Auren Hoffman 0:01
Welcome to World of DaaS, a show for data enthusiasts. I'm your host, Auren Hoffman, CEO of SafeGraph. For more conversations, videos, and transcripts, visit safegraph.com/podcasts.
Hello, fellow data nerds. My guest today is Javier de la Torre. Javier is the founder and Chief Strategy Officer of CARTO, a location intelligence software company. Javier, welcome to World of DaaS.
Javier de la Torre 0:31
Thank you Auren. It's my pleasure to be here today.
Auren Hoffman 0:34
All right. Now not everyone is familiar with CARTO. So briefly tell us: what is CARTO?
Javier de la Torre 0:40
Sure. So, CARTO is an analytics platform focused on spatial data, the traditional so- called GIS type of platform. We enable organizations to respond to what we'd like to say is where things happen versus—Not only see where things happen, but why they happen somewhere. So we utilize BigQuery, Snowflake and Databricks as the storage, and then we put on like the tools so that you can effectively do a spatial analysis on your location data.
Auren Hoffman 1:10
Okay. And like the granddaddy in GIS would be like ESRI. They've been around for a long time. Of course, there's like Google Maps. How do you see yourself in that space and stuff?
Javier de la Torre 1:21
Sure, big time. I mean, like the GIS industry has been like 40 or 50 years by now, right? And ESRI’s been a big dominant player for a long, long time. So yeah. So we see each other quite a bit of time. In a way, I mean we see the GIS industry as a very traditional industry of like you will go to geography class. You will be trained in a set of GIS tools, and you will use that to your career. So that industry kind of like that exists. But if you think about it, it really is just analytical software, right. So there's another section of what I'd say like a spatial analyst or spatial data scientists, people who work with location data that will not come from that GIS world. That is kind of like the phase, what we call like the era that we're focusing on.
Auren Hoffman 2:09
So like a very advanced like Snowflake user, an Alteryx user, BigQuery, that type of person?
Javier de la Torre 2:15
Yeah, big time. So in fact, actually, there's obviously a huge like revolution and everything around analytics. There's more and more people now coming to analytics. We believe exactly the same needs to happen in GIS. More and more people need to be able to do spatial analytics. So if we can make spatial analytics available in that ecosystem, in that set of products, we like to call them like cloud native kind of products. We think there's a huge opportunity to essentially kind of like increase dramatically the size of organizations doing spatial analytics. So this is what we really believe in. So we feel like there is a space for an analytics platform that is connected to all these new cloud native products that will be appealing to not someone that went to studying geography, but someone that does analytics and is now getting into spatial data.
Auren Hoffman 3:10
And in analytics, like it is one of the key things for a spatial analytics company would be the map, right? That is kind of like… You want to be able to use that map or some sort of UI involving a map or pinching the map or putting a boundary on a map or something like that to do your analytics. Is that the central piece of it, like the UI?
Javier de la Torre 3:32
It all goes back to we like to say the difference between knowing where versus knowing why. If all you want to see is where your customers are, where your stores or where your operations are, you might as well use business intelligence tools such as Tableau, right. So you can just present it in a map. And for that, you're going to need… You have your data, what we call the data layer, your enterprise layer you're gonna see. You're likely going to overlay that on something like Google Maps, right, that provides you with a very rich cartography. Now we have a lot of options. You have like OpenStreetMap, BaseMap, you have your Mapbox. You have like many different kind of products out there to give you the reference. If all you want to see on the map just where things are happening, there's a number of tools with that. Now where we go farther when we say like going to why is, well what if you need to understand why those customers are in those places? Where else could they be those customers? Like, what are the conditions around those places that make them special to your business process?
Auren Hoffman 4:36
Or figure out the future. Where should I put my store or that type of thing?
Javier de la Torre 4:41
Exactly. In fact, site selection is one of our biggest use case. It makes sense, right? I mean, like one of the beauty of a spatial analytics is that it gives you context. It allows you to understand your data based on where things happen, and then extrapolate it and think about other places. So actually one of our number one you use cases is revenue prediction based on location. So if you have this number of stores in these locations and these are the demographics, the human mobility, for that we have to use SafeGraph’s data. Like you can model what are the characteristics that makes a store perform at a certain level in our location. Now you will look for similar places and you could predict that you will perform the same level. And that is the foundation of a lot of spatial analytics.
Auren Hoffman 5:29
Do you think of it as a SaaS company? Because you'll sell services, you have analytics, you've got data. Like, how do you think about it if you put yourself in a box or something?
