From 3D Printing Rockets to Reinventing Banking: 5 LA Companies Doing Awesome Things with Data

by Michael Hines
August 7, 2019

If you want to create clothing people love, build a rocket using only 3D printers, change the way people bank — the list could go on forever — you’re going to need data to do it.

Data collection, monitoring and analysis helps companies understand their customers, stay ahead of the latest trends and refine processes. Continue reading to learn more about the impact data makes on five local companies.

 

Aspiration Los Angeles tech jobs

Whoever said that doing good isn’t profitable has never heard of Aspiration, a financial company whose products are designed to make a positive impact on both its customers and the planet. Head of Data Science Marick Sinay recently completed a project that revealed the impact the company’s mission makes on its bottom line. Spoiler alert: It turns out doing good is a good business model.

 

Tell us about a recent project you've worked on where you used data to drive your strategy and approach. How did data contribute to that project's success?

Recently, our senior leadership team wanted to understand customer profitability at the unit level across different acquisition channels, and within that, which types of impressions were driving the most profitable segments. Profitability for high-volume channels of acquisition was well understood. But there was a working hypothesis that some smaller-volume channels of acquisition, which more closely aligned with Aspiration’s ethical and socially conscious mission, were actually more profitable, and that one path to scalability was centered around identifying other similar mission-aligned channels of acquisition. The data completely confirmed this hypothesis and is now being used to guide our marketing strategy.

Test result KPIs are closely monitored and reviewed, and ultimately guide the business for key tactical and strategic decisions.

 

More broadly, how does your team leverage data to measure and drive success? Are there any specific metrics you look at to inform business decisions or product development?

Absolutely! The entire alphabet soup of KPIs are constantly reported, reviewed and monitored: CAC, CPA, CTR, PPC, ROI, LTV. These metrics drive our day-to-day business and also provide deeper insights that guide strategy. Additionally, in relation to any new products or features, we always leverage either A/B or multi-armed bandit testing [testing multiple options simultaneously and diverting traffic to the most popular one during the test period] depending on the business context. Test result KPIs are closely monitored and reviewed, and ultimately guide the business for key tactical and strategic decisions.

 

Relativity Space Los Angeles tech jobs

Creating a rocket using parts made entirely from autonomous 3D printers is a massive technical undertaking, to say the least. That’s what the team at Relativity Space is working on. According to Robotics Software Engineer Debjit Ghosh, data plays a key role in ensuring printers and parts are made correctly and in refining the production process to hit the team’s goal of printing an entire rocket in just 60 days.

 

Tell us about a recent project you've worked on where you used data to drive your strategy and approach. How did data contribute to that project's success?

Relativity’s additive team designs and builds the world’s largest metal 3D printers. One of the key factors of success for the team is to achieve high-quality deposition using our 3D printers. The deposition process is monitored in real-time using data from multiple sensors that provide feedback to our autonomous 3D printers for closed-loop control. Some of the key variables that drive high quality deposition are acquired using computer vision and are used for making control decisions in real-time. Many other data channels are monitored for occurrences of defects during prints.

Our mission is to print the entire rocket in 60 days.

 

More broadly, how does your team leverage data to measure and drive success? Are there any specific metrics you look at to inform business decisions or product development?

At Relativity, we collect data continuously as we 3D print entire rockets. This data is extremely useful for the purposes of real-time monitoring of the health of our print, training machine learning models for intelligent deposition, and performing verification validation of our prints, amongst other things. Our mission is to print the entire rocket in 60 days, and we monitor the time and cost associated with every piece. This data lets us improve our factory processes and flow in real time due to the flexibility of a factory based on 3D printing.

 

Sense360 Los Angeles tech jobs

If you’ve ever wondered how a restaurant was able to capitalize so quickly on a new food craze, Sense360 has the answer. Using data gathered from over 100 million restaurant visits and hundreds of thousands of surveys — we’re talking per year — the company provides insights that help businesses understand what their customers love and why, as well as stay on top of trends. Data Scientist Elizabeth Phillips shared more about how the company gathers its data and the products they’re building using it.

 

Tell us about a recent project you've worked on where you used data to drive your strategy and approach. How did data contribute to that project's success?

We are building a next-generation insights and strategy platform, helping companies like Jack in the Box, Applebee’s and Sonic better understand and serve their customers. In order to do so, we need to get the opinions of hard-to-reach consumers. At Sense360, I use our location-based data about what brands and retailers people visit, in combination with response rates, panel bias and other features, to predict the likelihood of whether a consumer will participate in a survey study. Using these predictions, I can increase the efficiency of our survey studies, reach our target consumers more precisely and help our customers make faster and better decisions.

