With an eye on Asia, Israeli startup Iguazio counts IPO in its roadmap

Israeli startup, a data analytics platform provider Iguazio, which had raised $33 million earlier this year in a Series B round, plans to expand to larger Asian markets like China and Japan by second half of 2018. The three year old startup said it will also consider a listing sometime in the future – likely in the US on the lines of most Israeli firms – as part of its roadmap.

“Together with my two co-founders, Yaron Segev and Yaron Haviv, we went public with our previous company Voltaire on NASDAQ and that was a very good decision. We also have a plan for an iguazio IPO in our roadmap. Companies originating out of Israel usually go public in the US markets but things are changing and we’ll see what happens,” Asaf Somekh, the startup’s co-founder and CEO told DEALSTREETASIA in an interaction.

The startup which is valued at $100 million after its last funding round in July, has built an analytics platform for IoT, finance and other services that require real-time processing. Among the names that it works with is Southeast Asia’s largest ride hailing app Grab.

Among its backers are Verizon Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group and Dell Technologies.

Iguazio has recently opened its Asia Pacific headquarter in Singapore and kicked off a penetration phase for Asia’s big data and business analytics solutions spending forecast, excluding Japan, that is expected to reach $13.6 billion by the end of 2017, according to IDC.

In an interaction with the portal Somekh said that despite having raised a large Series B round, fundraising was always on his mind, and also discussed about the the Asia Pacific market for big data, and the China pportunity.

Edited Excerpts:

After the latest funding round, iguazio as a data platform provider seems to be on an expansion trajectory. What is the plan going forward with the geographical expansion, particularly in relation to Asia Pacific? 

We based our APAC headquarters here in Singapore to cover the region. We’re seeing great demand for our product here, in Hong Kong and around Asia Pacific in verticals such as automotive and IoT, finance and cyber security. iguazio will further expand into China and Japan in the second half of 2018.

How do you see the market for iguazio in Asia and particularly Southeast Asia. Are there any particular partnerships or pockets (countries) that you have zeroed in on?

We have a channel-based go-to-market strategy, and have been forming partnerships with a variety of channels in the market. In Southeast Asia we’ve got great channel partner coverage including system integrators, value-added resellers, OEMs and technology partners. We also work closely with end users on demand creation.

Do you see the growth and demand for big data in the region promising. Which areas or sectors in particular would you be able to put it to use and how?

We’re seeing ground-breaking innovation in this region, such as in IoT, financial services and cyber security, which surpasses other parts of the world. There is a lot happening in IoT, specifically in automotive and smart mobility. With Grab for example, we enable them to manage a continuous stream of data that facilitates real-time matching and booking, surge pricing, optimized driver decision-making and driver effectiveness.

Another important sector is financial services. The regulatory environment that banks, hedge funds, credit card companies, stock exchanges and others operate within requires them to analyze and act upon years of data every day. iguazio addresses these needs by correlating various data sources in real-time, combining historical and real-time data and accelerating performance with a simplified data pipeline, while aligning with strict security standards.

In terms of investments, the last Series B funding round was large. Is that what you had set out to raise? Also, are we going to hear further fund raises any time soon?

As a CEO, I always have to think about fundraising, so I was thinking about the C round while raising our B round. We’re pleased with what we raised and are still constantly approached by investors, but an additional funding round is further down the road. We’re very happy with the new investors we brought in because they are a strategic fit for iguazio and not just investors with financial resources. Verizon, Bosch, Dell and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange represent our target markets and thoroughly understand our product value as experienced clients. The use-cases we work on together demonstrate the need for faster data across the IoT space, smart mobility and of course financial services.

Are you looking for a listing option in future? If yes, which exchange would it possibly be and by when could you start working in that direction?

Together with my two co-founders, Yaron Segev and Yaron Haviv, we went public with our previous company Voltaire on NASDAQ and that was a very good decision. We also have a plan for an iguazio IPO in our roadmap. Companies originating out of Israel usually go public in the US markets but things are changing and we’ll see what happens.

How do you see competition in the space that you operate. Are you competing with any local Asia Pacific firms or global firms in the space? What is it that you provide that others don’t ?

We don’t see direct competition from companies originating in the Asia Pacific region. System vendors address today’s needs with outdated complex data pipelines that require very long deployment periods at extremely high costs. While our competitors offer solutions that hide the problem, we believe in fixing the problem from the ground up. Simple infrastructure, together with a unique data model is how we differentiate ourselves. Our unified platform lets customers ingest, enrich and analyze data – all in one simple, fast and secure platform. It accelerates the deployment of a variety of AI and analytics services, eliminating data pipeline complexities and substantially reducing time to insights.

Any estimate on the size/value of total market in Asia for big data and the services that you offer. What is your target going forward in terms of percentage of this market to be captured? You could give a five-year timeline if you have?

Asia’s big data and business analytics solutions spending forecast, excluding Japan, will reach $13.6 billion by the end of 2017, according to IDC. We’re currently still in the penetration phase, but we are growing very quickly. We announced our General Availability earlier this summer and see a great demand for it alongside successful use cases. The next steps will be about market share.

What do see as a challenge for adoption of big data in Asia Pacific. Are global trends in big data and business analytics hinting at something different than Asia Pacific?

We see similar issues that are in other market regions: it’s about the skill gap, the lack of data scientists and lack of data-driven business thinking which still requires a lot of education alongside more work from solution integrator. Many solutions in the market are too complex and therefore essentially inaccessible to mainstream enterprises. iguazio simplifies deployment and improves time to results for the end users. We’re working with enterprises which hadn’t started the data-driven journey before and now they are, due to our ability to make it simple for them.

How do you see China as a market for your data platform. Is the region (China) more of a big market or competition for your firm?

China is a huge opportunity. We’ve seen several Chinese companies coming to Israel and working with startups like us on innovation in the Chinese market. We’ll be expanding into China towards the end of 2018.

What is it that is different about the Israel ecosystem according to you that drives such innovation. Do you see a need in Asia to emulate the practices or government led programmes that encourage the startups to make the impact? What would be your suggestion as a three-year old firm that is valued at over a $100 million?

The Israeli culture nurtures entrepreneurship. It nurtures the taking of risks, maybe because of the political environment we live in. It also accepts failure, which is a very important step in the process of nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation. All of us in our past had some successful ventures but also unsuccessful ones as well. We learned from our failures and that’s how you nurture innovation.

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