Javier de la Torre 5:38
We are definitely a software as a service company. So our core really is, our key metric really is annual recurring revenue of our product or software, right. So that's actually kind of our number one priority. Now, in today's world of analytics, customers are going to need to know like to use your product in different ways. We find organizations that are like very, let's say, like spatial savvy. They have like very good spatial data scientists that know what they're doing. They're making their own spatial models. They're doing advanced things with our product, right, and they're also like collecting data from many sources. They're doing all on their own, right. But then on the other spectrum, you have organizations that need to liberate to spatial analytics for things like site selection, but they're not going to know… They don't have the capabilities to do this type of analytics themselves.
Auren Hoffman 6:29
They don’t have their own models or anything like that. They could use like an off the shelf model maybe that you've built or brought in.
Javier de la Torre 6:36
Or maybe they have data scientists, but they don't know how to do anything around the spatial data science too. So you see. So in those cases, we either kind of like help them and provide them with a solution for site selection. We have a number of solutions built in for site selection and other use cases. But then sometimes we need to actually help them to make the model themselves. So we do have a team. Around two years ago, we acquired one of our partners and started to make part of our professional services. And the reason is because our customers were asking us to help on using our product. So I think in any modern analytics platform, you're gonna see a level of professional services helping customers to kind of make the best use of your product. Those who actually do not have them, they're normally hiding it behind customer success or other forms of like areas. So we say no. I mean like these kind of projects are going to require professional services. And they represent a small margin of our revenue. And it's not a key metric, but it's a fundamental piece to help certain organizations. And successful, right. I mean like in a way, products are growing sometimes faster in innovation than even companies can accept. So without these services, they wouldn't be able to capitalize on the advantages on the spatial modeling that we're introducing these days. So services is becoming a fundamental part. And not only services, you were mentioning data. So one of the big—Well, the big differentiators of CARTO is also what we call data observatory. So we aggregate data from many sources. SafeGraph is one of them. But also MasterCard, Vodafone, many very large providers of location data. We prepare the data. We consolidate it. We put it under the same spatial support system, utilizing grids, like we clean it. We prepare them. We make it accessible directly from our software. And that's also a huge advantage for the adoption is many organizations, like we know, they're going to need the data to do the models or do the analysis that they need. If we facilitate all that and make like the product batteries included, it just makes it so much easier for them to start getting value. So for that we also need to kind of enable these selling data.
Auren Hoffman 9:04
One things I like about CARTO is you're kind of known for strong partnerships. Of course SafeGraph, where I work, is in CARTO, our partners. But you know, you work for things like Google and Snowflake. Like how do you think about partnerships as a strategy for growing businesses? And how do you think other companies should be thinking about that?
Javier de la Torre 9:21
No big time. For us, this is super—It's at the core of our company. The mission of CARTO is to is to enable more and more users to benefit from spatial analytics. I mean, obviously I'm a geek on everything around maps and geospatial. I think, you know, like spatial analytics will revolutionize the world. It is revolutionizing the world already. And it has a huge potential, almost every organization. But it's a pity that it's only in the hands of a few users. For us, so this democratization of GIS, this democratization of spatial analytics is key. If all we are is after democratization, then the more important it is to think about like going after the users where the users are. So we say, I mean this is a common trend on the industry. It’s like no man is an island. So therefore, no company is an island. I mean, like analytics don't start and end on your product. You're going to be part of a wider ecosystem. So for us, it only makes sense to think about like what are spatial analytics feats? We think the cloud infrastructure, the ETL, the LOCODE, car like applications. All those are pieces that your customers are going to need. And what we want them is to make use of the best spatial data and the spatial analytics on those products. Right? So therefore, you and I, for us partnerships is very strong. It also is very, very strong from a go to market perspective. You've seen we’ve announced CARTO space extension for BigQuery. CARTO’s space extension for Snowflake. The reason is that we see huge amounts of users on those platforms that could be leveraging more spatial, but they don't have the tools for that. And so when we go to market together with them, it means that now a spatial analytics is part of the ETL transformations in a lot of these organizations. So it's in our mandate, it’s now our mission and what we think we can bring to the market, but it's also a great go to market strategy.
Auren Hoffman 11:27
How do you train your staff? We struggle with this at SafeGraph. How do you train your staff to co-sell with partners?
Javier de la Torre 11:35
That's a great question. We’re still figuring out. I mean, it's not easy for us. We had to change a lot of our go to market when we started partnering with Google, with Snowflake, Databricks, and all the others. Yeah, so over the last year we've actually done huge work on that. So the first thing is that you have to be sure your incentives are right and all these things. And then it's a ton of training. It's a ton of training that we had to do around marketing, enabling materials. A lot of like what is the architectures? Like the architecture of your product within an ecosystem, and you know within a wider picture, right. Then we actually had to transform a lot of like our go to market efforts towards in a way selling to the solution engineer of the partner. So that's another very important part.
