How I Launched a Big Data Start-up

Finding a niche in the field is key to success

15 September 2014

Image: Profoundis

I started out my career at Infosys, a multi-national business technology consulting company, where I got introduced to working with data analytics back in 2010. It was an amazing time to break into the industry, and I was excited about the field and its many possibilities. Thus when I decided to be a cofounder of a start-up, I knew it had to be centered on big data.

There was just one problem. Big data is such a huge field that drilling down and choosing a focused niche was a challenge. My company clearly couldn’t cover it all. As a team, however, our team of four was more excited about making sense out of what is known as “textual content” like that produced by blogs, news, reviews and social media posts, rather than crunching numbers. To do this, we utilize data mining, natural-language processing, and machine learning.

Our company, Profoundis, with offices in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Kochi, India, developed a product called Vibe, which helps collect information across the Web based on a single e-mail address. From that address, the program will find images, social media accounts, work history, topics of interest, and more to build an in-depth profile on individuals with the promise of not breaching privacy. Our engineers are currently building proprietary algorithms that will search, collate, mix and match, and build profiles out of e-mail IDs—a service no other company offers. The program is already being used by marketers, sales teams, and human resource specialists.

While developing Vibe, we figured out a very important point. Social media—which produces structured data sources—is just one avenue to get data. The real data is locked up deep in the Web. Vibe is looking to scale itself into an intelligent tool that can make sense out of the unstructured sources, such as government websites and news sources to improve sales and marketing productivity. It is a big vision that we have and we are striving to reach it.  

The power of data is unparalleled. With the advent of the Internet of Things, the data being generated is going to grow exponentially. This means big data is here to stay and we are happy to have founded a company that is applying it in a new way. There might be slow-shifting or radical changes in how big data and its applications are being perceived, but one thing is for sure, and that is the field will keep growing.

blogArjun Photo: Profoundis

If you are looking to start your own company to provide services or products in this space and have questions for me, please submit them below. Within this large arena, you can most definitely carve out your own unique niche and build an exciting business.  

Arjun Pillai is an IEEE member and the cofounder and CEO of Profoundis, a big-data service company located in Kochi, India.

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