As consumers and regulators become more skeptical of how companies collect user data, one startup has raised another round to build out ways to help brands become more relevant with how they use location information.
Radar—which uses geofencing to help companies determine where customers are—has raised a $55 million Series C round led by Insight Partners, bringing the Brooklyn-based firm’s valuation to $365 million. Existing investors such as Accel, Two Sigma and Heavybit also participated in the round, which was announced today.
Since its founding in 2016 by several early former Foursquare employees, Radar has raised more than $80 million, according to Crunchbase. While apps earlier in the mobile era would share app-based location data to third companies, Radar claims to not share data beyond whatever brand they’re giving permission to. The funding comes almost exactly two years since Radar raised its Series B from Accel right before the Covid-19 crisis began.
While location data initially came to a halt during lockdown, Radar has recently seen a boom when it comes to focusing on new uses of location data such as contactless delivery, check-ins, in-store ordering, payments and pickups. In 2021, Radar’s employee total doubled, and the company plans to double in size again over the next year as it hires more engineers to build out new products, software development kits and dashboards.
“The stakes have gotten higher privacy-wise, it’s gotten harder to request permissions now than it was 10 years ago,” said Radar Cofounder and CEO Nick Patrick. “What that means it if you want to build app experiences with location, you need to be really thought about about how you’re getting opt-in and consent from users and not just collecting data for the sake of data but building a really valuable experience.”
MORE FOR YOU
Location data has become increasingly complex—and increasingly under scrutiny. The European Union in 2018 passed the General Data Protection Regulations and California in 2020 passed the California Privacy Rights Act; Both laws give people more control over how their location data and other data are collected, used and shared. Privacy advocates are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to create more protections for consumers, and proposed legislation recently introduced by lawmakers could broaden targeting of ads to a broader area. Meanwhile, several state attorneys general recently filed a lawsuit against Google for allegedly deceiving customers about how it uses—and profits from—location data.
Brands like Peet’s Coffee, American Eagle and T-Mobile are already using Radar’s software to connect with customers for curbside pickup, location-based marketing and other uses. Panera, which began working with Radar in May 2021, using geofencing to know customer has arrived, to send push notifications based on whether someone is in a cafe or at home and most recently to allow contactless dine-in experiences where people can order via Panera’s app.
While Panera already had a large digital business before the pandemic began, Panera Chief Digital Officer George Hanson said online ordering now accounts for more than half of sales and the app is now the company’s top ordering channel. Around 4.5 million people downloaded the app last year, Hanson said, adding that location has evolved from just for marketing to being more useful for customers.
“The pivot now is integrating location data into the guest experience,” he said. “That’s very, very different from how retailers were thinking how to leverage location data. You still have that, but now we can be much more intelligent…That’s especially helpful in restaurants because time and space matter, and food quality matters.”
Matt Gatto, managing director at Insight Partners, said Radar makes “the consumer experience better rather than being a true advertising use case.”
“There have historically been some advertising-centric use cases where we walk by a Wendy’s and McDonald’s sends me a 30% off text message or something like that,” Gatto said. “I think where we see Radar adding a lot of value to their customers is a variety of use cases across a variety of verticals like getting into logistics, payments providers when you’re in a store where you can pay with their wallet versus pulling your credit card out of your physical wallet.”