The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has decided to invest in SurveyAuto, a data collection startup founded by former PITB chairman Dr. Umar Saif. This is the first ever direct investment made by the renowned philanthropic foundation in a Pakistani startup.
SurveyAuto plans to use artificial intelligence to take the 75 billion dollar market research industry by storm. The company will use an app to crowdsource data collection by applying recent breakthroughs in the artificial intelligence and machine learning domains of computer science. The startup will depend on local users in a relevant area to report data using their smartphones. According to experts in the field, this will make it the Uber market research:
“What Uber has done to taxi services, they are aiming to do the same to traditional market research companies like Neilsen and Gallup,” said the expert.
Dr. Umar Saif was previously the chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB). While serving in this position, he founded the first technology incubator in the country, Plan 9. Since then, he has made the best use of his Cambridge and MIT education and taken on a number of roles, such as CEO of SurveyAuto, Advisor to the UN Development Program in Pakistan, and Chief Digital Officer of Jang Group. Looking at this string of achievements, it’s no surprise at all that his startup garnered the attention of Bill Gates himself.
Speaking about how the app will function, Dr Umar Saif said, “SurveyAuto uses a crowd sourcing model and relies on machine learning to decide who reports data, where it is collected, and when and how often it is reported. This reduces cost and minimizes human errors.” He also thanked Bill Gates for showing his interest in the company. However, this is just the most recent among organizations like the World Bank, UNESCO, Innovations in Poverty, and ITA.