Leader’s Voice: Aditi Sinha

We are extremely thrilled to present to you our conversation with Aditi Sinha, the Co-Founder of Locale.ai.

In this conversation, Aditi talks about her inspiration to build Locale.ai, how Locale.ai scaled to cater to the needs of geospatial analytics during this time of crisis, her advice for women who wants to build and grow startups and more.

SDD: You are the co-founder of Locale.ai, that delivers location analytics for companies. What was your first encounter with analytics and can you describe your journey so far?

While doing my undergrad from BITS Pilani in Economics & Finance, I was introduced to Econometrics. I started dabbling with analytics and took up stints at J-PAL, MIT and ISB where I worked on different kinds of data projects. In my final year, I joined as a research analyst intern at a data consultancy firm called SocialCops (now Atlan). I converted to a full-time role and got a chance to work on a multitude of projects such as the the child welfare dashboard with Rajasthan Government and CIFF on a child welfare dashboard, UNSDG dashboard with NITI Aayog and UN, as well as DISHA project with Ministry of Rural Development.

My role involved both scoping these problems out which meant talking to the clients, fiuguring out how their pain points, designing dashboards which meant figuring out what kind of charts should we have and how should the information flow and lastly, processing data and getting the dashboard up. It was then that my co-founder, Rishabh and I got the idea of building a geosaptial product for companies, which then became Locale.ai.

SDD: What inspired you to build Locale.ai?

I met Rishabh when I joined SocialCops as a research analyst in my final year of college. Rishabh had been working on large-scale geospatial projects with governments, FMCGs, startups, etc. For instance, he worked with the Ministry of Petroleum on Prime Minister Ujjwala Yojana to help them pinpoint the location of 10,000 LPG distribution centers. 

So, in essence, Locale started with a personal problem. At SocialCops, we had to build our own internal tools because there weren’t any suitable analytics tools for geolocation data. This is also when we realized that companies of all shapes and sizes are collecting a huge amount of location data and they themselves didn’t have right products. As a result, they had to build internal products which were extremely painful to use and not at all scalable or well-maintained.

The idea of Locale dawned on us when we found out that multiple companies are looking to build geospatial teams internally. Could we build a product to empower local teams to get the right insights and spend time working on their core problems? We spent a significant time validatiing this problem and speaking to companies all over the world.

SDD: During these exceptional times, the geo-spatial intelligence is of paramount importance. How is Locale.ai trying to solve the unforeseen challenges faced by businesses at the moment?

Since the outbreak of Covid, delivery and logistics companies have been reaching out to us to adopt location intelligence. We have been helping them manage demand better and become more operationally efficient.  Some very interesting use cases that we have seen companies adopt:

1. Analyzing the gaps in demand and supply with root cause analysis

2. Monitoring of KPIs in real-time & getting alerts of anomalies

3. Setting up alerts in case of deviations, halts & bottlenecks

4. Expansions based on latent demand & user churn

5. Understanding order patterns in last-mile delivery

6. Identifying which areas are SLAs not met and why

7. Debugging where and in which step is the most cost incurred

SDD: From an entrepreneurial journey and growth (particularly funding, talent acquisition etc.) perspective, what advice do you have for women who are interested in setting up tech startups?

Overall, I just have one advice because that’s the only thing that has worked for me: If you are passionate about a problem, just go ahead and solve it! The journey is immesely hard but is always transformative. Have a learning mindset and along the way, you will meet people who will help you.

For funding:

  • Be confident about the problem and know your target market well. The more you know about your customers, the better it is
  • Write warm, personalized cold emails to investors. People often respond to a thought out cold email
  • Pick investors who you love to brainstorm and solve challenges with

For hiring:

  • Talk about what problems you are solving and especally, the kind of challenges that smart people would love to solve
  • Invest time in sourcing and interviewing- There is no shortcut in hiring
  • In the early stages, hire to complement your skills

If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to me.

SDD: What suggestions do you have for startups on overcoming an unexpected crisis of this scale and turning it into an opportunity?

It’s hard for me to answer this question because this is a challenge we are going through ourselves. Thinking creatively has helped us immensely. What do I mean by creative? Figuring out solutions to problems with limited resources. I think this also sums up what entrepreneuship is all about.

Apart from all the common advice around conserving cash I would like to add is think deeply of what has changed in your industry and with your target customers. Try to adapt to those changes. Run experiments and see what’s working. Work on your brand, build deeper relationships with current customers, and run cost-effective marketing strategies.

SDD: Are there some of the new research papers or projects in AI that caught your interest recently, if there are can you share with us?

AI papers:

  • In NLP world, the most revolutionary and game changing was the BERT model. Apart from that, there are some use case based research too, like the one by Facebook – “Social Influence as Intrinstic Motivation for multi-agent deep reinforcement learning.”
  • For geospatial, there is one called SpaceGAN. It basically tries to learn autocorrelation structures from real geospatial point data using GAN and then use that learning to generate fake data.

AI Projects:

  • AI on the beach: They are a citizen science group promoting the use of AI on oceanic data sets to combat climate change & protect vulnerable marine species. They are applying AI to help researchers track sharks, dolphins, and reef conditions in the water to identify how boat traffic and temperature changes are affecting animal migration patterns.

SDD: What inspires you everyday?

From my journey, I have concluded is that inspiration requires effort. There will plenty of days which will be very hard and its best if that inspiration comes from within. After all, its the only thing that you have control over. For me, it comes from my personal goals and ambitions. I want to build a lot of things and solve a lot of problems. Why? Because, very few people are priviledged to get an opportunity to build from scratch.

What inspires me to build Locale is that I know this is a very big problem, just waiting to be solved. If we don’t solve it, someone else will. That’s why having conversations with customers and knowing you are making someone’s life easier always helps and I strongly recommend it!

Moreover, another thing that helps me is reading about the journeys of other entrepreneurs and people I admire in a lot of detail. Learning about how they solved their challenges is always exciting.

If you want to delve further, check Locale.ai, or you can get in touch with Aditi on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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