EC1 Capital

Big Data for Humans Takes Off With AirAsia Deal

Portfolio company Big Data for Humans announces a strategic partnership with Tony Fernandes' AirAsia Group.
Julian Julian Thu 13th Oct 2016 10:44
Alexey Rudenko

Today EC1 portfolio company, and leading Data Science-as-a-Service (DSaaS) for customer marketing, Big Data for Humans announced a strategic partnership with Tony Fernandes' AirAsia Group. As part of this deal AirAsia, Asia's largest low cost airline boasting more than 40 million customers a year, is becoming part of Big Data for Humans fast growing list of enterprise clients , while supporting its APAC operations going forward in a newly formed JV vehicle headquartered in Singapore.

We first backed the business in the summer of 2015 as it came out of Techstars, and we are delighted to continue supporting Peter Ellen in his third venture, after the recent acquisition of Maxymiser. At the time we led the seed round, our investment thesis was that software would solve an increasingly acute skills gap in data science by democratising it. Since our investment in the company a few critical milestones have been achieved, which boosted our confidence and conviction in our original thesis and led us to double down:

  • Product / market fit unlocked: the market opportunity to build a leading global marketing technology company (or martech to use the jargon) has crystallised within retail and travel, two trillion dollar sectors attracting billions of dollars of marketing spend across multiple channels every year. The volume of transactional data generated by enterprises in these sectors is astounding, however more often than not its potential remains largely untapped due to the complexity and cost associated with orchestrating it and ultimately actioning it. What was just a hypothesis when we first invested, that marketers would value and pay for a solution that productises and democratises the power of data science in the cloud, has been validated: marketing teams at major department stores like Selfridges and Jelmoli, big supermarket retailers and ecommerce companies like Woolover and Wordery, and now large travel players like AirAsia are using Big Data for Humans extensively to automate customer analytics to drive incremental revenues, achieving remarkable ROI from the platform.
“Firms will fill the data science skills gap with services and technology.” Forrester, Predictions 2016
  • Strong additions to the management team and board: Peter has managed to assemble a team of retail and software veterans, with recent appointments of Javier Brage (former CFO or Oracle Maxymiser), Matt Rees (former head of sales EMEA at Oracle Maxymiser), Angela McCourt (senior HR roles at Apple, Viacom and Arcadia), Sheila Power (ex MD at 5one/Mastercard) and David Wilkinson (former GM at Selfridges); as well as strong hires in the technical team up in Scotland. Last but not least, Tony Fernandes himself, who has joined the Board bringing his unparalleled entrepreneurial experience and global network.

There will no doubt be challenging times as we continue to build a presence in a large and competitive marketplace populated by fierce incumbents, but we are convinced that the Big Data for Humans world-class team is well equipped to build a very large global business, even more so now with a strong corporate partner such as the AirAsia Group on board.

We look forward to the next leg of this journey.

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