This week’s Startup Spotlight features Andrew Thomson, CEO and founder of “company matchmaker” startup VentureRadar. The London-based tech startup uses big data technology to trawl through web data to discover and rank up and coming companies, making them visible to potential partners, customers, and investors from around the world.
What’s so special
As a result of the rapid advances in computer technology and the advent of the internet, the tech industry has become ‘democratized’. For generations past, developing a new idea required government R&D grants, access to hi-tech laboratories, or large amounts of VC funding, however nowadays with open access to design tools it is a lot easier for people to develop amazing new products themselves. As the Apple slogan goes, find a problem “There’s an app for that…”.
On the other side of the coin, the startup explosion has been so intense that the ecosystem is becoming saturated, and it’s increasingly difficult for new innovators to shine through the crowd, regardless of how great their idea or service is. This holds back established corporates, who are in need of innovative new tech which can push them in front of competitors, and also emerging companies who are in need of extra funding and expert support.
VentureRadar is designed to help both sides deal with the new tech environment.
VentureRadar has developed a discovery system which combines web crawling, big data analytics, proprietary algorithms, artificial intelligence and expert human interpretation, to matchmake corporates with innovators who specialize in new tech they really need.
Using big data tools, the service trawls the huge amount of open data being released on the internet, looking for ‘signals’ or ‘clues’ being left by new and up and coming companies as they set up their enterprise.
VentureRadar offers a free search engine with more than 200K up and coming companies, and for clients who want to dive deeper the company offers specific custom search projects. In 2015, they connected more than 5000 companies to clients as part of custom search projects, over a range of industries including: Fintech, Industrial, Clean Technology, Consumer Goods, FMCG, Utilities (Water, Energy, etc.), Health, Insurance, Materials, Medical, Transport, Government, and many others.
Meet the founder
Founder Andrew Thomson was born and raised in Scotland, but set up his company down in the emerging tech hub of London. Thomson studied chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, before being admitted to the prestigious University of Cambridge to study a PhD. Thomson decided to study chemistry as it was intellectually challenging, and taught him how to be logical, understand and present data and simplify complex ideas for a general audience, however he always knew that his true goal was to set up his own business. In his own words, chemistry was his way to train his brain to think in an analytical way, his initial framework for working with data.
After graduating from Cambridge, Thomson entered the world of startups with an emerging enterprise in Cambridge. This was his first experience of matching innovators with the companies in need of emerging technology. The startup was building a database of startups in the UK, then Europe and finally globally. It was this experience which taught Thomson how valuable this type of information was to corporates and startups alike, but how labor intensive the process was to document and track emerging startups using the technology available at that time.
Thomson then moved to researching innovation in clean technologies, an industry which focuses on reducing waste and using as few non-renewable resources as possible. His experience was positive, and he developed skills in tracking and database building.
His experiences working for the first two startups, and his technical knowledge developed from his degree at Cambridge eventually motivated Thomson to take the leap and start his own company back in July 2011. Around this time there was a real burst in technology which allowed users to gather and analyze data on a large scale. Inspired by the extremely time consuming manual nature of his previous work, Thomson foresaw the ability to automate and industrialize the tracking of innovation, moving away from the traditional reliance on personal contacts and long hours painstakingly searching the internet for clues.
In the last few years, advances in AI technology have reached a stage where they are commercially useful, and VentureRadar is now applying AI to their dataset, to rate companies and matchmake with corporates in an automated manner. This allows human experts to devote their time to advancing the search and data trawl technology, and reviewing the results produced with a fine comb to guarantee the highest quality for clients.
In the media
VentureRadar provides clients with a regularly updated blog which offers readers curated lists of emerging tech from a range of industries. The blog which features titles like “25 chatbot startups you should know” and “The hottest companies currently equity crowdfunding” has been referenced in leading publications such as the Huffington Post and Computing World, and have impressive share counts.
To the future
VentureRadar aims to become the Google for companies. VentureRadar plans to stay ahead of the trends by continuing to develop new machine learning AI uses, to further automate their system, and allow them to scale.