Local tech startup dataPreneur will unveil technology it believes will help change the way ordinary people use data on a daily basis, with a free event titled “How to Become a Datapreneur” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Faulkner West Conference Room of the Santa Barbara Central Library, 40 E. Anapamu St.
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“The term ‘data’ has this kind of tech-geek aura about it,” dataPreneur co-founder and CEO Blake Beltram said. “We’re out to change that. Data actually becomes ‘cool’ once you care about the data, once you can navigate it, and once you can get it quickly and easily on your phone.”
It’s more than just startup talk. So far, dataPreneur has helped create and deliver mobile data apps (it refers to them as datAPPs) for local commercial real estate, local high school and college sports, a local AYSO league, a local political campaign, college textbooks, and even a music session-tracking app for a nonprofit organization.
“Our focus up to now has been to start local, in house, with the data and people we know best, to show how datAPPs work and how easy, useful and even practical they can be — like helping a soccer mom find the right field at Girsh Park,” Beltram said.
“Now we are basically opening the technology up to local entrepreneurs to see what they can do with it. It’s like, ‘Hey, making a mobile app doesn’t have to cost tens of thousands and take three months, you can have one live next week.’ Soon we will introduce the platform to the rest of the world, but for now Santa Barbara gets first crack at it.”
While the “datAPP” interface is indeed simple to navigate, the underlying technology is what dataPreneur says is its secret weapon that not only makes datAPPs extremely powerful, but will give them a clear advantage when the inevitable competitors arrive on the scene. The groundbreaking technology, which can parse a million records in about a second, was developed over a five-year period by local software developer Simpler Systems, which co-founded dataPreneur with Beltram at the beginning of 2011.
Simpler’s success comes from employing its technology at the enterprise level, whereas dataPreneur is focused directly on the consumer app market. But Rick Schaffer, the wizard behind the technology who founded both companies, sees a common thread between the two.
“With both companies it comes down to simplicity, power and ease-of-use,” he says. “Technology, at its best, appears simple and almost effortless to the end user. What most people don’t understand is just how much effort goes into getting to that point.”
And that can be a double-edge sword when launching a startup like dataPreneur.
“Sometimes I feel like it’s 1992 and I’m showing people the Internet for the first time,” Beltram said. “I’ll show someone how to look up something with a few taps on an iPhone, something they otherwise would spend hours looking for, and they’ll say, ‘That’s really cool, but where can you really go with this?’ And I’ll say, ‘Where can’t you go with it?’ It’s like saying in ‘92, ‘Where can you really go with this World Wide Web thing?’ Everywhere!
“Data is still the great untapped well of the information age — it runs our lives, it’s everywhere, and yet we still mostly can’t get to it, navigate it or use it in practical ways in our daily lives. Well, dataPreneur has a platform to help change that. Now we just need the datapreneurs to get on board.”
— Zachary Cruz represents dataPreneur.