Our dashboards are like a real-time command and control center that help our customers quickly identify, act and respond to trends via our data.

 

More broadly, how does your team leverage data to measure and drive success? Are there any specific metrics you look at to inform business decisions or product development?

We’re a data-driven company from top to bottom. Our dashboards are like a real-time command and control center that help our customers quickly identify, act and respond to trends via our data. We monitor this data with an alarming system and measure the success of these dashboards by tracking their usage. We create metrics to flag which dashboards are most or least popular, which have changed in popularity and more. But in addition to the numbers, we also speak to our customers to understand why they value some products over others. The combination of data and qualitative feedback drives a large portion of our product development.

 

Edmunds Los Angeles tech jobs

If you’ve ever shopped for a new or used car, chances are you used Edmunds in your search. While helping consumers find the car of their dreams is a big part of the company’s business, so is connecting dealers with those in the market for a new ride. Executive Director of Analytics Nataliya Sayko said data science — combined with the human touch — is helping the company better understand dealer churn and refine its mitigation strategy. 

 

Tell us about a recent project you've worked on where you used data to drive your strategy and approach. How did data contribute to that project's success?

We use data science to monitor dealers that are at risk of churning. While our model performs well on some segments, it does not do a great job for others. We wanted to better understand dealer churn motivations and see if we were missing something. We began problem-solving across departments and collectively came up with the idea of personalized outreach to churned dealers. Our executive team was particularly engaged with facilitating a better understanding of our dealer partners’ needs. As a result, our most senior executives volunteered to perform the outreach themselves!

Using data, we segmented dealers into clusters and formulated hypothesis for each group. The first round of interviews was very inspiring and insightful. Dealers appreciated the outreach and were willing to share their honest feedback. Still a work-in-progress, this initiative is a great example of the data-driven customer-oriented and collaborative culture here at Edmunds. 

Data is at the center of everything we do.

 

More broadly, how does your team leverage data to measure and drive success? Are there any specific metrics you look at to inform business decisions or product development?

Data is at the center of everything we do. The analytics team supports multiple departments,  including product, sales, operations, marketing and traffic acquisition. There are multiple metrics we monitor to inform business decisions and product development. User behavior and respective KPIs often vary by segment. We typically start by looking at the data by marketing channel, platform type and landing page and then dive deeper as needed. We utilize A/B testing and most recently, multivariate testing for product development and optimization.

 

MeUndies Los Angeles tech jobs

When it comes to building a successful apparel company, you need to know who your customers are, especially when you’re in the business of creating clothing that’s designed to be comfortable and inspire confidence. To better understand its customers, and what they’d like to wear, MeUndies gathers and analyzes extensive amounts of qualitative and quantitative data, in addition to monitoring performance metrics. MeUndies’ Senior Director of Consumer Insights and Analytics, Kristen Johnson, explained more about the impact data makes across the company.

 

Tell us about a recent project you've worked on where you used data to drive your strategy and approach. How did data contribute to that project's success?

To identify whitespace and better understand who are our customers are (or aren’t), MeUndies recently completed a robust customer segmentation exercise. This project leveraged three key sources: primary quantitative survey data, digital ethnography research and customer purchasing behavior. The quantitative data allowed us to create deep profiles around consumers’ brand affinity and associations across MeUndies and the competitive landscape. We then used qualitative data to further bring the segments to life.

This consumer lens is now used to continuously drive brand, product and channel strategy. The segmentation has become such a core piece of the company vernacular that a common question you’ll hear around the office is, “What segment are you?”

While we have standard metrics we’ve monitored for years, we’re constantly investigating trends and often find new or alternative ways to measure success.

 

More broadly, how does your team leverage data to measure and drive success? Are there any specific metrics you look at to inform business decisions or product development?

At its core, MeUndies is a data-driven organization. We provide dozens of stakeholders with self-service access to performance metrics, and the leadership team meets weekly to discuss trends across the business. While we have standard metrics we’ve monitored for years, we’re constantly investigating trends and often find new or alternative ways to measure success.

Recently, we’ve established a formal process for new product development and testing that is a cross-functional task force across product, analytics and consumer insights. Consumer feedback, both quant and qual, is infused at every stage of the product development cycle, from initial concept testing all the way through ad and copy testing.

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