Auren Hoffman 12:28
Let's say you have a solution engineer at Google. In some ways, like they're an influencer to get to the end customer. Let's say you're trying to sign a huge CPG brand that uses GCP. Google's an influencer. So you have to like influence the influencer with your marketing? Are you like calling them? Are you sending them cookies? Like, how does one do that?
Javier de la Torre 12:49
We do all of that. We don’t send them cookies. We might think about it, but we definitely send them t-shorts. Like getting champions inside those organizations is a key part. You don’t get them really by sending them t-shirts. I mean, you just get them really by winning deals and training them and giving them support. So you know, to your question for like how do you train. A lot of the effort, you know, on the go to market sometimes now goes towards just supporting the layer, ensuring they have like…They're gonna make a proposal to a customer, ensure that geospatial is considered well. That is, you know, well portrayed. The use cases are well defined. The architectures for them, the benefits, all those sorts of things. In fact, actually, one of the things that we find—and this is I don't know what's your opinion Auren— but most people do not know geo. That's the reality. And in fact when we work with locode, they didn't know about geospatial. They just don't really know about the location data. And if you work with some of those partners and some of the solution engineers, they're not even aware that the products have a strong geospatial support, right. They don't even think that's driving a lot of like computing. So it's kind of like, it's a hidden secret in a way. And you find like some champions inside some of these organizations that have been educated on geo and GIS back in the days and they get it, but a lot of people don't get it. So most of the time it’s about like opening their eyes. Like, hey, these type of analytics is super relevant to your existing customers. It can help them with all these use cases that they didn't know. And your product with our product can do that. So be sure that when you talk to Atelco, mention that they can actually do churn reduction if they think about spatial data. That is so, in a way I love it because you get to talk a lot about what GIS and geospatial enables. I think that still is the case. It's a lot of your evangelizing about how spatial analytics can help.
Auren Hoffman 15:00
When you're going to market, have you thought about like a more truly self-serve model? I'm sure you've had these debates internally in the company. Like, how have you debated that, and how we ended up coming down on some of these things?
Javier de la Torre 15:12
Big time. I'm a big believer, actually in that kind of like a product growth strategy. So self-service. I mean, right now, CARTO, you can go to carto.com, and get an account, a free trial for 14 days and start using the product on your own. I don't think it's as easy as it could be to actually engage more of the users that we're looking for. But that's definitely something that we are trying to improve. So I think, as a company like ours, you have to think that way. You have to think that the self-service and the breadboard model is going to is going to happen because that's how you make like really solid and valuable platforms if they can work this way. Now between then and now, I mean, again, going back to not many people know what the space analytics can do.
Auren Hoffman 16:04
Right, right. So there's a lot of education.
Javier de la Torre 16:07
Yeah there's a lot of education. So you might go to a customer and they didn't even know about this. Or they are asking you questions that can be solved with spatial analytics, but they never thought about going after location intelligence or GIS platform. So you see, so in those cases, that's where it makes sense to also kind of have more of another kind of approach of let's give them solutions and more value based approach. Because you're going to need quite a bit of education and training towards those customers. So I think on the long term for sure. The rest of… You can always say that geospatial has always been a bit behind the rest of the analytics world in terms of like… The biggest growth in the analytics space happen in self-service. I mean, Tableau is an incredible example of that.
Auren Hoffman 16:57
Yeah, yeah. Tableau, Looker, all these great companies. Yeah.
Javier de la Torre 17:01
That was incredible growth of like, land and expand strategy of your—That is what we need in our industry.
Auren Hoffman 17:09
And how do you think about like…So you've got this 14 day trial. I'm sure internally you’ve debated like a freemium model, like maybe a stripped down version of CARTO or something like that that's free. Like how have you debated that internally? And how did you end up coming down on this 14 day trial versus some other go to market strategy?
Javier de la Torre 17:30
So, first of all, I mean, you know how this is, you know. Every year there's gonna be a new pricing discussion, and new pricing. And so this is always an evolving space. In our case, I mean CARTO started with a freemium model. So we
Auren Hoffman 17:45
Oh, I didn't know that. Okay.
Javier de la Torre 17:47
Yeah, we had a freemium model for a long time. Actually, we have more than 250,000 users on the freemium model.
Auren Hoffman 17:53
Oh, my gosh. Wow. Okay.
