Anthony Nicalo, Donde

Anthony Nicalo is the co-founder of Dónde, a startup that created software to help connect shoppers with products they love while they’re on the move.

How did you start your company? 
The company as we originally started it launched in Vancouver. My co-founder, Fabien Allanic, and I were working at another startup called “Foodtree,” where we were making web and mobile applications to help people eat better. As a service, we built an app for Certified Humane to make it easy for people to find foods that were certified humane.

We weren’t getting enough traction with Foodtree, so Brandtree [a similar design, but useful for any type of product] was the pivot, and it was working—there was a demand for it.

How did you end up in Cincinnati with a company called Dónde?
We came to Cincinnati for The Brandery; I’d met Dave Knox through one of our advisors. We were applying to some other accelerators at the time, and he said, “Apply to the Brandery,” so we did. When we started researching The Brandery, Cincinnati and the region, we knew it would be a great place to figure out whether or not we were on to something from a brand or retail perspective.

As we got [involved with] The Brandery, we set up Dónde as a U.S. company, and acquired all of the brand-related assets. So, we started working on Dónde in April, got into The Brandery in May and came to Cincinnati in June.

So, how does the app work?
It’s not an app. It’s actually a B2B solution that helps marketers show their site visitors either where to buy or where the nearest store location might be. If you go to a brand website like SkinnyPop popcorn or Louisville Slugger and look for where to buy or where the nearest dealer is, we power that experience.

For retail centers, like LasikPlus, on mobile devices, our technology shows you where the nearest location is and allows you to look up directions and book an appointment.

Basically, our software dynamically displays the locations that are nearest to you. If you go to a page on your phone, we know your location as the potential shopper for that brand, and we show you locations that are nearest to you.

Depending on what information the brand has available, you can filter down to looking for a specific product. And we give the brand or retail chain analytics about which locations are popular, where people are going, which locations they’re getting directions to and which locations they’re calling (through a click-to-call feature).

How did you develop the software?
If you visit any of our customer sites right now, you’ll see the third version of our software. We built the first version as a one-off for Certified Humane. We built a second version that was an iframe, so it would plug into a website, but it wasn’t a separate application—on mobile it was actually a different application. Now, we have a version that is fully responsive; it’s all one application. How it functions and what content it displays varies based on screen size, and we built it using Javascript and AngularJS.

Why Javascript?
Fabien’s really passionate about Javascript. Part of what we can do is because of the way JS works, which is super important when we’re thinking about mobile—loading quickly, especially maps. Performance is very noticeable. Also, the way the analytics run, everything needs to be instrumented from an event perspective, so it’s all one single page of application. JS is handy for all of those technical requirements.

What’s next?
We came to Cincinnati to see whether there was an enterprise market for what we’re doing. We’ve discovered that there is one, so we began enterprise sales in mid-July. We released the current version of our product at the beginning of August, and we have enterprise customers live already. A lot of that has happened because we came to Cincinnati. For example, many people who are already or are soon to be customers are people we’ve met either directly in Cincinnati or through contacts here.

And will you stay in Cincinnati for the next three to five years?
We’re a startup and we have good traction, but three to five years is a long time. The way that we’re thinking about things is the same way we think about fundraising cycles. You get certain [support] and you think in 12-to-18-month cycles.

So, where will you be in two years?
Our plan right now is to stay in Cincinnati. I went to the mobile conference that Northern Kentucky University was hosting today because Apple is hiring software engineers directly from their informatics program. So far, this has been a great place to grow our business. We’re starting to get more and more customers that are based here. Fabien is already an experienced engineer himself; we’re hoping to train people and grow the talent base here, too.

Interview by Robin Donovan