3 Big Data Startups: Locu, Essess, Coursera


What does it do? Founded in 2012, Locu’s mission is to structure the world’s information, and it is currently focused on unstructured local data. Locu combines document analysis,  crowdsourcing,  and machine learning to provide structured and semantically annotated data sets made available through a set of APIs. Locu’s first product  helps restaurants better manage their online presence. 

Management team Rene Reinsberg, Founder & CEO; Marek Olszewski, Founder & CTO; Stelios Sidiroglou-Douskos, Founder & Chief Scientist; Marc Piette, Founder & COO

Investors  Factual founder Gil Elbaz, Google’s Bruno Bowden, Cloudera’s Jeff Hammerbacher, Hubspot’s Dharmesh Shah, Twitter’s Michael Abbott, Facebook’s Andrew McCollum, MIT’s Ed Roberts, Jean Hammond, Matt Ocko; Mitch Roberts; Quotidian Ventures; General Catalyst Partners; Chris Sacca’s Lowercase Capital; Lightbank, SV Angel; Naval Ravikant; and Babak Nivi.

Big data quote Rene Reinsberg“Local for us was an obvious [choice to focus on first] because of the rise of smartphones. People want to have a lot more actionable data at their fingertips and in the apps that they’re using.”


What does it do? Founded in 2011, Essess is a SaaS-based solutions provider addressing commercial and residential energy efficiency. It collects and analyzes building energy efficiency performance information on all individual buildings across large geographies, synthesizes the analysis into easy to understand metrics and scores, and automatically generates reports, providing building owners with tangible and actionable ways to reduce their energy bill.

Management team  Storm Duncan, CEO; Long Phan, President & VP/Engineering; Dr. Jonathan Jesneck, Chief Scientist

Investors  Vocap Ventures is the largest institutional investor in this round of funding, with additional investment from DFJ Athena, Minder Cheng, Richard Tsai and the company’s CEO, Storm Duncan.

Big data quote “Essess CEO Storm Duncan sees ‘big data’ as the great enabler to encourage energy efficiency for businesses and homeowners. ‘We can capture and zero-in on energy use for buildings down to individual windows and help building owners increase efficiency and reduce costs,’ says Duncan.”


What does it do?  Founded in 2011, Coursera offers high quality courses from the top universities for free to everyone. In addition, it provides an education platform at scale, based on machine learning and crowdsourcing to enable mass peer grading and efficient class forums.

Management team Daphne Koller, Co-Founder and Professor of Computer Science,  Stanford; Andrew Ng, Co-Founder and Associate Professor of Computer Science, Stanford.

Investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; New Enterprise Associates.

Big data quote Daphne Koller: “We see a future where world-renowned universities serve millions instead of thousands”; Andrew Ng: “Our mission is to teach the world and make higher education available for everyone.”