2015 Models of Excellence: Bucking the Disruption Trend


With the deadline for the Business Information & Media Summit fast approaching, here are four excellent reasons to look forward to your trip to Ft. Lauderdale (or to sign up if you haven’t already).

Trucker Path – Trucker Path is laudable from several perspectives. First, it developed a useful, much-needed and very successful app for truckers to use to find gas, food and even rest stops while on the road. It’s all neatly executed, utilizing GPS to pinpoint the nearest amenities, crowdsourced data and even user reviews. Even the advertising in the app is driven by proximity to the advertiser. This would be a nice business in itself, but Trucker Path has gone further. Leveraging the 300,000 users of its app, it is now launching a matching service to connect truckers to those who have freight that needs to be shipped. Marketplaces like this can be tough to launch, but Trucker Path took its time, and built not only a loyal following, but a trusted neutral brand, all key elements to succeeding with a new industry marketplace. All of this hard work is driving it towards a billion dollar valuation.

Parking Panda – Parking Panda was originally envisioned as sort of an Airbnb for parking spaces. If you lived near a stadium, for example, and wanted to rent your driveway, Parking Panda would connect you to those looking for parking.

The concept has evolved quite a bit since then. Parking Panda has now allied itself primary with parking garage operators, an industry badly in need of a technological assist. Now a consumer can specify a destination, and Parking Panda will identify available parking garages – all with guaranteed availability – provide rates and allow for online booking. Increasingly, Parking Panda users are even able to enter and leave the parking facility using only the Parking Panda app.

For garage operators, there’s also a payoff. They get greater operational productivity, a way to market themselves to better sell available inventory, the ability to vary prices in real time to respond to demand, and powerful customer analytics tools. High profile partners the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Washington Nationals.

PeopleTicker – PeopleTicker is a classic, ground-up data play. Numerous systems already exist to help companies compare and benchmark full-time jobs to help them select the correct salary level. But what about the burgeoning contingent or “gig” economy? PeopleTicker saw a need to develop comparable benchmarking tools. It now draws on feeds of data supplied by major employers, augmented by web harvesting and other data sources, to build this unique dataset. Moreover, it’s made a significant investment to build more precision around job descriptions for greater comparability.

Quorum – Quorum is a data analytics company founded by two Harvard school buddies who went from mapping proteins to mapping relationships between members of Congress. Barely a year old, this startup is an online legislative strategy platform that provides legislative professionals access to the world’s most comprehensive database of legislative information, unique quantitative insights, and modern project management tools. With Quorum, users can easily search, save, comment on, and receive email alerts for all bills, votes, tweets, press releases, floor statements, caucuses, committees, and staff contact information from the U.S. Congress and all 50 state legislatures.

Quorum’s advanced quantitative analytics provide information on each legislator’s top issues, most frequent collaborators, ideology, voting history, and legislative effectiveness. By enabling users to easily log meetings, clearly highlight differences between bills, create legislative spreadsheets, and quickly email multiple legislators and congressional staff, Quorum’s productivity features save users valuable time.

Quorum’s comprehensive data, quantitative insights, and 21st-century productivity tools are changing the way people track legislation, build support, and take action – and it just might change the Beltway’s influence peddling industry for the better.

Bucking the Trend

As with all of our Models of Excellence, these are clearly all very different businesses. But all four are trying in different ways to enhance the efficiency of the markets they serve. In the case of Parking Panda and Trucker Path, their solution was to actually build online marketplaces. For PeopleTicker, it’s putting information infrastructure in place to make the market run more efficiently. With Quorum, the goal is to help organize and manage the process of creating and influencing legislation.

Perhaps more significantly, all four companies didn’t feel they had to disrupt their markets to make a place for themselves. Trucker Path’s new marketplace doesn’t try to cut out the freight brokers; indeed, it welcomes their participation. Parking Panda isn’t trying to find an alternative to parking garages; it’s helping that industry operate more conveniently and efficiently. And PeopleTicker didn’t try to become a recruiter or job site; it simply provides the critical data needed to make the existing market more efficient. What we see with Quorum is a sophisticated effort to organize a complex and unwieldy process for the benefit of those working in that industry. So while disruption is all the rage these days, there are still plenty of strong opportunities to bring what I call “innovation overlays” to markets.

You’ll have the unique opportunity to learn from the innovators behind these fascinating companies at BIMS 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale, See you there!