VC Breakfast Club Talk Series – The Big Data Discussion

VC Breakfast Club: Expert Panel on Data Management

iAngels Founding Partner, Mor Assia, led our recent VC Breakfast Club discussion with three founders, from the Enterprise Software world, specialists in data management.

Data has received significant attention, this year with the introduction of GDPR. A major regulatory step for Europe, who’s aim is not to simply harmonize data protection and privacy laws, but allow individuals to regain control over their personal data. We’re now seeing businesses being forced to change the nature of their relationship with customers, some reinvent themselves due to potential loss of revenues originating from data monetization and several receiving large fines for privacy violations, Google and Facebook as significant culprits. It’s a space which will continue to hold significant interest for us, as the amount of data being created and used will continue to explode across every sector.

So far we see Israeli startups taking a leading role in responding to this new data reality and have three very talented data management founders in our portfolio including: Nimrod Luria, CEO of Prifender, Ammon Drori, CEO of Octapai and Yariv Tabac from DBmaestro, who have an impressive 69 years of accumulative industry experience.

We asked them to talk about some of the themes and challenges they’re seeing subsequent to the GDPR rulings. Here are a few of the highlights:

Nimrod Luria, CEO of Prifender, emphasized the massive change taking place in the market that isn’t purely being driven due to the GDPR rulings, but is being fueled due to the simple acknowledgement of data’s value. “There is a big change in the market, not just due to GDPR and the fines we’re all scared of, but the realization that data is the new currency, that mining and trading our data is the new gold.” 

Nimrod went onto explain that once companies manage to effectively answer the question of where their data sits and who owns it, the possibilities generated, become endless. But the enabler is really the integration of software that effectively joins up the dots. “What’s most exciting is new revenue streams are being created and organizations are now able to better prioritize business interests thanks to qualified decision-making.”

Ammon Drori, CEO of Octapai spoke of the need for businesses to not overlook the importance of having well mapped out data to ensure the data journey from source to business user is smooth and accurate. ‘Those responsible for Business Intelligence play an important role in moving the data from applications to business users with specific relevancy to GDPR, they are exclusively responsible for the last mile, knowing where the data is and how it flows. They have an important role in correctly mapping data journeys and ensuring total compliance with the GDPR ruling.”

But he went onto elaborate that conducting the mapping exercise, doesn’t come without its pains, especially due to such issues as inconsistent tagging of information and incompatible systems. Depending on the size of an organization, there can be between 6.7M to 30M data elements on average, therefore pinpointing specific data elements amongst tens of Business Intelligence systems is near to impossible. ‘The management of the data is almost as crucial as the data itself.”

Yaariv Tabac, Founder of DBmaestro, spoke of the industry’s desire to work ever faster, which often compromises the quality of output. Something DBmaestro are actively tackling to ensure the automation of data and governance is safe, secure and accounted for. In responding to Mor’s suggestion that corporations with cumbersome legacy systems could create significant issues for simple data migration projects or upgrades, Yaariv cited the example of working with a recent client who used to ship a new release every 5 to 6 months. “Their release would take 3 to 4 days to check and move all the data.” He explained that DBmaestro, were able to get the time required down to 46 minutes from development to production thanks to automating the process, subsequently giving them with the appetite to ship releases monthly. He commented that this now marks a huge transformation in the way companies are now able to operate.

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Serverless Computing, a Paradigm Shift for Software Development

By Avi Arnon, Investments Team

The ever growing expectation of customers for great software products has subsequently brought companies to increase their rate of code deployment and adopt a new “microservices” approach to software development. This approach involves splitting a software application into pieces that can be independently updated in quick release cycles, meeting the consumer’s desire for increasingly sophisticated digital experiences delivered at speed.

However, in the past year, we’ve seen things moving on a step, taking microservices to the next level with the advent of “serverless computing” which marks a paradigm shift in the world of software development.

One of the first to introduce and subsequently revolutionize cloud computing was Amazon with their AWS lambda Serverless platform introduced in November 2014. AWS Lambda is an event-driven cloud computing model whereby the cloud provider manages the allocation of machine resources. In this model, the company does not have to rent and manage servers but only deploy their code to the serverless platform, leaving Amazon, the cloud vendor, to do the rest.