Javier de la Torre 17:55
Yeah. So it's quite large. And now, we actually are probably on the way of reintroducing that. This is kind of like getting going with the latest version of CARTO, and the previous version of CARTO is still available. We give the software for free to nonprofits, and the number of you know. Like, we have like a program towards that. Now, when it comes to kind of our commercial site, we find like the best way that we've been actually capturing value working with enterprises is actually working with them towards explaining them how location in terms of spatial analytics can help the business. So that's a bigger enterprise type of discussion, but users do actually want to try it for themselves too. But then the freemium go into that. So I think we haven't managed to kind of like I guess bridge the gap between. You get a number of users that really what they want to do is like awesome maps. They just want to have beautiful maps. There's value in that, and that's great. I love those maps. But in order to move to another like, well, now I'm actually doing spatial analytics. I'm getting extra value from my location data. There is quite a gap. I don't think we have managed to find the right approach towards that learning curve. So if you don't have that, then I think freemium is not necessarily helping you. But if you end up having two products, the one for the enterprise customer that is extracting natural value to spatial analytics and those who come just to make maps. And that I don't think is also a good approach. So on the long term, as I say, we think it that way. I think it makes sense. Like the only way to really scale fast on a place like this is going to be through, from my perspective, line in the sand and freemiums and even like your consumption models. But right now we're just iterating to ensure that customers understand the value that we provide.
Auren Hoffman 19:59
How do you think about selling data? Because like sometimes your customers might want extra data or bring in data. Or how do you think about that?
Javier de la Torre 20:07
It's a very, very high percentage of our customers acquire CARTO together with data. And it makes sense. Again, like you said, in GIS and spatial analytics it’s all about context. If you want to understand your business based on location, you're gonna need your data and those locations, and then you're gonna need to understand those locations. And how do you understand those locations? Through third party data. So it's as simple as that. So most spatial analytics will require to a minimum demographics, to a minimum. Then from there it kind of starts increasing depending on the use case. So for us, data has become a line in most of the proposals for customers. Those are actually written as…The way that we sell data is a scription. It’s a subscription to data products that renew yearly. We take care of maintaining, updating, etc. Again because of our cloud native strategy, our goal with data that we distribute is to make it as cloud native as possible. Which means that in the case of BigQuery, we actually just [inaudible 21:21] logically. In the case of Snowflake, it’s through the data marketplace. In the case of RedShift is through the RedShift data exchange on Amazon Web Services. On Databricks we are working on Delta servers. So there's a huge revolution towards data sharing on these cloud infrastructures. We are trying to make sure that we distribute the way we think is the right approach. But when it comes to from a business perspective, it is about helping the customer understand okay you're looking to solve this use case. This is the data that might actually be interesting for you. Then it becomes part of a proposal. And very often, you know, we land with a customer for one territory, and then three months later and say, “Okay, now why don’t do all these other regions.” So it's a continuous request to help them on that.
Auren Hoffman 22:13
If you were to go back in time, what’s some big strategic mistake you think you made? I love like when people can learn from our mistakes and stuff like that. What would you've done differently let's say in the last few years?
Javier de la Torre 22:25
Probably a ton of things. I mean I’d need an interpreter. I cannot say that we were like a straight line of process. Every mistake, obviously, is a teaching. You sort of definitely think about them as what you can learn from them. But going back to our conversation. From a strategic perspective, which I get to work a lot now, I think this concept of like, no man is an island, no business is an island. Think of your product, think of your business, think about your value proposition on a wider context. How are you part of a bigger picture? I think that was one of the things that took us a while to thinking about well. So our product is used to help you from doing ETL, visualization, transformations, building. It used to do everything. That was looking back, like a mistake not to try to kind of focus on what is your area of your value that you're giving to a customer. So from my point of view, that would be one of the things. I will reconsider point of view. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to kind of like pull a lot on our own. It really feels well when you're going with partners and you're kind of like really in. So you say that we are super partner friendly. I'm glad that you see us that way. I don't think we were always were. Although we might sometimes have thought we were, it takes an incredible amount of work to really be partner friendly. It takes a lot of effort to your teams. It takes a lot of efforts to think about your product, about how you do business. It’s not easy, and it took us a long time.
Auren Hoffman 24:14
You founded the company about nine years ago. And then a couple years ago, you decided to bring in a CEO. Give up the CEO spot, bring a new CEO and become Chief Strategy Officer. Like walk me through like the decisions because a lot of startup founders, especially seven years into a company, might be thinking about that type of thing, of layering up. Like walk me through that decision. How did you come down on it? How did you think about it? Like what was the process, etc.?
