Asian startups: Big Data on tap

Press and Media   |   
Published January 13, 2014   |   

In September last year, Crayon Data, a Singapore-based big data startup, hit the headlines when it raised US$1.4 million in second round funding from angel investors.
Serial entrepreneurs, Suresh Shankar and his partner Srikant Sastri founded this Singapore-headquartered company in October 2012. The company has a development centre in Chennai.
Big opportunity in Big Data
The company’s aim, as stated on its website, is to become a go-to space for everything Big Data – not just creating products and applications but nurturing and developing ideas and thought leadership.
“From the opportunity perspective, everybody is talking about Big Data, so much so that it has almost become overhyped,” Shankar says. “We see a big need because what is happening now is that as we are speaking we probably are carrying three laptops, couple of phones, one or two tablets. We are all living, walking sensors, emitting data like that. One estimate is that there will be 50 billions sensors in the world in 2015. The problem is that everyone has figured out how to throw out data from these devices but no one has figured out how to make it useful for a business or a consumer. That’s what the Big Data play is all about, right? There is a huge amount of data as a tsunami but how do I make use of it?”
“We didn’t look at it from the market size perspective,” he says. “It is a multi-billion dollar market.”
They saw many companies offering Big Data services but no one was offering it on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
“The other opportunity was that we saw most of the players were either focused on soft-ware selling or they were services, outsourcing model,” he says. “But we see a lot of CIO, CTOs, CEOs, they are shifting toward a very SaaS model play. Can I buy it on tap?”
And that’s what they offered. Currently, it offers two products: Simpler Choices B2B and Simpler Choices B2C.
Why set up base in Singapore?
Why did they choose Singapore to set up their company?
“I live here,” says Shankar. “My last start-up was here. We sold it to IBM. I did a global job for IBM from here. So obviously it is home and makes it easy to start it. But there were couple of other things. We received pretty strong encouragement support from the ecosystem here. EDB Singapore said we want to be a Big data and analytics hub. SPRING Singapore, IDA, they all told me: tell us what you need. They wanted to encourage home-grown companies. That was one of the key things in that area.”
Shankar should know, being the founder CEO of one of the earliest customer analytics consulting firms – RedPill Solutions. RedPill was founded in 2000 in Singapore, with a conscious focus on emerging markets and was among the first firms to offer analytics as a service in many markets.
Over the next 9 years, Suresh grew RedPill into a leading player in customer analytics. In 2009, the company was acquired by IBM, and became the global analytics services arms of one of IBM’s divisions. He led the division globally till October 31 2011, before leaving IBM in January 2012.
After moving out of IBM, he founded Crayon data with Sastri. Together, they thought of helping companies and consumers make use of the Big data wave.
Shankar says that they didn’t have problem raising money so far, because of their background of success.
“I am from enterprise analytics background and Srikant comes from digital media space,” he says. “Some are looking at Big data from inside the enterprise and some are looking in from outside, and these two worlds are merging. But we both come from a business background.”
“Singapore is a microcosm of the developed world; you will see a lot of things in a small geographic space, which is perhaps the reflection of some of the sectors,” says I. Vijaya Kumar, Crayon’s consultant CTO and ex-CTO of Wipro Tech. “It also has the advantage of being in an emerging markets region. It gives you some kind of a good balance-maturity of a buyer and rising aspirations of a consumer.” [Click here to read the complete article]