This AI-powered Data Intelligence Provider Gained From Tighter Privacy Regulations
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Singapore-based start-up Near, which provides AI-based data analytics services to firms across the world, has gained from the new regulations to govern online data privacy in Europe, Anil Mathews, the company’s chief executive officer told Entrepreneur India.
“We call ourselves a data intelligence platform and we are deriving intelligence from multiple sources of data...merge them, sort of fuse them and understand people’s behavior in the real world in a privacy-compliant way,” Mathews said.
According to its website, Near has data on 1.6 billion users across 44 countries.
At a time when major tech companies such as Facebook are facing flak around how they use and sell personal information of their users, Near says it has benefitted from all that’s been happening around the buzz about privacy.
Commenting on the debate around privacy, Mathews said, “We are a very strong advocate of privacy...we have seen how some companies have misused data in the past which has led to so much uproar in the market.”
The fact that Near, doesn’t collect any personally identifiable information helps its case. “All our data revolves around a Near identification,” said Mathews.
With investments coming from the likes of US-based technology conglomerate Cisco and Australian telecom provider Telstra, it became necessary for Near to go through rigorous checks around privacy, subsequently making sure that they were in compliance with laws that came much later.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), introduced last year for countries belonging to the European Union, is aimed at protecting all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches, changing the way countries and corporations across the world look at data.
“When GDPR came...a lot of companies had to actually pull out of Europe—it created an opportunity for us as we were compliant. So, we were doing more business after GDPR than before that because of the vacuum it created,” Mathews said.
Merging the Real and Digital Worlds
According to Mathews, what makes Near different and free of competition is its capability to bring together data from both the real and the digital space, and analysing them together to provide the best possible solutions to its customers.
“We are creating a new category here,” said Mathews, adding that it is what has helped the company become so “valuable” in the enterprise software space.
In July, the start-up raised $100 million from London-based private equity firm Greater Pacific Capital. Near counts Sequoia Capital and JP Morgan among its investors.
By putting together and integrating data across the real and digital, Mathews said Near gives its customers a chance, in turn, to capitalize better on their customers, helping understand consumer behavior better than what it would be like if data were analyzed separately.
Near says it makes real-world data actionable, and enables companies to use that intelligence for better customer acquisition, product development and business decision-making.
“The hardest problem that we have solved is using this multiple data (sets) together,” Mathews said.
AI the Way To Go
Near relies almost entirely on machine learning to provide end solutions to its customers. The reason is, Mathews says, it makes skimming through complex and different kinds of data much easier.
The company has AI bots to help customers in marketing, wherein you put in a question and the bots provide you with an answer.
“There’s a lot of AI and machine learning in the platform at every stage...because a lot of data you get is just noise,” Mathews said.