Javier de la Torre 24:45
Yeah, sure. Yeah, a lot of people ask me about that. You're right. I mean, this is the type of things that is a very, very tough process on companies like ours. In my particular case, it all started with some changes on our executive team. I had a co-founder, left the company was looking for a new COO. Couldn't find really anybody that I really liked to work with. And so I guess we kind of went through a process of like really kind of like [inaudible]. After six months, it was kind of like, well, I'm exhausted. And I don't think I'm focusing on the right things when it comes to a strategy and how we actually get this. Just like trying to survive this pricey operational role in a way. I don't enjoy it, and I think you're like it’s not going to work. So from my point of view, it was a clear decision. Like well, I go to Louise, which is our CEO, for a number of years. I was like, hey look. For the right person, someone that I can trust, I'm definitely like stepping down will not only make the company more successful, but my life honestly, also my personal life and my interest so much better. And looking back, it was really the right decision. So if you've come to a point where you're like already really burned or just really overworked and you don't think that you're making the best out of your… I think it's a good time to think like how you can restructure things. And luckily, I knew someone that I could trust and that I could work. So I went straight to the board and told them about this. I say like but I think I do know, you're like a great candidate. They were very supportive.
Auren Hoffman 26:45
Okay. So you sound like you ran a formal search. Like you already had a kind of person in mind before you decided to step down or something.
Javier de la Torre 26:52
Yeah. In my case, we were looking for a CEO. I wasn't really happy with the type of the candidates that we were getting. That's when I said like, look it might make sense that we then look for a CEO, and I do know someone that could actually take this role. That was kind of like the journey there and then we kind of discuss around it. So that was my particular scenario. Finding a CEO, it is really tough I guess. I was super lucky, again, that I knew someone that I could trust and that will allow me to focus on the things that I like and that I thought will have a bigger impact and so on. So therefore this transition worked really well. But it is very tough moments, a very tough decision, but I'm glad I did it.
Auren Hoffman 27:46
What are some non-obvious things you think we'll see in the world of geospatial in the next few years?
Javier de la Torre 27:52
I tend to think that there's probably more obvious things that still happen to haven't happened yet. I just think about like the huge impact that machine learning and AI has been having on the analytics world. You can run it on geo. It only has touched the surface. We've only seen like some of this type of analytics in remote sensing, Earth observation, like for feature detection as well. But if you look at most of the spatial models and spatial analysis that is done this day, it still is not liberating. It’s machine learning. You know like AI or you saw the model. So let's say that the most obvious is going to be that part. I think you're right. That's something that we see. Then the other things that I don't know if they're obvious, but for me, I mean, it’s going to be this joining of geospatial with the rest of analytics. So these platforms like this cloud data warehouses that are happening, like BigQuery, RedShift, Snowflake are tremendously changing the industry. But in the case of geo, it’s huge. We like to say there's like four things that make these so dramatic that people are not even realizing. If you think about like, they're so much more cost effective. So that's going to be…
Auren Hoffman 29:20
Like a Snowflake or something.
Javier de la Torre 29:23
Yeah, the computing and storage separation. Just think we've traditionally had to have gigabytes and gigabytes of data in memory just in order to be able to do spatial analytics. Now that has changed dramatically. The other is like they're like incredibly more scalable that is accessible. Accessibility of scalability. Like now right in SQL and you can paralyze analysis. That's pretty amazing in our space. The third thing that I think is very, very critical to data is these data clouds. This concept of like logical sharing. You know like data doesn't move. That there's no ETLs. That has a profound change in the way that we think about distributing data. It means data will always be fresh, never stalled. I like to say it's always a join away.
Auren Hoffman 30:18
And the more data sets you join, the more inching questions you can attack essentially.
Javier de la Torre 30:22
Much more connected in real time because now, you as a data provider like SafeGraph will make sure that you have like the best data always updated on this aspect. And your analysis is feeding live from that other. If you think about like the connections are going to happen, that's going to be amazing. And the last one, which for me it is huge, is the rise of SQL, and in our case a spatial SQL as the lingua franca for analytics. If you think about it, now SQL is almost on every step of the analytics process. From ETLs, mostly ETLs [inaudible] are SQL commands all the way to local environments. Now you can develop entire applications just by writing SQL. If you think all the pieces in the middle, if you think about machine learning in SQL, all the steps that will are in between these two sides all driven by a single language, I think that is going to bring a level of interoperability, a level of possibility to put pieces together faster than ever before. It's gonna be great. I’m actually very excited about like all this connectivity with all the business with one single lingua franca in SQL.