Comparing this serverless revolution to the delivery industry as an analogy, companies are moving away from owning large trucks (representing the “monolith application” run on on-premise servers), to having a fleet of leased vans that they manage instead (representing “microservices” on cloud servers). Realising that things could be more nimble, they adopt an outsourced transportation service (or “serverless platform”) that consists of a fleet of speedy scooters managed by a third party.

Source: iAngels Investments Team

The benefits of this new software development approach, (illustrated above) is that it massively simplifies deployment and reduces the need for System Administration, or a Transportation Manager, to continue the analogy. As a result, by removing the burden of server management in favor of relying on the cloud vendor to manage the infrastructure, developers are able to deliver more quickly, decreasing time to market and accelerating innovation.

An advantageous pricing model for startups
An additional key benefit of adopting a serverless platform is its pricing model, which is not based on the number of servers used (or vehicles on the road) but rather the cost is based on the amount of resources consumed by the application. If there were no users (or no deliveries booked in), the company wouldn’t be charged. This new concept is especially important for startups as it aligns the recurring revenue with the recurring cost, helping small companies to optimize their cost structure at an early stage, even before reaching scale.

Opening up opportunities for increasingly disruptive business models
From a business perspective, serverless technology doubles down on the Software as a Service (SaaS) business model, as it allows companies to have a more granular level of unit economics based on a user’s interaction with applications. This lays the foundation for new disruptive services that take into account cost, speed, quality of service and additional metrics that are yet to be unlocked.

Early signs of large scale adoption
As serverless architecture is an event-based computing system, it has become an attractive option for companies using it for automated backups, customized log analysis and the operation of serverless mobile/web websites – tasks that take advantage of serverless’ attractive scaling and pricing models. Some of the big unicorns including; AirBnB, Netflix, Expedia, plus others have already migrated their infrastructure to a serverless setup and we are seeing many more moving down the same path.

Looking forward, we see serverless technology being the driving force behind many emerging tech trends, including API-driven platforms, facilitating voice-operated systems, internet of things (IoT) applications and even blockchain technology applications where serverless could power off-chain transactions for the execution of smart contracts.

Like all new technologies, serverless architecture is not without its challenges. Currently, the ecosystem that supports this distributed architecture is missing key tools and capabilities that could reduce the barrier to entry, especially for larger organisations. But what we consider to be the most exciting thing on the horizon, is for this growing ecosystem to help facilitate new business models that weren’t previously feasible.

Similar to the way cloud computing changed the face of business by allowing a company of any size to use and sell the best applications available, serverless technology will allow smaller teams, with less funding, to do things that only big companies were once able to achieve.
Just as the cloud revolution enabled WhatsApp to reach billions of users and be acquired by Facebook for $19B with just 55 employees, if we’re to see a single digit employee startup, with a billion users and a multi-billion dollar valuation, it will probably be built on serverless.

Founder Interview: Dr Sagi Lazarov & Nimrod Luria from Prifender

We’re just a month away from seeing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced across Europe which will replace the old Data Protection Directives that were drawn up in the 1990s. A lot has changed in two decades. Vast swathes of personal data are now generated daily and the upgrade in data protection laws for citizens living in a democracy is well overdue.

With the new regulations coming into play on 25th May, we decided to interview the founders of Prifender, (an iAngels portfolio company) Dr Sagi Leizerov and Nimrod Luria, who have developed an AI driven automation system for managing data privacy. Read on to discover what they believe these changes mean.   

 Firstly, can you tell us what the GDPR is and why we need it?

The GDPR is being introduced as a means of strengthening data privacy for Europeans by replacing the old Data Protection Directives. The GDPR website  describes the new directive as being designed to “harmonize data privacy laws across Europe and to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy”.

There’s been 4 years of preparation and debate since the GDPR was approved by the EU Parliament back in April 2016. Companies have been given 2 years in which to comply, with those who don’t comply at risk of facing significant fines.

The GDPR is expected to have significant impact on data governance and management and will impact enterprise software companies across the board.

With the GDPR enforcement date fast approaching, what is the level of enterprise readiness to comply?

Both Forrester and the International Association of Privacy Professionals have studied the question of GDPR compliance and found that many companies (the majority in the case of the IAPP study) will not be able to fully comply by its due date. According to the IAPP, only 4 in 10 companies will be ready by the compliance date. Forrester, which arrived at similar numbers, has even said that many companies are most likely overstating their readiness for GDPR.

