Location-based services are hot, and it’s not just because people are using drones to map the world and find a better route through traffic. By offering a map analytics engine and going open-source, Brooklyn, NY based CartoDB has boasted a 300% revenue jump in the last year and attracted about 100,000 users, a 3.5 times increase since the same month last year. The company uses a freemium model where you can gather intelligence about location data for free up to a certain level of data processing, then start paying for more analytics.
Their growth strategy has led to a 2.5 times jump in how many people are viewing map data, a 2.7 times increase in how many data sets are processed each month, and a 2.6 times burst in live map viewing. In part, the fuel for this growth has to do with how many users need to analyze mapping data for their location data sets for financial services, data visualization needs for those selling and using wearables, and an increasing interest in mapping driver data. And, yes–the company also has users trying to understand mapping data captured by aerial drones.
Yet, CartoDB has made some smart decisions to push their product out to the masses. One of the key differentiators involved making the software easy to embed online. The maps and visualizations can be embedded into WordPress, on blogs, and even into sites like Reddit and social networks without extra coding. That means anyone can use and analyze the data, which in turn increases awareness. The software is robust enough for data scientists but engaging and useful for anyone with a passing interest in parsing out location data.
Another strategy provides a good lesson in how to ramp up a company at an early stage. Many companies try to target smaller firms as a way to rack up early sales. CartoDB first became available in 2012. The company decided to target the tentpoles of mapping services, and now boast both Google and Twitter as customers. They also focused on large, high-profile online publications to generate word of mouth. For example, the Wall Street Journal uses CartoDB, so the analytics and visualizations are getting some widespread attention.
It helps that CartoDB is free up to a set level of usage, and this open source model is not just a way to lure people to the software. There are hundreds of thousands of data sets that are free to use, libraries of data set tools available, and many APIs to help developers.
The company has grown steadily and now has 51 employees, offices in New York and Madrid, and–in the true measure of success in terms developers understand–209 repositories on GitHub. It meets a felt need for understanding location data, from large companies trying to understand where people are using credit cards to one guy flying a drone.
Editor’s note: Traction Watch is a new column focused obsessively on growth, and is a companion to the DEMO Traction conference series, which brings together high-growth startups with high-potential customers. The next DEMO Traction will take place in Boston on September 16, 2015. Growth companies can apply to present, or those similarly obsessed can register here to attend.