Big Data

Data startup takes on fight against human trafficking

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People have many ways to make the world a better place, but analyzing data has not traditionally been one of them.

Data startup SumAll has established a foundation to use its resources, expertise, and equity for the greater good. The objective of SumAll.org is to collect, visualize, and present data to help nonprofit organizations tackle global issues. Instead of making a donation or spending $100,000 to build a school, SumAll allocates that money to hire engineers and data scientists.

“We wanted to make doing good a central part of our company,” said VP of analytics Korey Lee in an interview. “We thought we could reach farther and make dollars stretch more by leveraging our core skill set, which is understanding, analyzing, and providing insights with data. This way, we can help 100 charities better achieve their goals and raise more money.”

SumAll’s core product is a “connected data” platform that marketers can use to make informed business decisions. Following an oversubscribed funding round in November, every employee offered up 10 percent of their equity. The company sold $500,000 worth of shares to form SumAll.org. The foundation’s first initiative was to collect data about the human trafficking and the global slave trade.

This first report on human trafficking uncovered some pretty shocking information. Twenty-seven million individuals worldwide, including children, are held against their will, and the global median cost per slave has not changed much from the 19th century. Slavery is still a prevalent problem, and one that intimately affects Americans even if they are unaware of it.

“There is not a lot of information about this topic out there,” Lee said. “We thought it would be challenging, and we wanted to shed light on it. A lot of the data we found was locked up in PDF reports and long research papers that few people will read. We are making it available in a digestible fashion to bring transparency and efficiency to the non-profit sector.”

Part of the overall vision is to help nonprofits better understand their data, helping them achieve their goals. In his 2013 annual letter, Microsoft founder-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates drove home the importance of metrics in development- “I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition,” he wrote.

SumAll’s foundation is a part of this idea, that setting concrete goals and tracking progress, can enhance individual, organizational, and governmental abilities to enact positive change. Gates is the most well-known example of the successful-entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, but he is not the only one. Many people who strike it rich in the corporate world donate money to good causes, and many businesses support charitable programs. However, this startup is taking a unique approach by interweaving its day-to-day workflow with efforts at international development.

“Everything we do to build the company also builds our foundation,” said Lee. “As we prosper, we can help nonprofits prosper. We hope other companies will model themselves after this and it will change the way people think in the corporate world. People care about these issues, but there is a lack of resources allocated to it.”

True to its vision of turning data into actionable information, SumAll has partnered with organizations working to combat human trafficking. To learn more and get involved, visit FreeTheSlaves.net, PolarisProject.org, or WeAreThorn.

SumAll is based in New York, New York, and has raised $7.5 million from Batteyr Ventures, Wellington Partners, General Catalyst, and Matrix Partners.

Check out the infographic: sumall infographicRead the press release.


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