Unacast casts its eyes
Norwegians Kjartan Slette and Thomas Walle founded Unacast in 2014 in Oslo to provide companies access to knowledge about the physical world. The company moved to New York in 2016, which has proved to be crucial for its development.
The founders first met while studying at the University in Copenhagen. Before that, they were part of the founding team at the music streaming service Tidal, which they sold in 2014.
Unacast contextualizes information in various dimensions to obtain knowledge about population movement patterns. Among the things they look at are: where people work; where they shop; where they travel; where they commute; even where they drink coffee. Their aim is to provide companies like retailers, real estate developers, data providers and app developers, as well as researchers, with data in order to understand which locations have the most traffic.
They can provide information to understand how many customers go back to a store after seeing an advertising campaign for a particular brand, or information to help hedge funds understand foot traffic before generating earning reports to predict revenue and stock movement.
Additionally, they provide data to research companies for analyses of population movement patterns to aid city planning.
Unacast calls their product “Strategic Human Mobility Insights.” Their website states: “At Unacast, we define Human Mobility as the understanding of how people interact with places over time. Understanding human interaction and movement patterns empowers companies to build better products and make smarter decisions real time.”
In the early stages, of course, Unacast needed investors. The first attempt to seek an investor during a meeting at a coffee house in New York, however, resulted in a “No.” Yet, as is typical, along with their rejection, the venture fund added, “Keep us posted.”
Over the next three years, they did. The founders built up a trusted relationship with the venture fund’s team, with frequent meetings, monthly investor newsletters, and information on how multiplayer companies in various industries need data on human mobility. In this way, the venture capitalists were kept well informed about the startup’s challenges and opportunities.
As of late, the venture fund White Star Capital was the lead investor in the startup’s fundraising. Prior to that, two other firms, Open Ocean Capital and Investinor, had invested in the startup to establish financing. Now, four firms are invested, with Stockholm-based telecommunications giant Telia rounding out the funding. According to the founders, the synergy between the startup and Telia seems perfect.
In this round, Unacast raised $17.5 million to expand its location data products across new industries and into the European market.
Open Ocean Capital, based in Finland, works with software entrepreneurs. They like startups with large user bases that disrupt existing markets.
Investinor is an evergreen investment company founded by the Norwegian government. They invest in promising unlisted companies aiming for international growth and expansion on the same terms and www.unacast.comconditions as private investors and have a clear exit strategy. They are one of the major venture investment companies in Norway.
White Star Capital is an early-stage venture capital fund that invests in exceptional entrepreneurs building ambitious, data-driven businesses. Their international presence enables them to help the portfolio companies to scale internationally.
Telia represents the new generation in telecommunications. They serve millions of customers every day in one of the world’s most connected regions.
Unacast want companies to make smarter decisions and build better products by providing the most accurate understanding of human activity in the physical world. The future looks bright!
For more information about Unacast, visit: www.unacast.com.
Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.
This article originally appeared in the November 15, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.