Auren Hoffman 31:46
We're seeing this massive increase in “data scientists”, right. It's gone up probably 10x in the last four years. But it's not that all these people all of a sudden have like all this data science training. That would be hard to 10x in four years. It's the fact that like a smart person with a tool like Snowflake now can be as dangerous as a data scientist was five years ago without it. Because now they can use all these tools, which is really exciting. So the, the average McKinsey analyst now can actually be a data scientist, right? So just kind of like a smart person, which is really, really exciting seeing this explosion.
Javier de la Torre 32:28
To take it even farther, I mean they can do this analysis, and now they can also build an application, and they can distribute it to someone to make use of that analysis. So it is not only themselves that they're enabling themselves. It’s that they're going to be enabling many others too. So it's only going to be exponential.
Auren Hoffman 32:47
Yeah, that's right. It's interesting because a lot of people, they might not consider themselves a software developer. That's like a kind of a different level. So the number of software developers hasn't gone up that much in the last in the last five years, but the number of data scientists has exploded because they can do that, which is really cool. Now I know you're on the board of OGC, which is the Open Geospatial Consortium. I'm a huge fan. I'm a supporter of the organization. How do you see these like non-governmental like standards bodies helping support geospatial innovation?
Javier de la Torre 33:23
Well, big time. I mean in our space of geospatial, OGC has had a huge impact over a number of years in the form of specifications that are used in a day to day basis. Yeah pretty much any software that has some geo on it, it has some OGC involved on it. The level of in interoperability and also like innovation that has facilitated by opening up the field, I think it's been very tremendous. In today's world…I mean like one example, one initiative that we're working on is facilitating interoperability between these cloud data warehouses. How do you export data from BigQuery and then import in Databricks, and still the geospatial data it's understood and maintained and can interoperate on these two systems, right? Well, that actually requires quite a bit of coordination. I think industry organizations like OGC, because OGC is paid by members who are private companies, benefit a lot from this. Because they can actually really work on these problems. Enable a level of interoperability to test drive more business for everybody. When you talk to any of those data warehouses, no one tells you like, “Oh, we want to differentiate ourselves by providing logging.” They say, “No, no. What we want is to enable the more data transfers between the systems as possible.” They don't find themselves, and that is something that they couldn't be doing without coordination in an organization like OGC. So that's one side. It has a huge impact on the business itself. Sometimes more than probably people realize. But without those standards, a lot of business wouldn't be possible. That's one side. The other thing that I think is very important, and for me touches me a lot based on my background, is the importance on aspect, things like climate change. There is certain kind of fields now where data interoperability is going to be crucial. If we're going to manage to advance to speed up our understanding of the impacts, the models that can help us on resilience, on reduction, optimization. All these beautiful things that we talked that geo can provide in terms of like prediction and optimization, they will get much more if they're done in an interoperable way. So in a world now that needs to act fast on these topics, interoperability is not only something that is nice to have, but it's a requirement for my product.
Auren Hoffman 36:03
It's always hard because the standards bodies don't move quickly. Right? It might take them, often takes him many, many years to agree to a standard. At that point, that standard may not be as valuable anymore. Or it's like 14,000 compromises to… So how do you think different organizations should think about that continuum? Like, should we just work on the standards bodies for like, the most important things that really should have a lot of thought? Then just like move really quickly on the other things? Or where do you feel like the continuum should be?
Javier de la Torre 36:36
It’s a very, very good question and it’s a very, very tough one to discuss. I would put like OGC has been traditionally… OGC hasn't been the slowest organization body. Think about like ISO or something like that. I mean, forget anything standardized in less than 15 years. But still I mean when the pace of innovation is as fast as it is right now in analytics, it is tough to standardize pretty much anything, right? I mean, every year there's a new big data format in a way. So yeah. So this is a very good time. Like OGC now has an approach to where working with the industry in the innovation and conduct in a cycle of like there's these community standards that then later if they evolve can go towards a bigger level of maturity. So the idea here is like how do we do standards that are huge and super complicated. Like, I mean there's been a few examples of standards that have been done even [inaudible] that has become your like monsters in themselves and took many years to develop. Now, I think the approach is more towards like how we can start guidelines simple, more like community. Ensure that the products are going to adopt it, that it provides value, and then you'll like go through the process of providing a standardization so that there's security on the usage of them. So instead of thinking about like creating standards from let's architect how the world should be, it’s like let's try to extract what we see is working on the industry, and then standardize it as we go forward. So that's one strategy that OGC is going. At the end of the day also, it's everybody's responsibility. If you don't get involved in the standardization, standardization will not happen. So OGC is this industry lead standardization body where everybody can participate, and from my point of view, soon participate if they want to let that happen. Now, that's tough sometimes to convince someone that is moving at 1,000 kilometers per hour. But on the long term, and if you've been on this industry for a long time enough you see that it's the only way.
