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Spark Ventures CEO talks Qrious, Digilife and smart data

Sathya Mithra Ashok | Sept. 16, 2014
Rod Snodgrass discusses the focus areas of the NZ unit within the larger group, and its semi-independent nature that allows the division to function like an incubator within a telco giant.

You can bring together credit card transactions with mobile network data to work out, say, if you are offshore and the credit card is being used in a certain location, we can verify if the phone is near that credit card. If it's not, it is likely that it is fraud because it is in a different country. Big data has been overhyped in many cases. We prefer to use the word smart data -- because there are tons of data around, it is about what you do with it.

We are already using Qrious internally for Skinny and Lighbox, because that is our internal proof points. We are going external within the next month. We have already got one external customer we are working with. We are focused on getting out there in the market and creating a B2B product that drives better outcomes for the businesses.

We want to focus on commercial outcomes but we would also like to drive NZ by exposing data where we can and data owners are OK with that. [We want to make to available] to the data science community, the academia, the public in general to use it and see what they can do with it. We have not got a monopoly on innovation. We know that. So we would like to democratise data to the extent you can within the confines of keeping it secure and private where it needs to be.

Qrious is a multi-layered platform, and these can be consumed as products or services. You have got the storage, the compute, analytics and products built around those and there is a front end where they have got visualisation tools as well. So where the product is BI-as-a-service, they have their own dashboards where they can get the information they need in almost real time around things to do with cross-sell, up-sell within their customer base and those sorts of things.

Q: How do you expect Qrious to grow after launch?
RS: Currently full time staff at Qrious is less than five but there are a number of consultants and contractors supporting us at the moment through the early stages. Our focus now is getting business development people who know how to sell data solutions and the data scientists to help support the process and product development. To date it has been more development people building the platform. Now it is more moving them to classic commercialisation and moving them to market.

We do expect the team to grow as we launch to the market. And we will start with New Zealand. We are not excluding the idea of some of these businesses being able to be taken offshore, particularly elements like Vigil, but we talk about being NZ first. Our focus is here, but if it is a venture that can be scaled offshore, absolutely. That might mean bringing in new owners or different partners.


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