SocialCops, a technology data company, has raised $320,000 (Rs 1.92 crore) in seed funding from investors including Silicon Valley-headquartered startup accelerator-cum-early stage VC fund house 500 Startups; angel investor & Google India MD Rajan Anandan; and Manoj Menon, MD, Frost & Sullivan APAC. The funds are mainly being invested in scaling up the team.
“SocialCops is taking Big Data in a direction that a few companies have been able to do, which is providing data and insights that can help solve real world problems,” said Pankaj Jain, venture partner at 500 Startups.
“We are limited only by our imagination in terms of how technology can address the challenges facing humanity. I am excited with the pioneering work that SocialCops is doing,” added Menon.
The Delhi-based startup uses mobile phones—ranging from simple feature phones to high-end smartphones—to crowd source ground level data regarding public infrastructure and access to services from citizens. The company also empowers field workers (through partner non-profit organisations) to collect data via low-cost, internet-enabled smartphones, removing the reliance on traditional paper data collection and the middlemen.
SocialCops was started in late 2012 by Prukalpa Sankar and Varun Banka. The duo had launched the company in Singapore while pursuing their undergrads, before moving full time to India a year ago. With a mission of tracking data that provides insight and helps solve real world problems, SocialCops aims to track parameters such as teacher attendance in public schools, quality of public infrastructure and adherence & access to medical care on a continuous basis. The current team size is eight.
“Important national level decisions about issues like vaccinations and medication affecting millions of people are even today made based on sample surveys of as few as 100 people. And while Google Maps tells you the quickest route home, what about the safest one?” asks Prukalpa.
“The census in many developing countries occurs only once in 10 years and often the data is outdated before it can be used. We want to power even the census on a real-time basis by leveraging our non-profit partners who reach the remotest parts of the country,” added Banka.
The firm’s revenues mainly come from corporate and funding agencies through their marketing and CSR budgets. The startup also leverages non-profit networks and governments to increase distribution and the scale of data collection. As of now, its clientele includes companies like Unilever and Michelin. The company has also worked with local government departments in cities like Bangalore and Gurgaon.
According to the company, in the past eight months, it has already put mobiles to work on various intractable issues in India such as getting citizens to rate cleanliness on streets to creating public worker reward systems. SocialCops has also tracked patient misconceptions regarding cervical cancer and adherence to medication in pregnant women to aid resource allocation in healthcare.
Recently, 500 Startups announced that it is raising a new, and its third, flagship fund with a target corpus of as much as $100 million, more than twice the size of its second umbrella fund raised a year ago.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)