Mind My Business is Leveraging Open Data to Support Small Local Business

October 18, 2014

4:25 pm

As if starting a business weren't already difficult in itself, managing and running a small business has many additional challenges. From having to navigate the various local and state laws, to ensuring that customers actually make it through the door, being a small business owner is one of the toughest jobs that exists – and, I mean, it's apropos of the American Dream, where a lot of hard work is necessary in order to reach the end goal. New York City-based startup, Vizalytics Technology, has created Mind My Business, an application that leverages data and technology to remove some of these burdens from small, local businesses.


Mind My Business will give you notifications on really anything that could affect your business operations. The app also provide tips and recommendations to help improve your bottom line. (Via Vizalytics)

Available in NYC and soon to be launched in Chicago and San Francisco, Mind My Business utilizes targeted geolocated data to give small, local business owners actionable information on things outside or around their business that may have some effect. Small business owners merely need to get on the app and see what local events or policies may affect their businesses. Whether it's upcoming changes in local zoning laws that could have a potential effect on a business's operations to nearby construction work that could affect a business's foot traffic for the day, Mind My Business will notify shopkeepers about such occurrences.

“Hurricane Sandy hit my hometown [of Staten Island]. As businesses tried to recover, I was humbled by the digital divide and lack of easy access to the right, specific information that businesses needed,” said cofounder and CEO Aileen Gemma Smith. “Folks work really hard at local businesses – they don't have the time or the energy to mine through government sites – much less [through]open data with changing information about upcoming construction – to see what matters for their business.”

According to Smith, she and her cofounder Chris Smith (her husband) didn't think it was fair that despite information being freely available to the public, it just wasn't accessible or easily consumable to small business owners. There's simply too much information to navigate through, and it's really difficult to pin down the exact information that pertains to any one specific business. For small business owners, the time spent in having to deal with independently sorting through all this data could have been but to better use (like actually focusing on attracting and serving customers).

The application has gone through more than two years of development to get it to where it is today. In NYC, they spent a lot of time sorting through and cleaning up all the available public data provided by the city (as well as data available on the state and federal levels). They also invested many hours actually going door-to-door, talking to local shopkeepers and asking them what kind of information they'd find helpful. And it's definitely paid off for the company. In recent months, the company has managed to land a spot in batch 10 of 500 Startups, as well as win the “Best Mobile App” award at NYC's annual BigApps competition.

“Our focus now is on larger cities. Further along, we will look to smaller cities,” said Smith. “Our vision is for Mind My Business to be an essential tool for shopkeepers everywhere, much the same as we all rely on GPS in our car and weather on our phones. There is no equivalent ‘heads up' for store owners, and we are going to change that.”

Currently Mind My Business is available to use for businesses in NYC, but soon the company will launch its platform in Chicago and San Francisco. According to Smith, these two cities already have a lot of really great, valuable, and readily available data, as well as government agencies that are supportive in helping them provide these resources to small businesses. The company is also currently working on building Spanish and Chinese language editions of Mind My Business.

Check out Mind My Business‘s website to learn more.


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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.