In tech, it’s often said that the big no longer eat the small — the fast eat the slow. Being quick and nimble is key in today’s tech landscape. However, it’s essential for entrepreneurs to ensure that their products are ready to bring to market before doing so.
INVESTMENT BANKER PROBLEMS
My company, FactGem, was born out of personal frustration from juggling hundreds of Excel spreadsheets. In 2011, I started what would later become FactGem with the simple acknowledgment that I was an investment banker with a problem. I had just completed a more than $100 million, multi-year transaction for a Fortune 200, new, world headquarters project. I ended the transaction with hundreds of Excel models and realized that I needed a better way to extract insight for my customers and investors. I wanted Bloomberg for data— a place where I could log in and extract insights with speed.
IN GOOD COMPANY
The journey from conception to launch was a long and winding road and it was necessary for it to be a timely process. I remember sitting on my then-boyfriend’s couch talking about my challenge. Being a successful tech investor, he told me that the technology itself would be next to impossible to build.
With this news, my Midwestern roots and work ethic took over and I decided that I was going to solve this problem. I knew that others had to have the same challenges as me and I was unwilling to let it go. As it turns out, many companies out there did have the same problem that I did – they could get their data into one place but could not easily connect it and extract insight. They were stuck dealing with IT departments who wouldn’t make the data easily accessible and once business leaders finally received the data, they couldn’t make sense of it.
THREE KEYS TO BULLETPROOF TECH
For other entrepreneurs who have identified a common challenge that they are passionate about solving, keep the following tips in mind as you begin your journey:
- Build a team that understands the pain points of your end users. It wasn’t until 2013 that FactGem hired our CTO and started the true development process. Our top engineer who came from the intelligence space, understood the challenges of integrating big data and being able to change the data model in real time to fit the logic of the business itself. The technology of the last 30 years has forced companies to fit their business logic around the data which makes getting to meaningful insight rather tricky. It has been a long road and the tech is as hard as my now husband said it would be.
- Work hard. Try new things. Ask for customer feedback. FactGem is “Rated E” for Everyone. We offer a solution that enables the business analyst, data scientist, marketer or executive to use their knowledge to connect data quickly and extract insight without spending time writing code to get through an integration. Our “ah-ha” moment came only through customer interaction and feedback. We realized that the professionals who needed business insights were often being held hostage by IT departments who were hoarding data and not dedicating the necessary time and money to the integration process. The executives who needed to make decisions quickly couldn’t get what they wanted. Trial and error and customer feedback helped us test and develop a product that effectively addresses common challenges.
- Don’t rush launching and accept that tech is always going to evolve. After a year into working for a Fortune 500 retailer, we have learned a great deal. Our product offering is clear. We understand the need for continued enhancements to our data science stack and are working with major BI vendors to build connectors to make those tools useful to our customers. At this point, we felt ready to launch our application. Tech advancements will happen but ensuring your product is in a state that will welcome enhancements will lead to more success.
Gartner anticipates that the BI market will reach $18 billion this year – FactGem is going to make that investment worthwhile for companies everywhere. Instead of getting to a few insights with just a selection of data, FactGem’s Data Fabric will instantly connect all data within a business. Waiting until 2017 to bring our product to market not only ensured that the tech is sound but ensured that there was a market need.
As you begin the process of becoming a tech entrepreneur, remember to not only surround yourself with passionate individuals but ones who challenge you, your ideas and plans. Listen to the customer and be disciplined about what your product does and who you are serving. These things alone can’t guarantee success, but their absence will certainly prevent it.