Interview with Julien Le Bot, co-founder and president of Yakwala

A new way to manage Open Data, a new government project (Etalab), and new uses and practices centering on SoLoMo… A thriving ecosystem is springing up around local and hyperlocal information! The days of going online to find information about the business downstairs are past. Geolocation is a key ingredient in SoLoMo projects, and a major asset to this rising ecosystem: each project is not only its own publishing platform, but also a vector for transmitting information.

Yakwala, the brand-new platform for hyperlocal information and interaction, understands this very well, and is about to burst onto the scene! Chosen by Exalead during Etalab’s Dataconnexions start-up competition, Yakwala is in the spotlight this week. A casual interview with Julien Le Bot, co-founder and president of Yakwala:


• Please tell us a little about yourself and your team.

Yakwala is the product of a perfect storm: the hyperlocal market needs to be better defined, local information needs to be more visible, and the release of public data in France provides an opportunity for those who wish to offer new services to local stakeholders. We have a great team, and we’re about to release the beta version of Yakwala. Everybody’s contributed the skills and knowledge we need to create a tool that improves information sharing on what we call a “hyperlocal” scale.  Yakwala came to be when a journalist got together with some web experts.

• Tell us about your project.

The project is built around the hyperlocal concept: unlike classic local information, which is delivered to the user based on geography, with Yakwala, the user is the starting point. Whether users are at home or on the road, in the city or out in the country, Yakwala tries to deliver them relevant local information. The information provided is based on where users are at a given moment, when they perform their search, and their preferences.

• How do you plan to accomplish this?

Yakwala offers a tool that aggregates data that is currently scattered, and delivers hyperlocal information in map or timeline format (as on social networks). To achieve this, Yakwala is working on implementing information services for the general public while, at the same time, providing a platform that will drive clients to local businesses and services. So Yakwala is both a tool that provides a public service, and a tool to assist local players (businesses, government bodies, merchants, etc).

• Why Dataconnexions?

This competition came along at the perfect moment for Yakwala: creating the web version of Yakwala allowed us to work on the information ecosystem, the display format, and the user experience. As we speak, users can already publish content, read aggregated data, leave comments and share the information on social networks.
Now we have to optimize the performance of the platform, as well as develop more services and add more information so that our users will be motivated to adopt our tools.
In this regard, the release of public data is an incredible opportunity that will allow us to provide more substantial information, even in real time, if possible. Is there a medical clinic open when I need it? Is the public pool crowded right now? What kinds of scores did students in my area get on the high school exit exam?

• Why did you choose Exalead? What’s it like working with Exalead teams?

From the beginning, Exalead was involved in the community that grew up around Dataconnexions. That’s why we were able to communicate our needs and our approach to processing data and to putting hyperlocal information to good use. Very early on we could see that a number of the tools offered by Exalead were a good fit for the work we were doing. So we decided to take advantage of this opportunity – because Exalead is a partner in the competition – to enhance what we were offering. And it’s going really well because, every step of the way, the Exalead teams have provided the support we need to get us past every technological milestone we’ve faced in implementing CloudView.

• So what’s next?

For Yakwala, the next step will of course be the beta testing so we can get more feedback from the community of users who are interested in our product. Then, of course, getting our solution to market and launching the service in pilot regions (in France or internationally), but also continued improvement of our services (to individuals and professionals).

Want to know more about this young startup? Watch the video interview with Julien le Bot created by FrenchWeb, and the demo video of the platform!

The Yakwala team: