Meet CODE_n finalist Streetspotr

03/12/2014  |  CODE_n Alumni, CODE_n14 Startup CONTEST, Entrepreneurship

Streetspotr is a smartphone app that builds mobile workforce. The German startup from Nuremberg created a fast, easy, and cost efficient way for businesses to collect data and insights from anywhere, at any time and on any scale using mobile crowdsourcing.

Dorothea Utzt is co-founder and CMO of Streetspotr

Dorothea Utzt is co-founder and CMO of Streetspotr

The startup has already more than 220 thousand “Streetspotrs”, people that use the app to earn money doing seriously small tasks using their smartphone. Clients like Red Bull, Microsoft and Sony also employ this mobile workforce. In today’s interview with Dorothea Utzt, co-founder and CMO of Streetspotr, we talk about the trajectory of their company and their expectations of presenting themselves at CODE_n and CeBIT.

What was the inspiration for creating Streetspotr?

Actually, there has been more than one inspiration. Firstly, we came from the App development business and have known each other for years, working together on many projects at different companies (e.g. miCal- the missing calendar). We always wanted to do something “bigger” than the next customer project or simply the next App. As techies, it is no wonder that all of us founders have owned their first iPhone in 2007 when it came out. We played around with them all the time and spend hours and hours checking our emails or Facebook. That was the time when we first thought “How nice would it be if one could do something really meaningful in waiting times with a phone that´s so smart?” When BMW approached us in 2011 asking if we could map parking garages (opening hours, floors etc.) all over the country for them, the idea of Streetspotr was finally born.

Streetspotr connects Big Data and crowdsourcing. How does the app work?

Our premise is collecting data and insights for businesses via a smartphone workforce. Due to the size and scope of our workforce (230.000+ people), we enable them to collect exactly the data they need. That´s our way of “scanning” the mass of data that can be found everywhere, even on the streets and in shops (addresses, opening hours, menus, product placements). You can say that we take a step further than other Big Data companies: Instead of analyzing a mass of data that has no structure and is hard to define, we make it possible to skip that step and simply collect the right data for our customers instantly – anytime, anywhere and on any scale.

To do so, businesses are able to post tasks directly to our workforce via for relatively small and simple campaigns. For larger and/or more complex tasks we consult with the business to develop a customized job description that will be easily understood by the Spotr workforce. We then blast out a notification to all the Spotrs in the location of the task, alerting them to the new tasks available.

Tasks must be completed within a strict time limit, often 48 hours, and always via the Streetspotr app. Results are submitted to a dedicated quality assurance team at Streetspotr HQ, where they are checked using geoverifying tools to ensure that the data was taken at the said time and place. A manual check is performed as well to ensure the data is usable (i.e. sharp image, audible recording). The final results are then reported to the customer. We also provide data analysis and reporting using graphics and map views in the customer portal.

From the perspective of the Spotr, it is a simple case of downloading the Streetspotr app (free of charge and available for both iOS and Android devices). Using the in-built map feature, the Spotrs can see which tasks are available in their area and can start earning money almost instantly. Payment is made directly to the Spotr’s Paypal account.

What are the biggest challenges you have been facing?

In the early days, we had a classic “chicken and egg” scenario. What comes first – the smartphone workforce or jobs for the workforce?
We approached many businesses within our first few months of operation and the response was essentially the same, “Great concept. But…where is your workforce?”

Without a tangible workforce at our fingertips or any successful case studies to draw on, we had a big challenge on our hands. Moreover, on the other side, smartphone owners loved the sound of “the app that pays you” but without any jobs available, they were skeptical.

We learned quickly that we were going to need to create our own jobs for the workforce in order to build momentum. This proved very effective and before long, we had a sizable workforce. Finally, the egg was hatched! Real customers then began to approach us, followed by a plethora of media attention. Almost overnight we had downloads by the thousand. The rest is history… Well, until we launched in a new country and had to repeat the process of building a workforce all over again!

How is the Big Data startup scenario in Germany?

There has been an explosion of new companies developing technologies for collecting, managing, and analyzing the terabytes and petabytes of data being generated by businesses today. Fortunately, however, this explosion of new companies is in proportion with the huge amount of data being generated. In fact, experts estimate that the global data volume in Western Europe alone will double every two and a half years, so essentially what I’m saying is don’t worry- there’s plenty of space for all of us in this industry.

What are your expectations for CODE_n and the future of Streetspotr?

Firstly, we are thrilled to be here amongst such a hub of talent and to be exhibiting as one of the world’s pioneering companies to be “driving the data revolution”. CODE_n is certainly living up to our expectations as the ideal platform to talk about our business plan that is right on the cusp of making it in the big time. Here at CODE_n we are surrounded by tech heads that understand us, investors who share our foresight of what this technology means, real world customers who can see the potential for their own businesses, and everyday smartphone users who are eager to join the Streetspotr workforce. It is the perfecting melting pot really.

As a globally focused startup, we have proved the relevancy of our product in our native Germany and with our neighbors Austria and Switzerland. It is now time for an aggressive expansion into wider Europe in order for us to maintain our status as Europe’s largest mobile workforce and significantly to add holistic value to our service. Finally, we aim to be a completely global offering. Our end goal is to connect businesses with on-the-ground information from anywhere in the world.

Therefore, in a nutshell, the future of Streetspotr is growth. Because, in this business, bigger is always better. More Streetspotrs on the ground equates to the quicker we are able to deliver crucial business information. At the end of the day, this translates to businesses having the confidence to act faster and make smarter decisions and by default increasing bottom lines.