Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and even though over 500,000 ones are opened every year, more than half will never make it past their fifth year. Numerous studies have pointed to the primary reason for failure being related to the business' location. We know starting a new business is very difficult, and with the technology and data that we have access to today we wanted to make one of the most difficult problems faced by young entrepreneurs much easier by building the first open location intelligence tool.
What it does
PlaceAI is an end-to-end data analytics platform for entrepreneurs: providing AI-driven predictions on where to start for best financial performance and culture-market fit. PlaceAI considers area demographics, competitive landscape, and demand to optimize the positioning of the business. Our location intelligence results are solidified by connecting them with suitable rental properties based on their business type and financial capability.
How we built it
The location intelligence part of the application is built using unsupervised machine learning (k-means clustering). More data analysis and algorithms were applied to locate away from excessive competition and locate closer to higher historical user demand (measured using Facebook API store check-ins). Furthermore, we used TD Da Vince API to analyze user's financial capability to mortgage properties.
Challenges we ran into
We ran into many challenges during the data gathering and transforming phase of the project, considering data is the most important in any machine learning projects. Scraping some websites had failed due to reCAPTCHA. Backend and frontend communication was hard to manage due to models and too many endpoints. Finding the best way to visualize with the vast amount of data we had was a design and information hurdle, but we managed to work through these problems!
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are proud of making the analytics platform informational and visually appealing, and being able to empower young entrepreneurs to make data driven decisions.
What we learned
We learned about various facets of the small business entrepreneurship industry and the challenges they face in their journey to build a brand. We also gained a better understanding of many technical aspects, from machine learning to design.
What's next for PlaceAI
Perform market research and identify trends to understand the landscape better and incorporate more beneficial features into our product. We hope to make our platform public and accessible to the community!