By Nathan Boulbil and Elliott Verrault of www.stat.io
In November 2012, Accelerate Cambridge invited entrepreneurs from all over Cambridge to take part in its first Startup Weekend event, a business competition where participants were asked to present ideas and build a defensible business case in just 54 hours. It was an intense and challenging weekend in more ways than one but, most importantly, it provided an early platform for Stat.io (then ProjectPolicy.org) to come to life.
Our big idea then was to unify, organise and visualise all of the world’s increasingly available but increasingly disconnected open government data onto one intuitive visual platform. It was an ambitious idea but certainly one whose time had come with over 50 countries and 160 regions and cities with open data portals at the time, all publishing data in different formats, languages and geographical divisions. Our idea resonated well with the judges and eventually got us first place by Sunday evening. Winning the event enabled us to secure a place for ourselves at Accelerate Cambridge, a new startup accelerator programme set up by Cambridge Judge Business School where participants were given access to various industry mentors as well as experienced startup coaches, on top of access to office space at Cambridge’s very own – and increasingly famous – “Number 10” Trumpington street.
Winning Startup Weekend Cambridge 2012 brought us to London less than a week later where we competed against the other UK regional winners at the Google-sponsored event, Silicon Valley comes to the UK (SVC2UK). We also came out of this nation-wide event victorious and, as a result, were invited to San Francisco a month later by Google to go pitch our idea[/pullquote] at two startup competitions and to various people in the Silicon Valley tech community, including Google themselves.
Needless to say that as all of this happened very quickly, we were glad to have Hanadi Jabado and Simon Stockley by our side along the way. We returned from Silicon Valley in February inspired, having won a special prize from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for our technology, and were able to walk back into Number 10 and hit the ground running with great support from Hanadi and her team.
This acceleration process enabled us to fine-tune our idea and materialise it into a stronger business. In summer 2013, we graduated from Cambridge and started working full-time on Stat.io. A few months later, we learned from Hanadi that we were being considered as one of the first startups for the new CJBS accelerate fund. As a home-grown Cambridge project, we were ecstatic to see the university interested in supporting us even further.
Fast-forward a few more months, Stat.io has now grown into a multinational big data company with offices in London and Santiago, Chile. The team is now exploring new ways to leverage its proven location intelligence technology in other sectors, including financial services. These are exciting times for the Cambridge-grown big data company but wherever it takes us from here, we will always remember our roots and our earliest supporters at “Number 10”.