DBDC Event Review: Hungry for Data, the Inaugural Data Business D.C. Meetup

This is a guest blog post by Blaire Jones, who does all kinds of things at DC-based web analytics startup Spinnakr. We greatly appreciate this write-up! Attended an event you'd like to write about? Please let us know! The Data Business DC Meetup kicked off on October 23 with a food data-theme and a full house at Everfi’s new office on the edge of Georgetown. The founders of Feastie and Venga  (both accelerating at Fortify) and the CTO of Sentrana presented their companies’ uses and monetization of food-related data.

Feastie, a startup founded by physicist-cum-data scientist Valerie Coffman, is both a search engine for home cooks and an analytics engine for food companies. Feastie’s technology crawls thousands of food blogs, collecting data that gives cooks both an illustrated recipe and a list of needed groceries for free. The same information—parsed down to the brand and ingredient-level—provides intelligence for food companies (Feastie’s customers), who use Feastie analytics to identify and evaluate bloggers as prospective endorsers for their brands. The slides used in the presentation are available here.

Venga, founded by Sam von Pollaro and Winston Lord, is a company that helps restaurants monetize data from customer orders and experiences. Venga’s technology analyzes data in restaurant point of sale systems and matches it to customers and contact information, so restaurants know how to target offerings accurately and efficiently. Venga also pulls data from OpenTable for experiential information, and offers a white-label loyalty program to provide similar intelligence for restaurants not using OpenTable.  You can enjoy the Prezi-based presentation here.

Sentrana is a growth company that helps the world’s biggest food suppliers gain pricing and marketing intelligence from its sales data. Suppliers use that information to optimize marketing campaigns, targeted down to the individual restaurant- or even ingredient-level. CTO Demetrios Kotsikopoulos explained how difficult it is for suppliers to derive intelligence without automated data analysis, since catalogs contain hundreds of thousands of items, which are often priced independently on a week-to-week basis by salespeople.

All three companies talked about the importance of human judgment and intuition to successful use of their products.

As a final note: Feastie slides, containing beautiful images of food from their recipe site, would have made anyone hungry. Fortunately, Sean Murphy (@sayhitosean) and Rob Vesco were prepared, and offered a remarkable array of empanadas and libations before and during the event. Data-preneurs continued the discussion after the Meetup at Bayou.