We talked to David Potere, CEO of TellusLabs, for our February 2017 client spotlight…
Tell us about your company. What problem are you trying to solve?
Satellite observation of the Earth holds the answers to questions of increasing urgency in agriculture, natural resources, and the environment. The challenge, however, is that key data assets are stranded and far from analytics-ready. At TellusLabs we translate weather and satellite data into insights for customers in finance, insurance, and agribusiness. The result is market intelligence that arrives earlier, and is more accurate and granular than ever before.
How did your company get started?
Mark Friedl, my co-founder and a Boston University professor, has been pushing the edge of what’s possible at the intersection of satellite imagery and machine learning for the better part of 20 years. He and I met as I started my graduate studies back in 2003. From the outset, we shared a belief that we’re seeing only the barest glimmer of what’s possible from Earth-wide data and modeling.
We started TellusLabs last year, when we had some evidence that our approach to agricultural forecasting had the potential to beat market expectations fairly consistently. MassChallenge here in Boston was a pivotal experience for us—the forcing function of the accelerator process itself, the world-class mentors and staff, and the great cohort-mates helped us move much more quickly, and take bolder action, than would have been possible on our own.
With our recent seed round complete, TellusLabs is in rapid-growth mode. Throughout the course of 2017, we’re welcoming aboard our first wave of world-class hires in data science, engineering, and applied geography.
Why is your team well positioned to solve the problem you’re tackling?
TellusLabs is making a bet that collecting beautiful imagery and weather data from space is not enough. While good raw data is necessary, it is not sufficient. We believe that the truly decisive insights will come from firms that build truly decisive models and measures. These planetary-scale models are hard. They require a specialized set of technologies and a nimble, multidisciplinary team of data scientists, engineers, and applied geographers. That’s the sort of team we’re building.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve learned to go into every meeting and conversation as open-minded as possible. Part of the fun (and the challenge) of this role is the steady cadence of surprises we face.
What resources do you rely on to help your company grow?
In terms of team operations, Mark and I are always looking for ways to boost efficiency and keep our attention on customer and product topics. Shoobx has been a great asset in that regard, and the partnership with Goodwin, our counsel, has made the technology integration largely pain-free. It’s good to know we have systems behind us that can scale with us as we grow.
TellusLabs was acquired by www.indigoag.com