Auren Hoffman 38:54
Now, okay, a couple of questions. Probably our listeners could tell you're from Spain. What are some things about the European geospatial market that maybe only a European would know?
Javier de la Torre 39:08
Well, probably. Yeah, I mean like Europe is pretty complex when it comes to geography. So think about how many same diversity that we have when it comes to languages, we have also on geo, right. So there is your like, one geographic organization per country on the public sector. Each country will use its own geographic coordinate systems. I mean there's obviously a very big tradition when it comes to geo overall. So I think it normally would have been like Europeans… Well, we tend to understand better, I think, diversity in the sense like we know that the world is complex. That your like data standards are going to have to accept many different variations. There's no one size fits all, essentially. That's something that that we find a lot. And the other thing that actually I think Europeans have a big advantage too is on data organization. If you think about how we can actually operate Europe with so many administrations, governments. It's pretty amazing like the sophistications to be able for data sharing. I think we are probably the champions when it comes to data sharing and harmonization of geospatial data in the world. Starting with some initiatives that can be maybe more or less successful. So initiatives such as INSPIRE was an initiative to try to standardize geospatial data across Europe. I mean, there was incredible effort that was put on those spaces around metadata and how to do automatic transformations between different systems. So that probably is one of the things that I can think of.
Auren Hoffman 41:01
In the US, we see a ton of French, German, British diaspora. They come to the US. They start companies. But we rarely see people from Spain come here. Like, why is that? Is just the weather too nice in Spain and so they just stay? Like what why don't we see more entrepreneurs from Spain come to the US?
Javier de la Torre 41:22
From that perspective itself, I think that is changing. I mean, like Spain like the centers for entrepreneurs in Europe were in Italy. Obviously, UK was a very strong focal point. France also did very well, Germany, obviously Israel. Israel has a standing tradition. But the concept of built in Europe, commercialized in the United States. It's existed for a number of years now, and it's becoming more and more common. Spain maybe just got a little bit the trend. But nowadays, there's actually quite a number of Spanish startups now operating in the United States. So it's becoming a much bigger trend.
Auren Hoffman 42:00
But even if you think of like Sweden, like there're way more tech companies in Sweden, I think, than in Spain. Like how do you think?
Javier de la Torre 42:08
Oh big time. One thing that you can say is that Spain is this kind of middle sized country. If you're like Sweden or you're like Israel or your Portugal. Portugal is a great example. Portugal is producing massive amounts of like entrepreneurs. They're doing really, really well when it comes to startups.
Auren Hoffman 42:28
Because they have to move to other markets. Their market’s too small.
Javier de la Torre 42:31
It’s too small. Spain fits like in this middle, right. So one of the things that you don't see maybe that often the most Spanish startups tend to go to South America.
Auren Hoffman 42:42
Okay, that makes sense. Yep.
Javier de le Torre 42:45
Or they enter United States through Miami. That's kind of like the way that they—Very often they land in the US in Miami, and then they operate from Miami to all South America. That's very, very common. So I guess it’s things like that happen. But if you look in New York, there's more and more kind of like Spanish entrepreneurs. I don't think there's that many in the West Coast. There's a bunch. There are, but it's becoming more and more… Like I see all those companies popping up more and more.
Auren Hoffman 43:14
Yeah, really interesting. On the West Coast, you will run into a French entrepreneur like at every cafe or something.
Javier de la Torre 43:20
You know, one of the things that they say that you're like… One of the good things about like Spanish entrepreneurs is that we are very persistent. If we believe in our vision or our idea, I mean we will do whatever it takes to make it happen at the end.
Auren Hoffman 43:34
It’s like a Don Quixote thing like, yeah.
Javier de la Torre 43:38
It’s our blazer course. I don't know. If we like it, we will go all the way.
Auren Hoffman 43:44
Okay, a couple personal questions. Like you recently had an opportunity to travel with the Spanish Prime Minister to the US. I think you flew on the Prime Minister's plane. Tell us about that experience.
Javier de la Torre 43:56
Oh, that was very funny. So yeah. So he was the president of Spain.
Auren Hoffman 44:02
The president, I'm sorry. Yeah.
