Create Location Analytics With Placed
Geo-tracking is a big trend these days, incentivizing users (think FourSquare) and helping businesses understand their customers better. So, it’s no wonder that Placed is offering location analytics to create an even better understanding of the power of geo-tracking. We caught up with Founder and CEO David Shim to talk about domain drama and Series A success.
How’d you come up with the name Placed?
When trying to come up with a name for Placed, we knew we wanted to focus on words associated with location. The problem was that many of these words were generic, and thus the domain names and their variations had already been registered years ago, and in many cases decades. Buying these domains from speculators was not an option at the time as we were in bootstrap mode, so we went down the route of looking for variations on location-based words in different languages. We quickly realized this wasn’t very original as those domains were all taken as well.
Ultimately, we decided to be a little creative and ended up with Sewichi and the domain name sewichi.com. The backstory around Sewichi is that “Se” translates to 3 in Korean, and “wichi” translates to location, thus, “location, location, location.” We actually liked the story associated with the name, but the problem that we ran into was that people couldn’t pronounce it, and worse they were afraid to mispronounce it. The name needed to change, but we were still operating under the radar, so there wasn’t a rush to rebrand. At the same time, we started to reach out to the owners of the generic domains that we were interested in, and began to gauge pricing.
We really liked the name Placed, as it resonated with our core business, which is assigning a set of locations to a place. In May 2011, we started discussions to purchase the domain name placed.com, and the initial response was in the high 5 figures. This was outside of our budget, and we came back with an offer in the high 4 figures that we were willing to close on in 48 hours. We weren’t able to find a middle ground, and thus walked away from the transaction.
Fast forward 5 months later, and we reached back out to the owner of the domain name, and reiterated our last offer, along with the fact that we were ready close on another domain name (true) in 48 hours. This strategy worked like a charm, as we transferred ownership of Placed.com that week for less than $7k. One of the key takeaways from this experience is if are going to walk away from a domain name, really walk away. By waiting 5 months to restart conversations we did risk someone else buying placed.com, and at the same time the domain owner had to reflect on the fact that they missed out on an opportunity to cash out a domain they may have owned for many years with very few serious offers.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
Work starts the minute that I wake up. I grab my smartphone and review emails from overnight, along with updated metrics from internal dashboards. This quick review dictates whether I need to open up the laptop at home, or can wait until I get into the office.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
Placed started with a single founder, myself, and in the past 18 months has grown to 13 employees. Additionally we’re actively looking to grow the team by at least 4 employees in the next few months.
Building the right team in the right way has been critical to the early success at Placed. With our hiring, we focused on individuals with a strong history of execution. We not only looked at what immediate value an employee could bring, but their upside potential when put in the right situation.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
There is a saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none”. As a founder, I would adjust the saying by stating you need to be “Jack of all trades, master of some”. The bottom line is that if there is a roadblock, it’s up to you to find or facilitate a solution. This can be as simple as calling in a cousin to spend a few days manually matching two data sets, or finding an alternative solution for internet access when your primary connection is down for a day by activating multiple smartphones with Wi-Fi hotspots enabled.
How do you handle frustration?
I think the best way to handle frustration is to prevent as much of it as possible through proper planning to eliminate surprises, which are a primary cause of frustration. Beyond planning, having a strong team that is accountable for their work has also been a vital to the progress we’ve made at Placed. A strong team not only produces high quality work, but they also proactively address issues as they arise rather than waiting for someone else to identify them.
What’s your office environment like?
The best way to describe the office environment at Placed is focused. We’re going after large market in terms of mobile and location, and the level of difficulty is incredibly high, resulting in a very focused office environment.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
When the market thinks location analytics, Placed immediately comes to mind.
How’d you fund this venture?
Placed raised a small seed round in early 2011, and announced the close of a $3.4m Series A in March 2012. The Series A was led by Madrona Venture Group, along with participation from Shane Atchison, and me.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
Placed is quantifying the physical world for apps and mobile content. Prior to Placed Analytics, location analytics was limited to a count of visitors by country, state, and city.
For example, using Placed Analytics apps can now see that 28% of app users are nearby a restaurant when interacting with their app. Going a step further, app developers can see that the highest ranking restaurant is McDonald’s with 12% of nearby visits. Additionally, we can determine the rate of speed when content was being consumed, allowing a product manager to gain insight into new features to enable (ex. voice controls if a high % of users are interacting with the app while in transit) and ultimately increase user engagement and ratings in the app store.
In an effort to drive adoption of location analytics, Placed is making Placed Analytics a completely free solution. It literally takes less than 30 minutes to create an account and insert the Placed SDK into an Android or iOS app. Our goal is that if an app uses location, they use Placed Analytics.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
Thanks David! Check out Placed to “measure, aggregate and analyze the paths and places you take in the real world.”