dataPlor Raises $2M to Digitize Small Businesses in Emerging Markets
In Latin America, there is growing disparity between the emerging digital food delivery market and the number of businesses in the region with an online presence.
As food delivery startups continue to expand throughout Latin America, VCs are becoming increasingly involved in funding mega rounds, with hopes of capitalizing on consumer online buying trends within the region’s growing digital populations. This activity may have contributed to dataPlor's recent funding round.
dataPlor raised its third round of seed capital, bringing the company’s total amount raised to $2 million USD. The most recent round was led by Quest Venture Partners, along with participation from ffVC, Magma Partners, Sidekick Fund and the Blue Startups accelerator.
Founded in 2016 by Geoffrey Michener, dataPlor’s platform recruits, trains and manages a network of over 100,000 independent contractors — what dataPlor calls Explorers— who are tasked with feet-on-the-street visits to local businesses to capture information like latitude and longitude points, photos, hours of operation, owners’ names and contact info, and whether or not a business accepts credit cards.
dataPlor then licenses this data to multinational companies like American Express, iZettle and PayPal. The company also works within a joint partnership to digitize Mexico with Google and Virket. In its first three years of operation, dataPlor has gotten 150,000 Latin American businesses onto Google.
According to Founder and CEO Geoffrey Michener, dataPlor pays their Explorers above-market wages, and is cautious about “not using the Uber model to drive down the cost of paying contractors" (Tech Crunch).
Michener told Tech Crunch that 80% of Mexican businesses don’t have any digital footprint, and less than 5% of businesses have a website. The lack of local businesses’ online presence affects the reach of what Google can index, as well as from where delivery services like iFood subsidiaries or Rappi can deliver.
“Basically, offline businesses are missing out on new digital distribution opportunities and, therefore, big cash.”
In the U.S. and Europe, companies like Google and Uber power their platforms by scraping data from online directories. This process works differently in Latin America, however, considering that in emerging economies, most businesses are still offline and therefore have fairly limited chances of showing up in Google’s index.
“Michener likes to think of his business model as a trifecta of helping small businesses get onto Google for free, creating part-time opportunities for a growing workforce in LatAm and using its tech to help Google and Uber become better populated with accurate info in geos that might be more difficult for a foreign company to access” (Tech Crunch).
dataPlor first launched in Mexico and has expanded into Brazil — an aggressive move for a young company due to Brazil’s competitive startup scene and Spanish-Portuguese language barriers. Company representatives say dataPlor will expand to Chile, Peru and Colombia in 2019. According to Tech Crunch:
“dataPlor’s tech stack could pique interest for any company that wants a hand in the digitization of growing markets. Now that they’ve built a playbook for Explorer logistics, that operational piece of their business may be interesting to companies like Google, Apple and Uber too”.
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