Score One For “Mobile Big Data:” Location Analytics Startup Locately Acquired By Research Firm SMG

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Boston-based Locately, a location analytics firm which combines GPS signals with mobile surveys to understand how people shop and make decisions about where to dine, has been acquired by the customer research firm Service Management Group (SMG). Locately had previously raised just over a million via grants and angel funding, which included investment from Gabriel Weinberg (DuckDuckGo CEO), Joshua Schachter (Delicious founder), David Cancel (Compete founder), Mike Volpe (Hubspot CMO), Jeff Miller (Punchfork CEO), and Roy Rodenstein (Founder going.com, SocMetrics).

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but Locately co-founder Drew Volpe says that investors “got a good return.”

Locately, for those unfamiliar with the company, had built a proprietary data-mining engine which collected data from customers’ (opted-in) mobile phones in order to understand more about what sort of behaviors they were engaging in out in the real world. It could tell how a customer moved from one location to the next, what stores they passed along the way, how long they visited stores, what sort of lifestyle or shopper segment the user fell into, which competing stores a consumer would frequent, how a business compared to its rivals, and much more.

After its funding two years ago, Locately won Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I and II grants from the National Science Foundation, and received the START Phase I award from MassVentures, the VC arm of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The company also raised funding from Project 11 Ventures and the loose affiliation known as HackerAngels.

Locately’s clients included some of the biggest name brands in consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers, and over the course of the past year, it detected 1.5 million shopper visits and received over 600,000 responses to its location-triggered mobile surveys. New owner SMG meanwhile, has relationships with hundreds of brands and receives feedback from 70 million customer experiences per year.

Andy Fromm, CEO of SMG, said his company had tested the service with some of its clients prior to the deal and came away impressed. “Consumers respond well to short and relevant mobile surveys,” he said. Now Locately’s technology will be made available to all of SMG’s clients.

Locately Co-founder Drew Volpe told us he felt the acquisition is “good further evidence of how valuable mobile big data is and the continuing trend of using mobile phones as sensors to get feedback from consumers and measure the world.” He says their team is excited to have access to SMG’s experience in consumer insights as well as its relationships with over 200 retailers and restaurants.

SMG is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri and has offices in the U.K. Following the acquisition, the entire six-person Locately team will remain in their same office in Boston and will continue to work on the technology.