Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
My name is Geoff Michener and I am an international business leader with over a decade of experience solving complex problems in big data, small business, and enterprise space. My passion for helping small businesses was during my experience studying abroad in Nicaragua and working in restaurants throughout high school, college, and grad school. Working on another data startup opened up eyes to the potential of untapped data in emerging markets and how improved access to hyperlocal data would benefit companies operating in these markets. Thus, the idea for dataPlor was born.
What exactly does your company do?
DataPlor helps global companies succeed in emerging markets by providing hand-collected and verified business data. We work with over 100,000 trained independent contractors, called “Explorers,” who are on the ground, collecting data using our proprietary technology. Once data is verified, we deliver business records including precise locations, product information, business hours, points of sale, and much more. Our services help companies cultivate new records, verify and supplement existing records. Finally, we partner with companies on strategic initiatives to source data specific to their business.
We’re currently collecting data in major cities across Latin America, in some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
For a new company, assembling the right team and going to market with an MVP or alpha product is incredibly challenging. Working at an early stage startup is exciting, fast-paced, and really difficult. It isn’t ideal for everyone, so it’s crucial to hire a diverse group of people who are productive with minimal structure and can handle uncertainty very well.
While we were building a team, we were selling dataPlor to companies, ranging from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500. Although people understood the concept and resonated with our mission, it was sometimes tough closing those first deals with a product barely out of alpha.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” People say it often because it’s true. When you are charging full steam ahead and juggling multiple tasks, it’s essential to pause for a moment and think about the big picture. Don’t worry about the inevitable. Products will have glitches and clients will be frustrated. At the end of the day, keep pressing forward. When you take two steps forward and one step back, remember you are still ahead.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
After having read The Mystery of Capital, I’ve been fascinated by many of the ideas presented by its author Hernando De Soto Polar regarding capital and creation of economic prosperity. I’m not aligned with all of his ideas, but his approach on the effective distribution of wealth surrounding property rights has inspired me. Leaders have praised his economic ideas, including former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I’m thankful to have incredible mentors, Matt Graves (former CDO of Infogroup) and Andrew Finn (Founder of Arborbridge and WaitButWhy). They help keep me focused, motivated, and engaged in my work. You face numerous challenges starting a company, and it tests you emotionally, mentally, and physically. Your life revolves around the company, and you need guidance from people who are on the outside, looking in, during the journey. It’s important to surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
My greatest success is that I have provided well-paying jobs in the US (past company) and currently in LATAM (dataPlor) to hard-working people. Providing opportunities to people in LATAM is rewarding – both professionally and personally.
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