From Student Project to Startup: The Evolution of Crimer


Alexander “Lex” Adams took an unconventional path to business. What started as an engineering class project at LSU morphed into a data-driven crime prediction company: Crimer. Using primary data pulled from police departments, police scanners and social media, and supplemented with auxiliary data on property values, population, weather and more, Adams and his team compile heat maps to predict areas where crimes will occur.

“We use over a dozen variables to determine where crime will occur and whether those predictions match existing hotspots,” Adams says. “It’s an important distinction.”

Existing crime-prediction software can allow outliers to go unchecked and develop into hotspots. The company’s intention is to prepare police departments to prevent crimes from occurring in new places, rather than trying to handle their aftermath.

Here’s how Crimer is changing the emergency-response landscape and what the company has in store for the future.

Innovating Emergency Responses

Crimer’s prediction software has implications beyond preventing crime. Another target market is ambulance services. “Knowing where crimes are most likely to occur gives local ambulance services the chance to be in the area ahead of time,” Adams says. “It can significantly reduce response times.”

With the opioid crisis hitting south Louisiana, Crimer worked with the city of Baton Rouge to identify where opioid solicitation was occurring. “In most cases, where people solicit opioids matches where the use occurs,” Adams says. “Using data to pinpoint where that’s occurring gives emergency services a chance to be on the scene earlier to save more lives.”

Adams says he envisions his company aiding emergency services in overcoming one of their biggest financial drains: overtime. For many companies shifts are added based on need, and employees pick them up as overtime hours. “Crimer’s prediction services can help emergency service organizations make more informed staffing decisions,” Adams says.

Expanding to Other Markets

Crimer currently works with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office to predict and prevent crime. In the future, Adams hopes to expand to police departments across the nation. “Our target market is Tier 1 and Tier 2 departments,” Adams says. “Those are departments who have the ability to finance the program as well as existing data that can be integrated.”

Other gaps Crimer intends to fill in the future are those experienced by real estate developers, insurance companies, large retail hubs and delivery services. “Based on historical data, we can predict crime rates and social decay two years into the future,” Adams says. This can be helpful in predicting home values and insurance needs and in preventing petty theft.

Focusing on Market Needs

As an engineer and not a businessman, Adams says he faced a steep learning curve when he launched Crimer. “At first we spent a lot more time developing our product than the business,” he says, adding that he hopes other potential entrepreneurs aren’t deterred by a lack of business acumen. “If you aren’t a business person first, finding a great mentor makes all the difference.”

Mentors at LSU encouraged Adams and his team to learn about and focus on their business development, especially concerning their target market and economic model. “When we started work on Crimer, we didn’t know for sure there was a market for it,” Adams says.

Adams suggests that other startups conduct research to determine what the market wants before putting time into aspects that might not be wanted. “We spent a lot of time working on elements we thought would be useful but that the target market didn’t actually need,” he says. “Have fun building your product, but spend some time on business development too.”

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