Data Science at SpotHero

We love Data Science at SpotHero! And we like to look at the hard problems facing Parking and our customers. Here is a couple that we think about:

  • How will drivers respond to a new dynamic pricing model?
  • Do price and distance alone explain why drivers choose to park at a given parking facility?
  • Can we improve our return on ad spend by changing how much we invest in different marketing campaigns?
  • What differences exist between are commuting users, event users, monthly users or airport users?
  • What are the differences between each city or a neighbourhood in how it moves and parks?
  • What insights do the Operators (those who own or manage a parking facility) need ? What helps them run their business?

These are some of the questions the Data Science squad works on at SpotHero. 

Data Science squad converges in Chicago to see and spend time with our friends at HQ

The Data Science squad is part of the Reporting, Insights and Prediction League (a department within Engineering), which also includes the Business Analytics, Data Engineering, and SportHero IQ (dynamic pricing) squads. This means that the Data Science squad gets to focus on…. data science! If there’s a request about “I need dashboard…” or “I need data…”, then the Business Analytics and Data Engineering squads help out. This allows us to position ourselves around the business and customer focused opportunities where our craft is needed.

Overall, we specialize in surfacing advanced insights, automating decision-making, predicting the future, and enabling experimentation. We believe that we are the tip of the spear to help drive innovation at SpotHero and in our industry. 

Because of our organizational fluidity, we each act as end-to-end owners and stewards of the problems we work on. In the early stages of a project, we facilitate discoveries, coauthor problem statements, and ideate on potential solutions to problems. We then apply our technical craft along with other technical, product, and business subject matter experts to evaluate different solutions. After iterating on possible solutions to find the one that performs the best, we work with the dedicated Product and Engineering squads and our talented Machine Learning Engineers to mature the solution into production. Hence, the data science career path at SpotHero centers on growing data scientists who want to create, build, and lead their own products. 

Amish enjoying a canoe ride during the squad retreat at the cottage

Our flagship product is a dynamic pricing algorithm (branded “SpotHero IQ”). This is an algorithm that adjusts the price of parking based on changes in parking supply and demand. SpotHero IQ is a unique opportunity for us to work in a production environment on a solution that informs millions of rate (part of the price of parking) recommendations each day. If you’d like to learn more about our work with SpotHero IQ, consider attending the Toronto Machine Learning Summit Annual Conference in November 2022 where Amish will be speaking about his work running experiments with SpotHero IQ. Beyond SpotHero IQ, we are also actively expanding our portfolio by helping to answer questions such as:

  • Can we extend our learnings of who our customers are and their needs to surface more personalized, contextually relevant search results? 
  • What are factors that impact price elasticity in a local region? 
  • What is the lifetime value of our customers? 
  • How can we optimize our search engine marketing? 
  • What is a “quality parking facility” and how might we identify more quality facilities to add to our platform?
Geoffrey representing the SpotHero IQ product at the National Parking Association conference in 2021 

In this sense, Data Scientists at SpotHero act a little like technical Product Managers because we actively seek out and explore new data science opportunities, create prototypes to gather user feedback, and refine these PoC’s until they’re mature products. If you’re the kind of Data Scientist who is looking to create and drive your own product lineup, then look below for our open roles at SpotHero for Data Scientists.

In addition to building data products, the Data Science squad values experimentation and wants to help expand the practice of experimentation across SpotHero. Experimentation allows us to celebrate “value delivered” rather than simply settle on “feature completed” and will ultimately help us drive and scale innovation. We are currently actively recruiting individuals with a passion for and experience in experimentation to help us lead this important initiative. Overall our needs are quite broad, but tasks involve facilitating internal education & workshops, reviewing and introducing technologies to help us scale experimentation, design, review, and analyze experiment plans, and build out an experimentation platform. Reach out if you’d like to understand and discuss our open positions more.

The Data Science squad invited Kristi Angel (top left) for a “Fireside Chat” to talk about all things experimentation for the Experimentation Guild in April 2022

Our Members

Megha Lakshmi Narayanan (LinkedIn)
Sr. PM Data Science and Data Engineering

Megha works with multiple stakeholders across SpotHero to identify how Data Science can be part of the solution for business opportunities.She helps facilitate collaboration between squads to take these from high level requirements to final product delivery. Megha’s journey to Data Science product management at SpotHero came by way of past stints as a Data Scientist and a Data Engineer in AdTech and FinTech spaces. This background enables her to translate between product requirements and data science approaches, and keep everyone on the same page while working on complex problems. Outside of work, Megha can be found watching a lot of TV shows (ask her about K-dramas), and doomscrolling on Twitter.

Amish Popli (LinkedIn), Data Scientist II

Amish moved to Canada in 2018 to pursue his Masters in Business analytics. He has worked as part of the SpotHero IQ squad as well as some Marketing use cases. In his previous role, Amish was a data scientist for the AI Innovation lab at an investment bank. Amish is very passionate about everything related to data and believes that the next tech boom would be fueled by big data. Outside of work, he enjoys swimming and playing badminton. He also spends his free time watching sports, particularly cricket and Formula 1.

James Salvatore (LinkedIn)
Sr. Machine Learning Engineer I

James was born in New Jersey but moved to Chicago to do undergrad in mathematics, then moved to New Orleans to do graduate work.  After a whole ton of academia, he decided to transition into the industry and did QA, Data Analysis, Data Engineering, and Data Science before coming over to SpotHero to do Data Engineering and Machine Learning Engineering, working alongside the Data Science team. James took piano lessons for a year so that he could beat an old-school Nintendo piano-controlled game. Unfortunately, he no longer remembers how to play piano.

James Lamb (GitHub | LinkedIn)
Staff Machine Learning Engineer

James is a machine learning engineer at SpotHero, and has worked in the past as a backend engineer, data scientist, economic analyst, teaching assistant, marketing intern, custodian, and little league umpire. He is an active open source contributor, and has been a contributor, maintainer, and conference/meetup speaker for the last 6 years.

Geoffrey Hunter (LinkedIn)
Lead Data Scientist

Geoffrey is responsible for shaping the overall direction and delivery of the Data Science squad. His focus time involves seeding and framing Data Science problem statements and supporting the squad with their work. Outside of this, he acts to ensure that everyone on the squad has rewarding careers and he acts as internal ambassador for the team. After receiving his PhD in 2013, Geoffrey’s career has focused on helping organizations identify Data Science opportunities and leading nimble, high impact teams to scale Data Science. Outside of SpotHero, Geoffrey loves planning and going on ambitious backcountry canoe/kayak adventures, learning more acoustic fingerstyle songs on his guitar, and enjoys completing the square.

Lucas, professional data wrangler

Lucas, Geoffrey’s dog, is an honorary member of the squad. He regularly appears on top of furniture during Zoom meetings and proudly shows off his collection of squeak toys during sprint demos.

Open Roles

We have two open opportunities currently: