Alumni Profile – Hannibal Baldwin, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of SiteZeus
(Oct 31, 2017) – Meet Hannibal Baldwin, a 2011 graduate of USFSP and co-founder and co-CEO of SiteZeus, a company that analyzes big data on demographics and geospatial technology to help businesses find future locations with the best revenue potential. At SiteZeus, Baldwin wears many hats including product owner, a job where he gets to say no to everyone on the team.
“The role comes with a lot of responsibility with respect to our product’s vision and purpose,” Baldwin said. “With four departments in the company all chomping at the bit for their latest feature request or enhancement to help secure another client, promote the product or clean up technical glitches, it is my responsibility to determine which and how we tackle these initiatives and in what order. I would compare the role to an uptight nightclub bouncer in LA or NYC, denying lots of people, letting a few in, and letting some important, possibly famous ones skip the line.”
Earlier this year, Baldwin was named to the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s “Up & Comers Under 30” 2017 class. We sat down with him to learn about his education and experience at USFSP that helped prepare him for his career.
When deciding on a college, what distinguished USFSP from your other options?
After coming from University of Colorado in Boulder, which was a great school, I visited USFSP and fell in love with how unique it was. The layout, location and vibe all together attracted me to the campus. After visiting, I could tell the classes were far smaller, which meant more one-to-one with the professors. This was a large perk that you don’t receive and experience at larger schools. Downtown St. Pete also meant there were a ton of fun places to eat, walk and enjoy between classes. Between the local coffee shop the Grind, the Tavern and the fitness center, I pretty much made USFSP a second home, as I lived off-campus during my time.
What major did you pursue and why?
I dove head first into finance from the beginning. I have always gravitated towards math and wanted to apply that talent to business in whatever aspect I could when I graduated. Being young and naive I always wanted to go work on Wall Street. I thought working for a hedge fund or investment bank would be a blast but when I think about those jobs now I get less excited. I didn’t realize this until I started my own business, but I discovered I would rather spend every waking minute creating something new rather than trading or working on whatever already exists.
What lessons did you learn from your college experience?
Simply put, college is a place where you learn how to learn. Colleges in my opinion are less about exactly what you learn but rather, more importantly, how you go about learning whatever it is that interests you. I believe great schools and professors understand this and attempt to teach in a way that encourages self-motivated learning. USFPS is a perfect example of this type of school.
Tell me about a day in the life at SiteZeus for you – Is there a thing as a typical day?
I think you nailed it. There is no typical day as Co-CEO. One day I might be the technical sales guy, jumping on the phone with a large national prospect to talk about data science and why it is relevant and critical to them. The next day it may be helping our support team structure educational and training materials around new features. I spend a lot of time actually designing our software UX/UI so Adobe Illustrator has become my best friend. The most important thing I do as a Co-CEO though is never stop searching for people more intelligent and talented than I am. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.
You were recently named by Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Up and Comers Under 30, what does this recognition mean to you?
Honestly, I was blown away and completely caught off-guard. It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying to have won and I hope that I can live up to the recognition and award.
Finally, where do you hope to go from here and envision your company 10 years from now?
I hope that we continue to see exponential growth at SiteZeus. Ultimately we become a powerhouse for machine learning and artificial intelligence technology, driving truly prescriptive analytics for a variety of industries and purposes in the next five to 10 years. Not only do I want Subway – our largest client and also the largest global restaurant brand – to use our technology, but I also dream of the Center for Disease Control using SiteZeus to predict and visualize the flu season, or Hillsborough County Property Appraisers using it to forecast tax values for homes and real estate. Maybe even one day, cities like Chicago could use SiteZeus to help predict and mitigate crime. When I am not trying to execute on the vision above, you will surely find me obsessively reading a quantum computing or neuroscience white paper. These areas of focus are the future and I want to be a part of it!