Wavemaker Partners and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore has led a S$650.000 investment into locally incorporated startup DataStreamX, an online marketplace where companies can transact live, non-personal data. The company has raised total funding to the tune of S$1.25 million ($876,922) till date,
According to the company, the round will be used to finance expansion of its data marketplace in Singapore, and helping companies in the region monetise their data assets.
In email interaction with DEALSTREETASIA, CEO Mike Davie stated :”Alongside other government initiatives, we are looking to shape Singapore as the leading, trusted nation where global companies transact data.”
In terms of traction, the company claimed it was working with more than 400 data vendors and in excess of 500 data buyers to date, with the Davie explaining: “Our target ARR for Series A is S$1,000,000 and we are over half way there.”
When asked about the exit strategy for DataStreamX, Davie shared: “Due to our complimentary nature to multiple businesses, M&A will be the most likely exit. We have already seen interest in the following forms: multinational industry leaders in their respective verticals who want to build industry specific data marketplaces and analytics firms looking to build out internal data sourcing and processing capabilities to provide better services to their clients.”
For the 2017-2020 period, on the trajectory for DataStreamX, Davie said that venture will be “Series A ready in the next 12 months to cap off 2017,” while adding: “2018-2020 will see us expanding our team globally in two key areas; to address global buyer segments and to address domestic data vending sourcing opportunities within Asia.”
Discussing the specific pain point that DataStreamX addressed, Davie explained: “As marketplace we have two sides of the equation; supply and demand, matching data buyers with data vendors.
Observing that companies are becoming more data-driven and sophisticated, Davie noted that firms now required outside data to understand their market segment, in order to better drive sales, in addition to reducing operating expenses, making better management decisions, building new products.
He also pointed out that Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, was becoming more data driven and expanding internal capabilities.
With regards to the supply side, the data vendors, Davie explained that the role of DataStreamX would be permitting them to generate new revenue streams off of existing data assets. In effect, data vendors can cost effectively bring data products to global markets and sell into non-familiar buying segments using the data marketplace, which Davie equated to having a similar value proposition to having channel sales partners.
Citing industry statistics, Davie highlighted that that Forrester reports 30 per cent of enterprises attempted commercialising their data in 2015, a 200 per cent increase over 2014. That year, only 10 per cent of enterprises took their data to the market. By 2020, the IDC predicts that “data monetisation efforts will allow companies to generate an additional $430 billion in revenues.”
Asked about some of the challenges of a growing a startup in the city-state, Davie said: “Hiring is always an issue in Singapore, especially when recruiting for enterprise experienced sales personnel. Salaries tend to be very high for proven enterprise sales people, so striking the right balance between experience, salary and the level of professionalism demanded by enterprise clients can be a hard balance.”
Additionally, with a number of other countries implementing startup visa schemes in order to deal with the problem of talent scarcity, while calls have been made in Silicon Valley to maintain specific visa schemes in order to attract and retain the talent that drives its startup ecosystem.
In an April 2016 interaction with ZDNet, Jamie Camidge, who heads Muru-D’s accelerator in Singapore, observed that approximately 60 percent of technology vendors in the US tech scene often originated from nations like India, Estonia, Russia, and China.
Camidge adds that while it is simple to establish a base in Silicon Valley, this is not the case for Singapore, particularly for entrepreneurs from within the region such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines who might need to bootstrap their startup ventures. This results in a challenge for technology entrepreneurs seeking to obtain visas, who often have to pay themselves a minimum sum to qualify for an employment pass,
Weighing in on this ecosystem matter, Davie argued: “I don’t see a start-up visa solving the issue, here is our view. At DataStreamX we are looking for the top Data Engineers and Data Scientists. With the government push training these talents in the polytechnics and universities, we do see a good availability of these candidates at a fresh graduate level.”
“Where we see the issue is getting into Singapore the people who have ‘been there and done that’, experienced hires. These people qualify for an EP which isn’t difficult to obtain with their qualifications. The issue is the cost of living and expected salaries can’t be borne by early-stage start-ups in Singapore. Funding doesn’t match talent labour costs. We would like to see programs where we can bring in top global talent at a subsidized rates, where their skills can empower the startups and help training new grads with on the job training,” he added.