Donna Salvatore: A trek to the summit

Donna Salvatore, president of Megalytics, often wishes she were mountain climbing.

Having climbed to Base Camp of Mt. Everest and with aspirations to one day climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Salvatore knows that one misstep can be deadly. She knows the same types of challenges and outcomes exist professionally.

“I have done seven different start-ups and early stage ventures around the globe,” Salvatore explained. I have worked in every industry from oil and gas, to chemicals, to health care, to textiles, to software and information services to biotechnology to venture capital and financial services.”

Through these experiences she’s learned a similar lesson.

“Concentration, focus and preparation are essential ingredients to “peak performance” in established industries, including commercial real estate.”

Salvatore is the president and founding principal of Megalytics, which provides a subscription-based, real-time credit, due diligence and risk assessment platform designed to help owners, investors and lenders make leasing, property management and financial decisions about commercial properties they own or may acquire.

Last Spring the company graduated from the Elmspring incubator that is part of 1871. The firm recently secured Wintrust Bank as an investor.

Salvatore formed Megalytics because, as she says, “commercial real estate is an industry which has not benefited from the systemic capture and use of data to improve transparency, productivity, process, decision making and market efficiency.”

She cited a recent study by McKinsey that found real estate is still lacking the talent and data to benefit in the way that most other industries have.

As the firm’s president, Salvatore is responsible for uncovering new data sources and combining them in a meaningful way to provide clients with new and better insights – credit card data, parking data, cell phone data.

“For our platform and our clients, it’s all about making data work and providing clients with greater access to information that will help them make informed decisions, quickly and confidently,” Salvatore said.

Salvatore explained she is also responsible for, among other things:

  • Ongoing development of our data and analytics as a service platform, continuously adding new products and data sources,
  • Analyzing potential acquisitions that will further enhance our position in the market,
  • Business development, proving to clients that Megalytics can “help them solve their pain points”.

With her vast experience, Salvatore says she really has been “on the periphery of the commercial real estate industry,” working with firms that support the industry and its professionals. For example, she was an operational executive for a facilities management software company and owned a strategic metering and billing company that was involved in the energy management side of real estate.

She sees a place for her and Megalytics in the industry because, “I feel it is an industry ripe for disruption by increasing capital markets efficiency and making the real estate industry more data driven and transparent.”

As a service provider and “an outsider looking in” Salvatore says she really enjoys working in the commercial real estate industry.

“What I like most is help clients reduce risk with their real estate transactions by giving them the tools to make smarter decisions quicker.”

There are two best pieces of advice that Salvatore has been given and tries to adhere to.

“When you get up in the morning think of three ways you can create and increase the value of the company today so when you go home you will have created value for your company and investors,” Salvatore said, acknowledging that the advice helps keep her focused at Megalytics.

The second, she said, applies to life in general, but can also have impact professionally:  always try to find your passion and live it—whether work, outside of work, or both!

When not uncovering new data sources (or trekking thru mountains and hiking trails), Salvatore likes to stay as active as possible. She is an avid tennis player and spectator and has been to many of the opens including Wimbledon, the US Open (five times), the Australian Open (twice), and numerous others.  She also enjoys skiing, cycling and sailing in the South Pacific.

For the past year she has been treasurer of Friendship Force of Chicago, an international travel group with home stays, which allowed her to travel to Russia and Japan and stay in people’s homes. She has hosted groups from Mexico and Australia.

Looking ahead beyond Megalytics and Mt. Kilimanjaro, Salvatore says, “I would like to have an angel investment fund and help counsel young entrepreneurs getting started in the business world.”