Product

Why Sidu Ponnappa Invested in Locale.ai

Sidu Ponnappa, SVP Engineering- Internal Products at Gojek, talks about his Investment in Location Analytics Startup Locale.ai

Aditi Sinha

November 14, 2022

3 min read

A photo of Sidu Ponnappa smiling and wearing a black t-shirt with the Gojek logo on it

I was introduced to Aditi and the Locale.ai team in April last year by my friend, Steve Sule. Steve has a knack for identifying genuinely passionate people, and the Locale.ai team is no exception.

My interest in the problem Locale.ai was trying to solve came from our own experience scaling Gojek. The sheer volume of location data generated by Gojek’s businesses, and the need for near real-time analysis required us to invest years of effort to build these capabilities and solutions in-house.

I strongly believed at the time, and recent events support this, that we were going to see an explosion in the number of D2C, O2O and e-commerce businesses that want to avoid the 20-40% overheads of selling through existing large marketplaces.

These companies were instead going to sell directly to the customer by building their own websites and apps... and were going to discover that when it comes to location analytics, building is hard - and that there are very few options to buy.

So, just to recap, I knew three things about the problem already:

  1. It was technically very challenging to solve for
  2. Companies across the world, even the bigger ones, were struggling to solve it in-house.
  3. There was very hardly any company selling an off-the-shelf solution for this.

A screenshot of the Locale platform showing a custom report with various filters and metrics.
Latest version of Locale.ai

Aditi and Rishabh came up with the idea for Locale.ai having faced the problem themselves. This existing experience with the industry gave them a great kickstart. After our first meeting, Aditi and I caught up over a few calls, and I ended up staying in touch over the next year or so as the product and team evolved.  

What was especially impressive was how quickly the team figured out the pivotal role of sales and marketing, the achilles heel of technical founders.

While the team is obviously strong technically and the market large, when I look back on it, I would say that the seriousness with which they attacked building out their sales capabilities was the tipping point for me, and convinced me to invest.

Working with Aditi and Rishabh has been a pleasure. It’s rare to find this combination of strong technical skills coupled with an open mind and a willingness to adapt rapidly. The market that Locale.ai is operating in is a complete blue ocean and I am confident that the team has what it takes to not just build a great product but also pioneer a whole new category.

An animated illustration of a rocket taking off.

If you’re looking for exciting opportunities in tech or GTM, they have roles open that you can find here. I highly recommend you get on this rocketship!

Sidu Ponnappa is Senior Vice President, Engineering- Internal Products at Gojek. You can follow him on Twitter: @ponnappa

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