The following is a lightly edited transcript of an interview with Lyden Foust at Realcomm 2019. Watch the full interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPPAYxAF2rs
Mariel: Good morning, everyone! My name is Mariel Ebrahimi. I'm the cofounder and CEO of Disrupt CRE and I'm sitting here with Lyden Foust of Spatial. Hi Lyden, how are you?
Lyden: I'm doing really well, thanks for asking.
Mariel: Lyden, you won a couple of Digie Awards this week!
Lyden: Yeah, we're feeling really thankful.
Mariel: I'm really excited to hear about what you do. Can you tell me a little bit about Spatial?
Lyden: Yeah, absolutely. So we're Spatial.ai. We're based out of Cincinnati, OH and we just released our real estate dataset this January. We analyze behavioral patterns in social media and organize them into social segments so that property owners and tenants (retailers) can understand a community like a local and fit the right business to the right location.
Mariel: Unbelievable. So your clients are retailers and property owners. What does it mean for their business?
Lyden: Yeah, let me tell you a story. So right outside my house in Cincinnati there was a retail location; it was a revolving door, a dead spot - we've all seen these. It turned over four different retailers within five years until 2012, when a mom understood that her street was the epicenter for joggers in that area. She opened up a Fleet Feet Sports and they're celebrating seven years in business this year and have expanded to three locations. She knew something that these huge property owners and tenants didn't. She had an unfair advantage because she understood that area (and that area's interests) like a local.
What do property owners and tenants generally have? They have reports that are based on ten-year-old census data and demographics that don't describe people's interests. That's where we come in. We analyze behavioral patterns on social media and can see if that community is interested in running, or yoga, or any other interests that people talk about on social media. We can find out those interests and then find the retail correlations with those interests. Then, those companies can understand that community like a local and fit the right businesses there.
Mariel: It just makes sense! Especially with all the consumer data that [social media users] are giving to us. Can you show me a little bit of your platform?
Lyden: Yeah, I'd be happy to. Here's our taxonomy. You can see all kinds of things that people would talk about on social media. For example, a community might talk a lot about dogs, so we have a 'Dog Lovers' segment.
Let's look at 'Girl Squad.' This is essentially people talking about "girl's night out." Some of the topics of conversation include 'Musicals', '#Ladiesnight', 'Dinner With Friends', 'Live Music', etc. We also have a ton of demographic correlations - urbanicity, income levels, election results, etc. So what does that mean for retailers and property owners?
When you see a high amount of 'Girl Squad' activity in an area, the retail restaurants or tenants that do really well there are cocktail bars, Italian restaurants, sushi restaurants, wine bars, and Mexican restaurants. For retailers, we've been able to improve forecasts by 25% because we can understand a community like a local. Property owners use the data to find the hot places to invest, which tenants to put into those places, and to attract those tenants and close the deal.
Mariel: It's also interesting to have that information pre-development to understand what kind of building do I build for this demographic.
Lyden: There you go. Yeah, it has urban planning implications as well.
Mariel: Unbelievable. I feel the impact of this in such a deep way and I applaud you. It's so nice to meet you. I'm excited to watch you guys evolve out there in the market. Thanks for sharing.