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Simplifying choices for the world

Simplifying choices for the world

Crayon Data, a Singapore-based big data company is touted as one of the fastest growing in Asia. The founder talks about the company’s success, and their aim of working with top global companies.

EACH day, we are faced with making choices – from deciding what products to buy from a huge selection of brands, to selecting a potential life partner from a plethora of social dating apps.

Crayon Data, a Singapore-based big data company, and one of the fastest growing in Asia, understands the overwhelming effect choice can have.

Its co-founder and chief executive officer Suresh Shankar says: “Choice discovery is wasteful and inefficient, with an enormous amount of time and effort being spent by both consumers and enterprises to find relevant information and choices.”

This is where the SimplerChoices platform comes in.

Crayon Data’s proprietary platform harnesses the power of big data, covering one billion tastes, 25 billion taste connections, 25 million products, 31 million users and 15 categories.

SimplerChoices uses a complex machine-learning technique to apply cognitive thinking algorithms to collected data. It then generates massive, global consumer tatste graphs that plot affinities and connections across various categories, entities and products.

Powered by SimplerChoices, Crayon Data’s personal concierge app Maya then maps this taste graph to the internal data of businesses, allowing them to deliver highly personalised choices to consumers.

Its business concierge app Yoda operates in a similar way, but delivers personalised business profiles and indicators to business professionals.

Crayon Data’s solutions have also proven their worth overseas.

Currently, the three year old company’s clients span sectors such as hospitality, retail, banking, telecommunication and media and advertising sectors in the United States, Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

As of March 2016, Crayon Data has also received funds from Mitsui & Co and Ratan Tata. These undisclosed investments come in addition to the $10 million in Seed and Series-A funding from angel institution investors such as Jungle Ventures and Spring Seeds earlier.

It has also won prestigious industry awards such as the TiE Silicon Valley’s 2014 Global Hot Technology Start-up Watch List, and was a finalist in IBM’s Watson Mobile Developer Challenge in CODE_n, Hanover last year.

The Global Company Partnership (GCP) helps companies become globally competitive by providing assistance in building internal capabilities, manpower development, gaining market access and gaining access to financing.

It was clear to Mr Shankar from the onset that Crayon Data had to expand to mature markets to meet the demand of multinational corporations, and also see if its innovative product could compete on a global stage.

Last year, having expanded to Britain and the Middle East, Crayon Data was looking to break into the US market and establish its presence as a global company in big data analytics.

Crayon Data chose to expand to mature markets to meet the demand of multinational corporations

Under IE Singapore’s Global Company Partnership (GCP) grant which helps SMEs expand their businesses overseas, Crayon Data was able to enter the US market.

IE Singapore also partnered them in piloting a business accelerator programme known as letsgo@NYC, targeted at high growth companies with the resources and interest to enter the US market through New York.

IE Singapore also provided financial support for costs such as rental and manpower incurred by Crayon Data when it set up its US presence.

Mr Shankar says: “My experience was that the US is a very welcoming market. If the technology looks cool and works, people are willing to try it.”

When asked about his proudest moment in venturing into the US, he cites the time when he met the management of some of the largest venture capital funds in the US, and they were “blown away” by his products.

“They said they had never seen anything like it. That’s when I knew we were doing something right.”

Crayon Data also implements a “Google-like” human resource culture across its global offices to attract and retain top talent, and scale effectively as an international organisation.

Today, Crayon Data has a non-hierarchical structure, using a “mission is the boss” model where roles are contextual and different fields of expertise are respected.

Crayon Data uses a non-hierarchical structure, using a “mission is the boss” model

Every employee, even more junior ones, is given company shares based on their experience and performance.

Mr Shankar also states that new applications for SimplerChoices are discovered every day by client-paid “lab” efforts, and each of these creates its own new market.

Crayon Data aims to serve a billion customers by 2018 by working with top global companies.

Article adapted from The Straits Times.

The Global Company Partnership (GCP) programme provides relevant assistance to internationalising Singapore-based companies in the areas of building internal capabilities, manpower development, market access, and gaining access to financing.

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