Javier de la Torre 44:03
Yeah. So he invited a delegation of entrepreneurs from Spain to join him on a trip to the United States, mostly for financial. It was just they were meeting with like hedge funds and private equity firms. I mean, yeah. Essentially raise the spectrum of Spain as a company for investment. Right now, pain is in a very, very good position from an investment perspective and opportunities. Europe, as you know, there's first of all like a huge effort towards [inaudible] in terms of funding from the public sector that is coming to Spain. I think in the order like $180 billion Euros coming to Spain in different forms. So there is there's a massive amount of investment coming in Spain. Spain is a very attractive economy, and the President was trying to portray that on the media sector, on the financial sector. And one of the legs of the travel was to go to San Francisco, to the Bay Area. And that's where, you know, he invited a few of us to kind of join there. The first thing was like we were on the plane, and you know how you can you see the jets on the sides when you when you when you take off. You're like surrounded by jets. That was very cool. The second thing that you see for me was very impressive to see the government working, and like seeing them preparing their meetings. Really it’s just like a company, right? You see very, very motivated people trying their best at having their impact. The most impressive probably was getting in JFK landing. You wouldn’t believe that [inaudible]. Can you imagine landing in JFK in the plane and being in the Upper East in your hotel in less than 30 minutes?
Auren Hoffman 45:59
Wow. That's amazing. That's great. Yeah. I want to be a president of a country just for that, actually.
Javier de la Torre 46:06
I don't know. Like, did you realize how much is a nonstop work? My goodness. These people are made out of different material. I mean, like it's incredible the amount of work that they can push forward.
Auren Hoffman 46:21
Cool. All right, last question we ask all of our guests. What conventional wisdom or advice do you think is generally bad advice?
Javier de la Torre 46:28
It was the same when you were an entrepreneur. That you just have to work really, really hard for many, many. Of course you have to work really hard as well, but I think you're like leaving the space to where it’s kind of like relaxing and so on. I think probably the advice of working really, really hard was probably actually bad advice. I think you should work to up to a level, and then just sort of let the body and your mind recover.
Auren Hoffman 47:00
This is just a very European answer.
Javier de la Torre 47:05
It is. Realizing, right, a very French one. No but honestly, I mean I do believe in--
Auren Hoffman 47:13
What's the level? Is it different for each person? Or how do you know when that level is?
Javier de la Torre 47:17
I think it’s very personal, right? I mean there's times when you're just having so much fun that working is not really working. It's just having fun. So in that point, I mean why should you stop and so on? But then working is not always having fun. It's also a lot of, sometimes it’s putting over stuff that you just need to get done to move to the next things and to obtain. So. So I think there is a place, especially now we've seen COVID. We have to really take care of our health, our mental health. I think this is something that for a long time, we haven't necessarily been looking at eye to eye, and it's a very personal thing. But you know, when you start seeing signs of that you're like really stressed, that you're like really burnout. Those effects of stress over a long period of time can be really, really bad. I think that's my perspective. Again, I don't know what is the level, but you have to come up with it yourself. I would also recommend, you know, from time to time step back and say like, “Hey, what am I doing? Am I at the right level?” Ask your friends and ask your family. Do you think I am balanced? Sometimes you don’t see it. Sometimes you believe like you're just doing the right thing.
Auren Hoffman 48:37
What do you mean by balanced? I mean, no one's balanced. I've never met anyone in my entire life who's balanced, right?
Javier de la Torre 48:41
Your time. I might kind of like going up, I'm gonna hit the rocks. Do you see like if I continue like this for the next few years, do you think I'm gonna have like health troubles? Or I'm going to lose friends, or I'm going to regret it? Do you think what I'm doing is too much? Of course, I mean your mom is always going to be more protective. So you gotta be careful. I am Spanish. So, of course, your mom will always be protective, but you know what I mean? Right? I don't think it's—Balanced is not the right word, but it’s like do you see… I think being an entrepreneur can be a kind of a risky business because we tend to be very obsessive. We tend to not realize what we do. If you don't have like these control measures, you can see yourself not in a good position. And I think like, that's probably one of things where you would you hear often people say, “No, you just got to work as hard as you can.” Well, up to a certain level. Then the productivity just goes down.
Auren Hoffman 49:48
Yep. Yep, makes sense. Makes perfect sense. Oh, great. Well, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for joining us on World of DaaS. And tell us where we can find you on the interwebs. I follow you on Twitter. Where should people find you?
Javier de la Torre 50:00
Yeah so I'm jatorre on Twitter. Carto.com, [email protected] is my email. Now on these days I'm also on LinkedIn. So ping me there.
Auren Hoffman 50:47
Thanks for joining us.
Javier de la Torre 50:54
Thanks very much Auren.
Auren Hoffman 50:56
Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed the show, consider rating this podcast and leaving a review. For more World of DaaS. You can subscribe on Spotify or Apple podcasts or anywhere you get your podcasts. Also check out YouTube for videos. You can find me at Twitter at @auren, and we'd love to hear from you.
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