10 UK data entrepreneurs you should know about

As part of its Data 50 Awards programme, Information Age today presents ten of the UK’s top data entrepreneurs.

The Data 50 Awards, the UK’s premier initiative for celebrating data leadership and excellence, today reveals the finalists of a new category that recognises outstanding innovation and achievements by data entrepreneurs in the UK.

Among the 300+ nominations submitted for this year’s Data 50 programme were a flurry of chief executives and directors from many of the UK-based companies creating business value form data and capitalising from its explosive growth.

All functions involved in driving data innovation in the UK were considered for this year’s Data 50 list, including the vendors creating the technology, the end-users deploying it, and the consultancies and integrators that get deployments over the line.

Last month, Information Age revealed the 50 people who made this year’s list. Today, ten entrepreneurs are also inducted into the programme. One of them will be revealed as the ‘best in class’ data entrepreneur at the Data 50 Awards ceremony on 18 May at the Montcalm London Marble Arch.

The awards honour people and firms at the forefront of data – those transforming organisations and enhancing decision-making through its use, managing and controlling its proliferating growth, and driving business value.

The Data 50 Awards ceremony is a must-attend event for the UK’s data community, attended by hundreds of the top leaders and influencers.

N.B: The entrepreneurs are listed alphabetically, not ranked in order of achievement.

1. Adrian Barrett, Founder and CEO, Exonar

Adrian Barrett recognised the explosion in data and the challenges of securing it over six years ago. He set about building a platform that could help organisations meet the challenges that they were yet to realise they would face. Utilising British developers, a small amount of angel funding to pay their salaries, some open-source components and a significant amount of his own reading around data management and machine learning, he created a big data capability before the term had even been coined. He did this as an engineer, out of necessity, not marketing. From humble beginnings and without the significant backing of sizeable US software companies or investors, Barrett has created a platform to solve organisations’ data management issues. He has worked with Reading University and the KTP to acquire access to machine learning minds whilst supporting academia. He has stretched the minds of all of his engineers whilst continuing to support UK-based software development and skills.

2. Christine Andrews, Managing Director, DQM GRC

Formed in 1996, DQM GRC specialises in data governance, risk mitigation, compliance (GRC) advisory services, benchmarking research and technologies to de-risk data assets and help clients use their data to drive business performance. The company provides consulting, research, and data protection products and a unique, proprietary technology and data governance platform for tracking data flows. Over 80% of major commercial data owners, including BT, Callcredit, D&B, Equifax, Experian and Royal Mail, rely on DQM GRC to protect their valuable data assets. It was one of the first companies to recognise data as a valuable business asset that needs protecting before it can become an essential asset for driving business potential. Having joined the company when it had just three people in 2003, Christine Andrews has helped it grow to a team of 25, supporting most of the large data owners in terms of data protection and governance, as well as a host of customers wanting to become data-driven.

3. Gary Luke, Managing Director, Connexica

Connexica specialises in offering data warehousing solutions, business intelligence solutions and software development services to public sector organisations, primarily the NHS and local authorities. In 2015, Deloitte named it as the fastest-growing business intelligence and analytics software development company based in the UK in its ‘Fast 500’ programme. Connexica’s analytics platform, CXAIR, is a search powered business intelligence, data warehousing and predictive analytics platform which allows users to search for the information they need using ‘Google-style’ natural language search. This is combined with a SQL-free ‘data warehouse’ platform and drag and drop data entry form wizard to deliver a self-service solution that requires minimal training to use. This allows public sector organisations to focus less on maintaining a complicated system and more on collecting data and then turning that data into meaningful information. Unlike traditional reporting and analysis tools, CXAIR does not require end users to have SQL or OLAP skills as the data is assembled and held in a highly optimised search engine away from the original source data.

4. Guy Marson, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Profusion

Guy Marson has helped organisations drive business value and improve services through clear data strategy for 20 years. Under his leadership, Profusion has worked with a leading global bank to ensure all customer communications are well targeted and disparate data sets across online and offline marketing are united to give a single customer view. Profusion worked with the bank to advise it of the value of real-time feedback from data, allowing it to make strategic decisions quickly and fulling understand the impact of different campaigns at any point in time. Profusion’s approach helped to significantly increase customer engagement with the bank’s marketing campaigns, ultimately having a knock-on effect on customer loyalty and ROI. Within the same organisation, Profusion also implemented a cutting-edge new data science technique known as PRIDE to determine the best time to communicate and re-engage customers. The technique was developed by the University of Essex, and through Profusion’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University of Essex, Profusion was able to take an academic technique and apply it to real-life business problems. Despite its complexity, PRIDE is around 80% better than traditional campaign methods and its application saw the maximising of click and open rates with provisos for seasonality. The project was an excellent example of how academic research can be successfully translated to a commercial setting. The model is so successful it is being implemented with Profusion’s other clients.

