Urbanico is a smart cities data fusion platform helping companies from the private sector to efficiently utilize hyper localized urban data.
They are a team of tech entrepreneurs from Israel. For both founders, entrepreneurship is a way of life. Both of them have experienced the rollercoasters that come with building tech products on their own. Dealing with the good and bad times that their journeys bring.
Yuval Shafrir, the CEO & Co-founder, has previously founded a retail startup that successfully merged with one of Israel’s largest retailers. Yoni Levi, the CTO & Co-founder, developed an algorithm trading platform, as well as functioned as the first engineer at the CIDR, a unique data science center in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
They have already signed their first commercial contract with Bird, a leading US electric scooter unicorn, to improve their scooter’s placement strategy across the US. Additionally, Urbanico is negotiating additional contracts with fortune 500 insurance carriers.
Their lead investor is a major Israeli-American gigantic fund with participation of an Israeli-based Angel group.
With this record, no pandemic will stop Urbanico from achieving global expansion.
We asked Yuval how Urbanico has been reacting to the global crisis that COVID has brought on us and our cities as well as how they have been able to secure $1M of their $1.3M investment round.
Yuval, why did you and Yoni start Urbanico? Why getting yourselves into the trouble of solving such an intricate and convoluted reality within the urban space?
Urbanico started by coincidence. In my previous roles, I noticed the many arguments and problems people were having within the urban space. That made me realize a painful truth: urban data is a mess that is impossible to understand. “Impossible” is a word that ticks every entrepreneur, and what triggered me and Yoni to start our own company together. It is not a secret that our cities are changing, currently half of the world’s population is living in cities and that number is growing rapidly. COVID-19 has just shown all of us how fragile the current systems are and how they lack resilience. As technologists, it all starts and ends with data. Data has the ability to transform the way our cities operate, the way we all work, commute, travel, experience or in general – live. Urbanico is built to help our cities become truly smart by incorporating urban data in the day to day decisions of all the services we consume as residents. We are not doing it by placing whatever type of sensor out there, but by treating the urban landscape as a unified living organism that keeps on growing and evolving.
The current climate makes cities all over the world deal with their greatest fear: not being able to successfully handle major crises with the current scattered and insufficient infrastructures. How does Urbanico deal with the urban challenges COVID brings?
COVID-19 has shifted the priorities of every industry on the planet and cities have been greatly impacted by the pandemic. In the pre-COVID days, urban mobility was the hottest topic and solving congestion was the a top priority of almost every large city. When COVID hit, suddenly, other domains like public health and public safety have emerged while urban mobility has now been researched from a whole new perspective. Urbanico’s approach was very inclusive in the first place, we saw that data that is categorized as “public safety data” such as crime incidents, has huge impact on real estate, health and even on urban mobility to some extent. This inclusive approach helped us a lot to rapidly shift focus to answer cities and residents most pressing issues.
On top of dealing with clients and the rapid changes we are all facing now, you are also in the midst of raising capital for you current round. How has that experience been for you given the fragile global economy?
We believe that investment is part of the journey and if you have a compelling and rational story, that is addressing a (very) big market and is backed by the right team, then you’re on the right track. All there is left is to go out and talk to investors. One thing that was truly helpful for us was to be as clear and honest as possible with our investors, showing them the big picture, as it is. As founders, we tend to pretend that everything is perfect, but good investors have gone through the journey once or twice before, so they know that uncertainties are an integral part of the journey. I think that being honest and reaching out to your investors for advise is a very important skill we all have to develop, especially in times of crisis.
Most businesses had to pivot to answer new emerging needs. Did you have to work with industries you did not work with before?
Absolutely. As mentioned, we had to shift our go-to-market and focus on different use cases. For instance, the ride-hailing domain was badly hit by the consequences of the pandemic while industries like logistics (especially last mile logistics) are seeing huge revenue growth that comes with great operational issues that our data can help with. Another good example is the insurance industry that struggles in adapting their risk models to such a dynamic environment that we are all experiencing these days.
Often times, entrepreneurs are believed to exude better coping strategies than most people. What mindset or beliefs help you to keep afloat during this crisis?
Part of it was already described in the sections above but I would love to re-emphasize it – Be Honest, listen as much as possible and make bold moves. Times like these are only present once a century and it is quite a cliché to say “every crisis holds great opportunities” but I think it is our duty to not only stay positive but act, and act strongly to create a better world then the one we had before the pandemic.
You emphasized the importance of taking action. That it is not enough to understand and know but to do and follow through. From your perspective, how do you follow through?
“In god we trust, all others must bring data.” It’s a quote of William Edwards Deming, a great statistician that is becoming more and more accurate as we move into the future. Data should and will be the backbone of every move we make and every decision we take. Our mission at Urbanico is to make this data ready, available and accessible to everyone!
Currently, Urbanico has only $300k left to raise to close this investment round. If you want to participate in this round, send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reach out to Yuval on his LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yuvalshafrir/
Visit Urbanico at: https://urbanico.io/