Asian startups: Big Data on tap

Zafar Anjum

Shankar should know, being the founder CEO of one of the earliest customer analytics consulting firms - RedPill Solutions. RedPill was founded in 2000 in Singapore, with a conscious focus on emerging markets and was among the first firms to offer analytics as a service in many markets.

Over the next 9 years, Suresh grew RedPill into a leading player in customer analytics. In 2009, the company was acquired by IBM, and became the global analytics services arms of one of IBM's divisions. He led the division globally till October 31 2011, before leaving IBM in January 2012.

After moving out of IBM, he founded Crayon data with Sastri. Together, they thought of helping companies and consumers make use of the Big data wave.

Shankar says that they didn't have problem raising money so far, because of their background of success.

"I am from enterprise analytics background and Srikant comes from digital media space," he says. "Some are looking at Big data from inside the enterprise and some are looking in from outside, and these two worlds are merging. But we both come from a business background."

"Singapore is a microcosm of the developed world; you will see a lot of things in a small geographic space, which is perhaps the reflection of some of the sectors," says I. Vijaya Kumar, Crayon's consultant CTO and ex-CTO of Wipro Tech. "It also has the advantage of being in an emerging markets region. It gives you some kind of a good balance-maturity of a buyer and rising aspirations of a consumer."

India-Singapore Hub

As of now, the company has a team of 75 people, and two-third of them are based in Chennai's development centre in India. There are two sales staff in London and one sits in Sydney.

"We got to tap the Singapore-India hubs in terms of building a product," says Shankar. "From a brand value perspective, the (company) HQ is Singapore. Singapore has a tremendous brand value in terms of security and the strength of the legal system. That is important for a company like Crayon as it deals with Big Data."

"India can give us engineering talent," he adds. "That's how we kind of constructed a dual show model."

"The second thing is that we also believe why can't we do product companies out of Asia," he says. "Why is it that product companies only have to come out of the West? We said we can build great product companies out of here. We have the people. Frankly, a lot of the big companies, if you look at IBM, or Oracle, lot of their development centres are in India, or China or in Singapore. We thought lets show the world we can do it."

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