Beta Byte: Visible City



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Beta Byte is a series underwritten by Bust Out Solutions for that early stage tech found somewhere between idea and traction

What is the name of the company and/or product?

Visible City. We are online at and tweet @visible_city.

What problem does this solve?

Cities are constantly changing, and Visible City’s data tools reveal, on a dynamic basis, the ways people are using space in metropolitan areas around the world. For public and private clients, our custom tools and services transform geographic data into insights for making decisions about specific sites, blocks, districts or larger areas. We find, collect, analyze and interpret volumes of fresh data so cities, lenders, brokers, foundations and others make informed choices based on comprehensive, current information.


What is the full launch/release date planned?

Visible City has entered the marketplace and is seeking it’s first customers.

Who is on the team? 

Jon Commers, Visible City’s lead, is principal of Donjek, a consulting business supporting clients with urban redevelopment finance and strategy. He also serves on the Metropolitan Council and is an adjunct instructor of urban studies at the University of Minnesota.

Mike Bougie is Visible City’s Technology Director, and co-founder of DataBlitz, Inc. Mike has delivered major IT projects, managing cross functional teams in excess of 200 multinational project members. With companies ranging from Fortune 50 companies to startups, Mike enjoys pushing the limits of how clients can harness technology in meaningful, customized ways. LinkedIn

What is the specific technology or combination of technologies is used?

Visible City and Data-Blitz uses a stack of cutting edge open source tools including: Node.js, Kafka, Storm, No-sql data stores, geo-databases, ELK (Elastic Search, Logstash, Kibana). Data-Blitz has developed proprietary code to create business services to quickly develop and deploy business functions without the need for IT involvement.

What is the size/scope of your market and how will you scale?

More data has been created in the last two years than in all of previous human history, but only a small fraction is analyzed for decision making. Visible City is capturing and interpreting these data in customized ways for clients in multiple market segments. We can provide real time data on very specific geographies, to property investors and developers choosing locations and designing projects. Public agencies, locally, nationally and internationally, can use our tools to target scarce resources to their goals. And we support place-based parties like major employers, universities and foundations in understanding what’s happening in areas of interest.

What is your revenue model?

Visible City’s products are custom designed to produce insights for clients, so the revenue model is flexible to support that goal. Designing and implementing an open data portal for a public agency, it may best serve our client to base revenue on how many third party developers and members of the public are engaging data. Using numerous data layers to prioritize metro areas or specific sites, our client may prefer a consulting fee. If we are building an application to analyze and visualize data on employees’ tablets in the field, revenue will be based on usage.

What is your greatest strength?

Our team has remarkable depth in fields whose convergence is rare and valuable: Software architecture and development, urban geography, and the nuts and bolts of metropolitan real estate in core city and suburban settings. Add to that our proprietary technology that can process data as fast as any, and the result is a strong market opportunity.

What is your biggest weakness?

Everyone recognizes the phrase “Big Data.” And our concrete examples go a long way to communicate the many ways that customized use of real time data can inform client investments and programs. Given that part of our value is how we identify and crunch newly available data, a key priority right now is the communication of examples to prospective clients.

What is one resource you could use that would take this to the next level?

At the top of our list of immediate priorities is gaining exposure in the marketplace, so that the many firms and agencies who could start to engage and harness data witness the flexibility and power of the system we’ve created.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Minnesota has a strong tradition of innovating locally and taking products to the global marketplace. We intend for Visible City to be part of the next chapter of that tradition!


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