Big data is supposed to change the world. In some sense, it already has. Amazon, Samsung, and Netflix use data to recommend content or products to you. Apple harnesses your app usage behavior to improve their software design.
Big data goes as far back as Google using its massive data trove to determine the search results you see. A study by Bain shows that companies which adopt big data can leapfrog their competitors. You either join the rest or lose out.
Yet the process of buying and selling data – and real-time data in particular – has been painful, says Mike Davie, founder and CEO of DataStreamX, a Singapore-based company that wants to make these transactions dead simple. He tells Tech in Asia that the startup has just closed a S$500,000 (US$368,000) seed round from undisclosed private investors to realize its vision.
He gave a few examples of how companies are already transacting non-personal, real-time information: Vodafone pushes data to Tom-Tom, and Quantum Inventions has done likewise with Google, providing Maps with traffic data in Singapore.
“But on a global scale, these transactions are difficult. Say a company from France wants to buy live footfall data for Indonesia. It’s difficult for buyers and sellers to find one another. Furthermore, with no marketplace, negotiations take place between firms, making it a long and drawn-out process,” says Davie.
It’s solution is to create an online marketplace to do these exchanges. But why not focus on historical data? Besides the world lacking a place to shop for real-time streams, Davie says there’s a huge demand for such data from organizations due to the competitive and economic edge to be gained from utilizing them.
“If you’re creating a transportation system, you want to know, in real-time, what the gas prices are so that you can save costs. Also, companies can create sophisticated operations systems and analytics, and that is where real-time data is useful.”
The act of opening up real-time data to third parties isn’t new. Programmers have had access to stock exchange updates for decades, and more recently crytocurrencies like Bitcoin have taken the idea of programmable money to the next level.
DataStreamX differs in that it offers all kinds of data – weather, traffic, ship movements, and more – in one convenient place. It has an API for both buyers to stream data to their apps after they subscribe to it (DataStreamX takes a cut), and sellers to transfer data from their sensors to the platform and offer it for sale.
Intriguingly, the startup is going after multiple industries instead of targeting one. But that’s because customers tend to want data from across industries.
“Let’s use the port of Singapore as an example. They need to know how big the ships coming in and going out are. They need environmental data, like how strong the currents are, because they affect how quick ships can dock. They need transportation data – how fast can the trucks come in to pick up the cargo?”
DataStreamX is still in the early beta phase, having just graduated from JFDI, Singapore’s premier startup accelerator. It has started live trials with potential customers, and has signed on to help kickstart government agency IDA’s data-as-a-service pilot program, which makes datasets in the private sector easily available to customers.
Interestingly, being at the product validation stage has not stopped DataStreamX from investing in marketing. It brought on Shauna Roolvink, founder of brand consultancy BrandHub, as the director of marketing. Its other founding employee is Navas Khan, who serves in a marketing and customer acquisition role at the company. It has five engineers on the team, and they’re all situated in India.
Before founding DataStreamX, Davie worked at Samsung where he developed business models for next generation mobile technologies and did business development for telecommunications infrastructure.
He witnessed how the mobile industry was trying to make money off the vast amount of data that’s being generated.
“But no one knew how to monetize it. The potential is there. DataStreamX was founded on the vision that the world is moving towards real-time data processing. Big companies are creating this data, and people want it,” says Davie.