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Interview for CESA Awards: Making urbanization and local decision making smarter with telco data

For the recent Central European Startup Awards (CESA) our Director of Business Development, Matej Misik, gave an interview about the work we do, how important our company culture is to us and what the perks & challenges for operating out of the CEE region are. Below is part of the interview, read the whole text on the blog of CESA awards.

“Can you tell us in one sentence what you guys do?”

Telco providers have invaluable residual big data from their operation, Instarea enables them to provide this big data as a service to municipalities, small & medium businesses which through it understand how populations behave in the physical world. Having understood that, we also enable municipalities to send targeted communication / marketing / warnings in a highly targeted way. Market Locator is thus kind of like a Google Adwords & Google Analytics for the physical world 🙂

“Why did you and your co-founders (if you have any) decide to build something like you do today? What was your initial inspiration or problem you wished to solve?”

We had been working with telcos & their data for quite some time as consultants. That got us thinking why all this value is just lying around as a cost, why can’t it be put to work. Just as Google, Facebook and other online giants have their business model centered around the insights they have on how we use their services. We wanted to replicate this for the more traditional businesses such as telecom companies or banks and to empower small companies, large companies & cities with the wealth of insight hidden away in corporate residual big data. That’s how Market Locator came to life.

“What excites you the most about your work, and what is that single moment in your past that you are most proud of?”

The single most exciting thing is being at the forefront of global tech with the great group of 35+ friends we have within Instarea. Sometimes we still have trouble believing we really have such a unique solution, it’s such a great feeling when you talk to board members of major telco companies, who have seen almost all there is to see, and they are genuinely intrigued by the possibilities that could be achieved with their data. And we are also proud of the way we have tried to democratize the access to these big data capabilities — to really deliver such insight to companies of all sizes, from small cafe to major corporation to municipality.

We are also proud of our motto #fromSlovakiaWithLove 🙂 A small country is a great playground for ideas and we are now happily delivering these ideas with love & passion throughout Europe and the Middle East.

“…and fails? We all have them, but what were your most spectacular ones? Of course only the ones you wish to share”

I guess this is an issue of all startups… We get carried away easily and in the past have been distracted in many different directions — experimenting with creating a new crowdfunding environment, playing around with biometrics, developing some mobile apps… It’s not easy to focus on the core job at hand, but it’s very easy to get hyper exciting about something and blindly pursuing it 🙂 But I hope we have gotten better at this and are more focused & strategic 😉

“We all know entrepreneurship is a difficult road to take, especially in the world of startups; are there any mantras, hobbies or routines that you use to keep your mind and body healthy?”

At Instarea, in general, we are quite an active bunch 🙂 So it’s about carving away that bit of time to go running during lunch and trying to be strict about having weekends for family & friends, not work. That’s why our career pages are more about Life at Instarea, not just work at Instarea. By the way — join our bikers & runners clubs on Strava 😉

“What do you anticipate the most for technology in the forthcoming 5 years? What are the things that knock your socks off?”

Personally, I’m really excited about additive manufacturing, and directly in our office building, we have a really cool company working on democratizing the 3D printing ecosystem, to make it more accessible — check out Vectary. The second thing I am super excited about is blockchain tech and the potential shifts we can achieve in the data monetization area, especially in terms of how data ownership will adapt and what it can mean for the sharing economy. We have some cool ideas ourselves 😉 Finally, a third super exciting area where also the two previous meets is health technology — health has been an area which has been really slow to adopt tech & data possibilities, lots of room for blowing socks off in health tech.

“Who are you most excited about in your local startup ecosystem and why?”

In Bratislava there seems to be a really thriving startup ecosystem in tech. Hard to name them all, but… I think really highly of our friends at Exponea with whom we work closely on some projects. Also, Vectary which I mentioned above. And a cool newcomer is LadyTechnology who are going to market with Kegg, an awesome non-hormonal contraceptive piece of tech.

“In your opinion what are the single best and the single worst things running a startup from Central Europe?”

Single best are for sure the people, we have a really dedicated & driven team. We have been raised to appreciate the freedoms the current European Union provides us. Unlike our parents, we have endless travel & business opportunities and want to make the most out of these. Hmm, single worst is probably the perception of CEE especially in Western Europe, with that post-communist sticker lingering in the air. But it is changing and getting much better 🙂

Find out more about life at Instarea and open positions on our career page. We look forward to having a coffee with you on our summer terrace 👍

Matej Misik

Director Business Development at Instarea. Experienced data monetization consultant. Holds a MSc degree in Economics from the Tilburg University and a BA degree from the WU Wien.

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