Look out for another possible Triangle winner at Demo Day …

Mira, which translates as “Look, look!” in Spanish, is carrying the hopes of the Triangle startup community to continue its dominance of Google Demo Day. The Silicon Valley showcase is Wednesday, and Jonathan Frangakis, its co-founder, CEO as well as a Marine officer, war-on-terror vet and Startup Factory graduate will be on the stage.

But what is Mira, and who is Frangakis?

Mira, which maintains an office at The American Underground and another in New York City, touts itself as “the crowd analytics platform that uses anonymously aggregated interests and demographic data from mobile devices to create tailored digital signage for offline retailers.”

In other words, look, look at all the data, retailers, let Mira analyze it, and cash in.

Mira is following in the footsteps of two other Durham firms – Windsor Circle and Mati Energy – which won the first two Google events. A third, Automated Insights, also won raves at the first event and later was sold.

(You can watch Demo Day live at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtYxQMR7WhA )

Adam Klein, who runs The Underground through which Mira was selected for the Google pitch event, expects Frangakis to really “bring it” in his demo pitch. Frangakis hopes he is up to the challenge.

“I’m pretty passionate about this thing we built so I just embrace that,” he explained.

“I record myself talking through it nuts to bolts and then go back and write out everything I said. It’s usually pretty long but for some reason when you put it on paper, it becomes so clear what aspects you need to focus on. So I edit on paper. Memorize. and then let the passion part turn that into a pitch.”

Mira will be looking to raise additional capital post-Demo day after landing some $1 million last year. Boosting the Mira pitch is the fact the startup is already producing revenue.

The backstory of Mira

In the first of a two-part story, WTW talks with Frangakis to get the backstory on Mira.

  • How do you describe the tech to potential customers and investors?

Briefly, Mira is the “Crowd Analytics” platform and we’re leveraging this in two ways. Our primary focus is to bring real-time targeting based on a nearby audience to Digital Out-of-Home Media (think: digital signage in malls or taxi TV). Additionally, we visualize the same data through a dashboard called MiraMetrics which helps brick and mortar retailers query and understand their shoppers’ demographics, interests and other attributes.

  • Where did the idea for Mira come from? How does that tie in to your background? Why the name – what’s it mean?

I was a media buyer when I was a Vertical Market director at Lutron. With a small ad budget I had to be really discerning about where we spent our marketing dollars. We got very few conversions on Display mostly because my target, real estate developers and property managers, weren’t big digital converters. I knew they took cabs all day but we were immediately priced out of Taxi TV and I realized I would pay significantly more on a per impression basis if I could only show our asset when the right passenger was in the cab.

[Brother and co-founder] Gabe and I talked about it. Bluetooth LE was starting to emerge and we decided that we could build it. So we did.

We originally wanted to call the platform “look” for some awful reason but settled on the Spanish translation. Mom was proud

  • What is the opportunity here?

Most immediately, we see Mira being part of this whole Out-of-Home revolution. There are a lot of drivers that are making OOH more attractive, fraud, viewablity, Ad Block, etc. So today, companies like Google and Rubicon are offering programmatic exchanges for the channel but real time audience measurement remains unaddressed.

If the idea is that we can make OOH as effective as display and mobile were once thought to be, audience is going to be a key ingredient. We’re a little bit ahead of the demand just yet so we’re generating demand by working with Agencies directly to drive integration across the OOH landscape.

Additionally, Crowd analytics is going to be a big thing. There is so much concern for privacy today and that is exactly what we built the concept of crowd analytics around. The thought is, you don’t have to know anything about an individual to target something to them.

We want to understand what the aggregate appeal is to a group of people and then “forget” the pieces of the puzzle that gave us the picture. This is how you turn a crowd into an audience and how you do it while respecting privacy.

  • Do you own intellectual property on this? Are your analytics proprietary?

We’re hoping to have a patent awarded (US 20140040031) by August. The IP is around how we can understand what would appeal most to a crowd of people around a physical point in the world.

How do you describe the tech to potential customers and investors?

Briefly, Mira is the “Crowd Analytics” platform and we’re leveraging this in two ways. Our primary focus is to bring real-time targeting based on a nearby audience to Digital Out-of-Home Media (think: digital signage in malls or taxi TV). Additionally, we visualize the same data through a dashboard called MiraMetrics which helps brick and mortar retailers query and understand their shoppers’ demographics, interests and other attributes.

  • Why have an office in NY?

At least for today, there is a pretty heavy Madison Avenue component to what we do. Proximity to agencies is a big deal still. So I’m in NC one week a month and Gabe is there closer to two weeks each month. Free place to stay when we’re in NC (His parents live in Chapel Hill.)

There’s more: Read what The Startup Factory has to say about Mira.