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The Streamline team.
The Streamline team: Yeskendir Kassenov, Peter Hu, and Joe Lee.

For a brick-and-mortar store owners that want to open new locations, it’s not always easy picking out the optimal place for expansion.

Streamline wants to help. Founded by three Stanford grads, the new startup aggregates hard-to-find data that helps businesses pinpoint the best places to open a new store. The company offers information related to region demographics, population, competition, and more.

“Right now, smaller retail owners don’t have direct access to this type of data,” CEO and co-founder Joseph Lee said.

logo_blackbgStreamline’s original business idea was about improving the efficiency of customer service hotlines. But Lee said there wasn’t enough consumer demand for the product, so his startup pivoted to the current model after it arrived in Seattle to be apart of the newest Techstars class.

In the past few months, Streamline has found that small retailers looking for a new location often work with brokers who sometimes prioritize selling properties over finding clients an optimal location to conduct business. Streamline is designed to be a more helpful alternative.

“The broker has different motives,” Lee said. “There’s a lack of transparency.”

Streamline, which is initially focusing on restaurants, will be pitching with nine other startups at today’s Techstars Seattle Demo Day. We’ll be covering the event, so check back on GeekWire for a recap.

In the meantime, we caught up with Lee for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We tell retail stores where they should expand to next.”

Inspiration hit us when: “We found a customer pain! A large chunk of our past few months was spent doing customer development. Seeing the struggle that store owners face when expanding their businesses was the turning point for StreamLine.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Angel — we are still early stage. VC — holler back in a few months.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “The granularity of the data we are able to collect. We creatively gather invaluable information that store owners spend months to years trying to get.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Sticking to finding the customer pain. We are constantly tweaking the focus of our company to match the needs of our customers. At the end of the day, you have to build what the customers want, period.”

streamline111The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We started by hitting up the APIs before hitting up our customers. We quickly learned that it should be the other way around.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “That’s tough, but I’d have to say Bezos. Amazon has done an unbelievable job bringing the offline world to the web. In a lot of ways, that’s what we’re doing, too, by giving retail owners access to data about what’s going on out in the physical world.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “We tell In-N-Out to come to Seattle. And they listen.”

We are truly unique because: “We are the one-stop destination for all data that store owners need, we provide an intuitive visualization of the aggregated information, and we give intelligence behind the data.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Catching up quickly on the learning curve of what it takes to do a startup. Coming straight out of college, we had more experience with engineering — not building a business. Techstars has been a huge part of our growth in becoming entrepreneurs.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Validate first, code second.”

Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the 10 startup companies participating in the TechStars Seattle incubator in the lead up to the Demo Day pitch event and launch party today. 

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