The Business Owner: Erki Kert, Big Data Scoring
The entrepreneur gives his view on why the government should help cut down on red tape barriers for small businesses
Founders: Erki Kert
Proposition: Big Data Scoring is an essential tool for use by banks and financial institutions to determine the creditworthiness of individuals based on data secured online. It does this by tapping into the broadest source of information from across the internet, using all publicly available information. This intelligent research brings lending into the digital information age allowing lenders to make informed credit decisions.
How is your business different from what’s already out there?
Firstly, there aren’t actually that many competitors or similar businesses out there.
Traditional credit bureaus (e.g. Experian, Equifax, CallCredit) mostly base their credit assessments on a person’s past payment behavior.
At Big Data Scoring, we analyse a person’s publicly available information and provide assessments based on this analysis.
So instead of just looking at how well you paid your last gym membership, we’re also able to provide an insight into the person behind the credit.
In summary, we are different from any potential competitor because we collect the biggest amount of data per each applicant and as a result, can make a robust assessment of someone’s credit behavior.
Other companies just focus on bits and pieces of available data as opposed to the full picture.
How did you finance your business?
In the beginning the business was funded by the founders.
In the summer of 2015, we closed our first institutional funding round and as a result, two private equity funds came on board (London based Novator and Greek based Olympia).
What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?
Our main focus is very much on product quality, namely the predictive power of the Big Data Scoring models.
Our primary aim is to provide as much valuable information for lenders as possible. We are constantly looking for new data sources and enhancing the statistical models to even better understand that information.
What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?
When selling to large financial institutions, we have to be prepared for long sales times. Since our clients are large and operate in a highly regulated environment, a sales cycle from the first meeting to actual live use could be six to 18 months.
What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?
Sales is mostly based on individually approaching the potential clients and working hand-in-hand with their risk and business departments. Big data solutions are not off the shelf products that you can buy and forget.
We’re on the same big data journey that our clients are, during which the algorithms and models constantly improve and develop.
For smaller lenders, we have developed an automatic sales channel through our website, comparable to a self-service platform. Lenders can register to use our solutions, do the simple technical integration and be up and running on the same day.
Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?
This depends very much on the service and market. We’ve originally come from Scandinavia which is a small market in global terms. In order to grow, export is our only possibility. Also, when you have a strong product that works and adds value to your clients, then it just makes sense to make it available to potential clients all around the world.
Always remember to put product quality first. What often happens is that companies put growth before quality and this might backfire in the long term. We’re taking this approach to growth conservatively in that sense.
What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?
At the moment my can’t live withouts are all travel focused: Skyscanner, Booking.com and Uber. I travel for most of the year. Without those three, travelling would be pretty much impossible. Also for team communication Slack has become irreplaceable (especially since we have the team scattered across the globe).
Describe your company’s culture in three words:
Let me preface this with the word ‘very’: entrepreneurial, proactive, flat. We only hire top talent in their field and then pretty much let them loose.
We try to keep ourselves bureaucracy free and action oriented to let each person be creative and think out of the proverbial box. When working for BDS, you have to write your own task list. A manager will not do it for you.
If you don’t have a deep interest in the field and don’t share the same vision of helping to bring lenders into the digital information age, you’d get bored pretty quickly.
What would you like the government to do for small business?
What the government can do is let businesses grow and make sure all possible senseless obstacles that inhibit productive business growth are removed. I don’t think the government should support businesses proactively in any way. What they should do instead is make sure they don’t get in the way when companies want to grow.
Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?
Difficult to name any people. I meet great people every day and find most inspiration from people who share a strong can-do attitude and entrepreneurial spirit.
Where do you want the business to be in three years?
We want to be helping as many lenders and consumers as possible. More informed credit decisions are benefitting all parties in the equation and we want to spread tools for doing that globally. Using big data will become a credit industry standard once the benefits have been widely felt. At Big Data Scoring, we’re well positioned to lead this change.
What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?
Think as an owner. Always.