The Rise of Alternative Data and Foursquare’s Pilgrim to Sophistication

By Dennis Clemente

Guests panelists talked about alternative data with Foursquare, Captricity presenting their companies

NEW YORK–Last March 1, the Data Driven meetup hosted by Matt Turck sat down with his guests to talk about about alternative data (no relation to alternative facts). The guests were Jeff Glueck, CEO of Foursquare; David Loaiza, managing director & chief data scientist of Point72; Andrej Rusakov, founder of Data Capital Management as well Matei Zatreanu, founder of System2.

Zatreanu explained alternative data as a non-traditional form of data, later adding how it’s more intuitive. Still,  many seem to be downplaying its advantages.

What are the uses of alternative data? Before handing you a credit card, banks could determine other alternative means of data if usual information is not available. This could certainly make institutions less rigid, as it helps measure different types of businesses on a case-by-case basis.

Alternative data is certainly turning data scientists more creative in sourcing data. Even marketing people now have to know how to use it. For those who would like to learn, here are 30 startups providing alternative data, as listed by CB Insights.

For Foursquare, Glueck said it’s being used by companies “looking  to find an edge.”

“This whole area is changing in general. It’s becoming competitive in every industry,” he said, citing how every CMOs of Fortune 500 companies are now asked to have the same accountability in RoI.

“They’re asked, ‘What’s the RoI in your (advertising) spend?’ That’s revolutionary,” he said.

What web 1.0 and 2.0 did for the digital industry, it seems alternative data is doing for the analytics industry.  “This is creating room for disruptors to come in.”

Loaiza and Rusakov also shared some use cases. Watch the video below to learn more what alternative data means and what it can do for your business and investments.

The meetup also showcased two companies, Foursquare and Captricity.

Glueck reminded us of the company’s astounding predictions of late. First, Chipotle’s 30 percent first quarter sales dip on Medium in April last year and it’s subsequent mixed recovery.  Analysis was determined using foot traffic  from check-ins and visits, especially from Swarm app users. Then last September, Foursquare predicted sales of iPhones to hit between $13 million and $15 million. It was $13 million.

The location intelligence company is also now a data company that counts on its proprietary technology software development kit (SDK), Pilgrim, among other tools in its arsenal. Pilgrim is a kit to find a user’s location by looking at historical check-in data. It is said that marketers can plug this in more than 90 million locations and into their own apps.

In showcasing his company Captricity, CEO Kuang Chen  talked about how his company extracts and transforms data from handwritten and typed forms.

Founded in 2011, the company can reportedly extract data from paper documents, scans, faxes, emails, call centers and web forms while also linking automatically with back-end systems of its predominant customers in the insurance, healthcare and nonprofit sectors. Imagine eliminating costly manual data-entry processes and to top it off, making it possible to enable use of advanced analytics to organizations, especially in depressed areas where accurate data can mean improving, if not saving lives.

“We’re on a mission to democratize data access, and it’s exciting to see how our proprietary technology is able to dramatically improve operational efficiency and transform the user experience for our global client base,” Chen said.

Here’s a thought. Back in the day, normalizing data was really messy that even the cause of death was never “digitized” into data. Now that traditional method can come back to life in digital form, so to speak



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Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.

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