According to market research group Forrester, more than 80% of all business data is held in an unstructured form, making it difficult to analyse and process. Volantia, a company set up by two former MIT researchers, Claudia Rodriguez and Gerardo Lemus, believes it can solve that problem with software that can automatically extract and structure such data.
The company's flagship product, which is in the process of being readied for launch, is Xtraxis. Using proprietary mathematical algorithms and linguistic techniques, Xtraxis extracts data from unstructured text, such as emails and PDFs, and feeds this into enterprise applications and databases ready for analysis and processing.
The speed at which Xtraxis performs this task promises organisations considerable cost and time savings. It is particularly helpful for financial services companies dealing with large volumes of text holding valuable, time-sensitive data, says recently-appointed chief executive Andrew Wood.
Wood is certainly full of ambition. Volantia, he says, is aming "to dominate the market for extracting data from unstructured text". To date, the company has just a handful of beta customers, but Wood claims to be talking to 180 interested organisations, "60% of whom approached us". "Not since my early days at Wang have I seen so much interest in an idea," he says. Wood's career also includes stints at Oracle and Accenture.
Given this positive market reception, Wood suggests that the EU3.5 million Volantia raised in January 2001 may be enough to build a self-sustainable company. Volantia has also developed a novel business model. It is hoping to supplement its traditional licensing revenues with additional fees based on the volume of data put through its Xtraxis engine. This is made possible by a piece of software developed by Volantia that can track data transactions without having any knowledge of its content.
Wood claims that, even with this pricing model, user savings on time spent reading email and reports, entering and cleaning up messy data, means that Xtraxis quickly pays for itself.
Verdict: Its clear focus, strong business model and innovative out-of-the-box product could make Volantia a global winner.