Even those companies taking active steps to improve their preparedness for the regulation are facing significant challenges when it comes to the effectiveness of their compliance.  Traditional means for privacy compliance tend to emphasize policies, contracts and training (sometimes referred to as “paper compliance”) rather than controls and control-monitoring.  Without automated controls over the impacted data, it’s almost impossible to really know whether day to day activities are meeting what the policies and contracts are stating. 

What do you think would be the implication for non-compliance and which enterprises would be impacted the most?

To best understand the impact of non-compliance we need to keep in mind that the GDPR includes, for the first-time in the EU, broad breach notification requirements. This means that when companies will experience a security incident (i.e., an inappropriate access or disclosure of personal information), they will have to reach out to both their privacy regulators and the impacted individual to reveal the breach.  These notifications will lead to an audit of the company’s level of preparedness, and any identified gaps in their GDPR compliance will be viewed in the context of the breach.  In other words, compliance violations will be assessed based on the severity of the data breach. Consequences could mean reputational damage for organizations, fines or indirect costs such as increased audit requirements and challenges in signing up new customers as well as others. 

As this regulation concerns the personal information of European residents, will its impact be limited to European organizations?

It’s foreseen that the GDPR will have a global impact, mainly for two reasons: Firstly, it will apply to any organization that uses the personal information of EU residents, even if that organization is not based or is not operating in the EU.

Secondly, it will also apply to EU organizations that operate outside of the EU i.e., it will apply to non-EU residents that transact with an EU entity.

Beyond these two reasons, many international organizations will find it easy to adopt one set of requirements across their entire enterprise, rather than creating a patchwork of requirements for each operating entity in different countries. For this reason, we’re likely to see more organizations adopting global privacy standards that follow the GDPR’s high bar.

How do you expect this market to develop and how big do you feel the opportunity is?

The question should instead be, what we describe as being the market? While the market for GDPR related solutions is large and is likely to continue to grow over the coming years, there is an even larger and more promising market developing which is the opportunity generated by monetizing and profiting from personal information at scale. Personal data is a valuable asset that can generate significant revenue through the analysis, sharing, sale and its connectivity to different sources.

At a time when privacy regulations are tightening up and more people are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of data privacy, monetizing personal data is a challenge leading many organization to either avoid monetizing it completely, doing something small scale or worse, hiding the fact they’re monetizing data. With sophisticated technologies for tracking personal data coming into the market, a highly lucrative (and compliant) market is steadily opening up to organizations from a wide span of different industry sectors. For this market, the size of the opportunity is tremendous.

Can you tell us a little about the response and traction Prifender is getting so far?

Prifender represents a real paradigm shift in how organizations can manage personal information.  The technology is not an incremental step forward, it is a leap forward. The two reactions we’re currently receiving, when we show the technology to privacy professionals for the first time is that “its magic!”  and second comes, “I need it.”  Suffice to say that we’re getting very positive reactions and interest in Prifender as we continue to grow.

Read more about Prifender here.




Colabo Hunts Down Your Competitors’ Customers

How would you like to pitch your competitors’ leads and customers?

San Mateo, California-based Colabo is now offering that escalation in the marketing arms race.

This week, Colabo released competitive lead discovery capabilities for its data aggregation platform, offering what is describes as “predatory lead discovery.”

Read the full article here

Cart Assist Joins Forces With nanorep to Launch a Self-Service Solution With Major Cost Benefits for UK Retailers

Nanorep, the leading digital customer assistant, announces strategic partnership with Cart Assist, an award winning UK customer experience support platform.

Nanorep’s technology will enable Cart Assist to provide unique real-time support and instant answers to online shoppers via self-service knowledgebase technology – dramatically reducing customer support costs and increasing online conversions. Cart Assist’s clients who onboard Nanorep into their suite of service options are experiencing a 50% reduction in customer experience overhead, an increase in response time and improved customer engagements.

Click here for the full article

Automated Sales Company Colabo raises $7 Million

Automated sales engagement platform developer has raised $7 Million in a Series A round of funding from Marker LLC, together with Kaedan Capital and existing investors including Paul Maritz, Raghu Raghuram, Ray Rothrock, The Hive and iAngels. The funds will be used to support its current growth, which currently stands at over 50% month to month.

Colabo’s automated sales engagement platform harnesses the power of infinite dynamic web sources instead of relying on phone and email to engage with potential customers. By doing so, Colabo says that it enables sales teams to increase response rates from leads by over 10 times when compared to phone and email based systems.


Click here for the full article