insights for retail customers, commercial real estate operators, hotels and hospitality businesses, banks and financial institutions, architecture and urban planners, consulting and research organizations, as well as academia.”
1. What is something about LOTaDATA that the general public might not know about?
LOTaDATA takes great pride in diversity. We are an equal opportunity employer and we embrace our differences. We are a relatively small company with less than 20 employees. But we already have employees representing 10 countries and regions, different ethnicities, cultures, and religions. We have brought together and amalgamated our diverse experiences and world views to forge a great company. In our diversity lies our greatest strength.
2. What are some challenges that LOTaDATA has faced?
LOTaDATA coined the term "People Intelligence" and invented the CityDash.ai platform for AI and ML-driven data insights for the public sector and private enterprise businesses.
As a young startup, we were expected to pick our swim lane and stick to it. Every VC, every institutional investor, every angel asked us to narrow our focus, limit ourselves to one city, and one industry vertical. But the mavericks that we are, we decided to blow this space wide open and challenge conventional wisdom. We started collecting data on a global scale from the get-go. We started analysing data and building ML models for cities worldwide.
In doing so, we took on large incumbent competitors, deeply entrenched older data analytics companies, and we figured out how to compete and win. Most startups aim to be the lonely bovine grazing in a lush green field. Reality is that most startups are like the koi fish in a crowded pond. Startups that learn to thrive through such challenges are the ones that rise to the top.
3. How has your experience with GeoWorks been?
We are delighted and honoured to be part of the GeoWorks family at the Singapore Land Authority. When Siau Yong first approached me back in 2017 in a small cafe near sports hub, I immediately recognised that he was a man on a geospatial mission. His drive and vision have ensured that GeoWorks has scaled across the ASEAN region. We are glad that we came along for the adventure.
As part of GeoWorks, we have had the pleasure of meeting with and pitching to business executives and government agencies in Singapore. We have also benefited from the active collaboration with the geospatial community through the GeoWorks network.
4. How does geospatial technology help your clients?
LOTaDATA's clients access daily footfall analytics, movement trends, and geospatial intelligence through our platform, products, and services to make data-driven decisions about:
- Commercial Real Estate and Malls
- Hotels, Hospitality, and Tourism
- City Economic Development
- City Transportation Planning
- Metro Urban Air Mobility
- City Smart Assets and IoT
- 311 City Customer Service
- City Parks and Open Spaces
- City Recreation Programs and Events
- National Public Safety & Homeland Security
5. Are there any challenges that come with working with geospatial technology?
The most challenging aspects of our geospatial business are:
- Data volume: We literally deal with trillions of data points every day. The sheer volume of the data, the compute costs, and the storage costs can be overwhelming.
- Data quality: We are meticulous about data cleansing, de-duping, and fraud identification in order to ensure that our clients receive meaningful data patterns and robust inferences.
- Data visualisation: We invested heavily in our CityDash.ai platform to create an easy-to-use map-based online visual dashboard capable of massive-scale visualisations
6. In your opinion, what skills are needed to work in the geospatial industry?
LOTaDATA is actively expanding our technical team in the ASEAN region. We see the below technical skills as being critical for success in the geospatial industry:
- Data science
- Machine learning
- Earth science and GIS
- Map-based UX experience design
- Large-scale distributed computing
- Domain expertise for target verticals
7. Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
At this extraordinary time, my two cents for global entrepreneurs is to be nimble and stay prepared for black swan events like the virus outbreaks, pandemics, and natural disasters. One must be ready to make fast and decisive adjustments to changing circumstances. In downturns, revenue and cash levels always fall faster than expenses. Sequoia Capital recently shared sage advice with founders. "Business mirrors biology. As Darwin surmised, those who survive are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change”
Name: Apu Kumar
Company: LOTaDATA, Inc.
Designation: Chief Executive Officer