Smartphones are now outselling personal computers. And that little factoid from IDC is creating an interesting opportunity to measure, track and analyze mobile data. A new startup called Sewichi — bankrolled by Madrona Venture Group and housed at the venture firm’s downtown Seattle office space — is looking to take advantage of that opportunity.
Founder David Shim, who previously worked at aQuantive, Farecast and Quantcast, tells GeekWire that there are a lot of traits on mobile devices that make them interesting from an analytics perspective.
“If you look at the phone itself, there’s always stuff that people do on the phone. There’s the person that’s actually using the phone; there’s the signals that you get from outside of the phone, which includes GPS, Wi-Fi and cell phone triangulation, and then there are other variables such as time of day, place, etc.,” says Shim. “I think all of those combined create a really robust opportunity to mine that data and find interesting insights.”
There are already a number of companies trying to make sense out of mobile data. In Seattle, that group includes Ground Truth, which raised nearly $10 million from Voyager Capital, Steamboat Ventures and others.
But Shim points out a key difference between what he’s doing. Ground Truth works with carriers to obtain data, while Shim said that Sewichi will go directly to consumers and businesses for the data.
That’s a similar approach to Bellevue-based Root Metrics, which is also harnessing user input. But Root — unlike Sewichi — is focusing exclusively on carrier network performance.
“They do a great job at doing that,” said Shim. “We are not trying to get anything around signal strength.”
Sewichi is still very much in the early-stages of development, and Shim isn’t saying too much about the specific product direction (other than to say it will not be an ad targeting platform).
The company, which employs four people, doesn’t plan to launch the service until this fall.
In addition to the financial support of Madrona, the company has lined up a group of advisers that includes Zaaz co-founder and CEO Shane Atchison; Quantcast principal scientist Peter Kassakian; and Decide.com senior software engineer Jeff White.
Shim actually returned to Seattle from San Francisco four months ago to start the new company. He later connected with Madrona, which provided office space and financial support of the new venture. (He declined to say how much the company has raised, but Matt McIlwain and Scott Jacobson of Madrona led the deal).
Shim said he’s encouraged by the startup community in Seattle, pointing to some of his former colleagues from Farecast and aQuantive who’ve now gone out to create new companies.
“I really like the environment here,” he says.