5. Guy Mucklow, Co-Founder and President, PCA Predict

In 2001, Guy Mucklow set up leading SaaS company, PCA Predict, with co-founder and CEO Jamie Turner. PCA Predict was one of the first companies to recognise the potential of cloud computing as a more efficient medium for delivering data-as-a-service, launching its hosted address validation service to the UK market in 2001. The company now processes millions of transactions for some of the largest organisations in the world, including ASOS, Oxfam, Dow Jones and Tesco. PCA Predict provide their software to over 11,000 businesses including 40% of the UK’s top 500 internet retailers. Under Mucklow’s leadership, the business has evolved from a start-up, sustaining losses in the early years, to a global business with a £14 million turnover and plans to reach £50 million in the next few years. As the company continues to grow organically PCA Predict has increased its market presence globally, this year launching with a new American brand ‘Addressy’ and offices in both New York and Germany. Mucklow also sits on the board of techUK’s Big Data Council, a group which is focal in helping to shape the government strategy for the UK.

6. Ian Manocha, CEO, Gresham Tech

Gresham’s first customer went live in 2012 followed by a steady uptick of growth including six new customers in the first half of 2016 – three of which US based. The acquisition of C24 Technologies last year doubled Gresham’s customer base in the UK, Europe, North America and Japan. Led by Ian Manocha, the acquisition of C24 Technologies last year strengthened Gresham’s leadership position as an enterprise data integrity solution within financial markets. The move has brought together a world-class team with an in-depth knowledge of the growing data challenge in financial services and how to tackle it. The combined technology allows customers to ingest, visualise and transform financial messaging data. This has accelerated product development for new innovative solutions for both Gresham and C24 Technologies’ combined customer base. In September, Ian opened the Innovation Labs in Bristol. The Labs were set up for the Gresham team to work hand in hand with customers to develop the very latest in data solutions. The team uses java spaces technology to deliver a high performance memory and compute grid as a base platform for everything that is delivered. In October, Gresham partnered with Mount Street, a leading commercial real estate loan servicer, to transform the way loans are processed. The joint endeavor has made loan processing faster and more accurate by using advanced data techniques and technologies.

7. Kenneth Tan, Founder and Head of Product Development, Sardina Systems

Dr. Kenneth Tan has been in the large-scale systems sector driving business value and innovation for almost two decades. At Sardina Systems, he leads the product development team responsible for building the OpenStack automation software to optimise OpenStack cloud operations. He has previously excelled with CloudFabriQ, BNP Paribas and OptimaNumerics in product development and business development roles, involving products and services sold to major data centre operators in automotive, energy, defense, meteo and finance. He has led regional teams including UK, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia and Germany. The newest innovation from Kenneth’s side is an OpenStack software technology that automates and easily manages the OpenStack cloud platform and HPC operations in large-scale cloud data centres, leveraging machine learning to enable highly efficient operation, by raising server utilisation and reducing energy consumption.

8. Martin Campbell, Managing Director, Ormsby Street

CreditHQ started life as a ‘credit score subscription’ product for Barclays Bank, but its current management realised that the potential for improving small business cash flow was vast and took over the management of CreditHQ in 2014. A next-generation version of the product was launched in 2015, with innovation and data at its core. Using multiple data sources, from both a company’s own accounts to credit data on more than seven million businesses, CreditHQ addresses late invoice payment and poor cash-flow by providing easy-to-understand insight into how businesses should trade with their customers and what action to take to reduce risk of non-payment. In addition to its growing UK customer base, CreditHQ is also a product that is highly suited to corporate partners such as banks, which service thousands of small business customers but find it hard to maintain meaningful engagement with these businesses. Being able to offer a supportive service for free that can directly improve the success of their customers whilst providing opportunities for ongoing communication is of huge benefit, and CreditHQ is already available to small business customers of Deutsche Bank in Italy and Germany, and Williams & Glyn in the UK.

9. Paul Black, Co-Founder and CEO, sales-i

Paul Black has developed a pioneering SaaS business proposition focusing on service architecture and delivery, setting the company’s technical direction and spearheading business and sales partnerships. He developed sales-i in early 2008 and has since transformed the business into a multi-million pound, industry-leading organisation, now spanning the UK and USA. Black has pushed the company forwards since its establishment, championing the use of new technologies to continue its ability to read huge amounts of data and present this back to its customers in a format that they can both understand and action. The company has twice been listed as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the country by Deloitte. Its products fill a specific need that many modern businesses have: to be able to operate more effectively and more profitably through the use of big data.

10. Steve Marsh, CEO, GeoSpock

The core GeoSpock technology was inspired by Dr. Steve Marsh’s PhD research at the University of Cambridge, where he was designing and building a custom super-computer architecture to carry out real-time simulation of human brain function (extreme-scale biologically plausible neural networks). The machine in question was capable of processing over 10 billion synaptic messages each second. At that time IBM’s Blue Gene project took two weeks to carry out a similar simulation. For the first three years Dr. Marsh built a small team working from his front room in Cambridge. In 2016 the team grew to 22. The team comprises 18 engineers with expertise in big-data technology, 3D game engines and web-scale systems – drawing on the very best of the rich well of talent that resides in Cambridge but reaches as far as Spain and Russia to acquire the required skills. Nobody has left the business since inception. Developing the product has required heavy up-front investment, ahead of any major commercial returns. Dr. Marsh has succeeded in attracting $5.4 million Series A investment focused on product development and is currently planning Series B investment, including VCs in the U.S. to fund commercial growth. Current applications include real-time traffic analytics and location-based mobile advertising. The first adtech customer wishes to interactively visualise and extract precise and optimised campaign parameters from two years of historical advertising data (roughly 1.4 trillion data points), in less than a second.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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