Vincent-Charles Hodder wasn’t planning to become an entrepreneur when he began studying for his master’s degree in Urban Planning. That was until a school project turned into a business.
Hodder is the cofounder and CEO of a Local Logic. The Montreal-based startup uses data and urban planning theory to give users easy-to-understand information about the characteristics of every location in a city.
Users can search for any address in a city and see how it rates in over 15 different categories – things like proximity to different services, how convenient different forms of transportation are and its overall noise level.
“Whether you’re looking for a hotel, an Airbnb, an apartment, it becomes really difficult to consider location when you’re doing a search, especially if you’re depending on keyword searches, but we know that it’s just as important as price, or quality or number of bedrooms and bathrooms,” Hodder told MTLinTECH.
Local Logic got its start as a class assignment to find the best real estate listing for a family in Montreal.
Rather than go through thousands of real estate listings, Hodder and his team decided to use a data-driven approach, going in to Montreal’s open data to find the perfect location and then finding the closest listing.
“We realized that this a huge pain point for people,” Hodder said. While anyone could access the data, understanding it required specialized training and software.
That’s when Hodder realized there might be a business opportunity in making that data more accessible and understandable.
“What we’re doing is effectively transforming qualitative data into quantitative data,” said Hodder.
Local Logic has ranked every address in Canada’s 10 largest cities. It plans to add the 100 largest cities in the United States within a year.
That’s just the beginning.
“Our biggest challenge is going to be, how do we scale this business to every city in the world?” Hodder said.
While the startup is hiring new people to help with that process, it’s also refining the process of adding new cities.
“When we first started, it took us over six months,” said Hodder. “The last city we added in Canada took us two days.”
Part of the challenge is the fact that different cities measure things in different ways.
“What we try to do is we try to find national-level datasets,” he said. “When it becomes difficult for us is when we actually go in to individual city’s open data. The majority of these different cities don’t have standardized datasets, so it becomes much longer for us to clean that data and be able to input it into our algorithm.”
The company is also looking to incorporate other datasets, like satellite imagery. Hodder says that will become more important as it expands outside of North America.
The startup’s business plan is to pursue partnerships with e-commerce platforms and travel sites, selling them it’s rankings, so that those sites can give their users more information about location during searches.
Local Logic has already partnered with Yellow Pages and Esri, the company that develops and sells the geographic information software that Local Logic uses.
While Hodder may have changed his career plans, he says without his background it urban planning, building Local Logic just wound’t be possible.
“There’s other people that are trying to do what we do with a programming background and they’re really good from a technical point of view but don’t have the underlying understanding of a how a city works,” said Hodder. “I 100 per cent believe that without my background, without that understanding, we couldn’t come up with a product that was actually meaningful, that actually works.”