The Big Daddy of Data
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Anil Mathews, 46, Founder and CEO, Near
The June edition of Entrepreneur India magazine unveiled the fourth annual listicle of the Tech 25 – Class of 2020.
When Anil Mathews decided to launch Near, the industry was undergoing a huge digital transformation where brands and publishers were capturing a lot of user behavior data primarily originating from their digital properties. There was an opportunity to monetize data better by merging this online data and real-world intelligence to get granular insight on users. Marketers could use this new understanding of users for better data-driven decisions. Talking about the solutions Near offers, Mathews says, “This is where our offering became a game-changer where we integrated the first-party data with intelligence derived from human mobility, and other unique real-world signals - generating behavioral insights.” For the first time, publishers and marketers could marry the online and offline world to understand the behavior of users not just based on their online behavior, but also the behavior they exhibit in the real world.
Near’s strength lies in fusing data signals from disparate sources and making them available through highly intuitive SaaS products that enable its partners to extract maximum value. Leading global publisher NewsCorp, as an example, leverages Near’s data enrichment offering to drive enhanced Programmatic advertising for its clients. Sharing another example, Anil says, “With WeWork, we overlay their real-estate data with our insights to help them get a deeper understanding of audience profiles across neighborhoods. With this intelligence, WeWork could develop a dynamic pricing model for different locations, and move away from a flat pricing model.”
Founded in 2012, with headquarters in Singapore, Near was an early and probably the only player in APAC to provide location data that was used in digital advertising. In 2014, it expanded into Australia and Japan and started using location data to power visitation insights in addition to advertising, which led to dropping the ‘Ad’ in ‘AdNear’ in 2015. This was in line with its natural progression of using data for more than just advertising.
As people are on the move while using their devices, a large amount of data is emitted every second. In fact, Near ingests close to more than 10 terabytes of this information on a daily basis from multiple data sources. With such large-scale input data streams and noisy pings, it becomes difficult to infer the right signals. To overcome this, its inhouse data scientists have developed proprietary models that convert diverse sets into actionable, accurate intelligence. When asked about the path to profitability, Mathews says, “With Near’s lean team structure, we have been profitable for some time now. We are doubling down on acquiring resources - in terms of data, people, and market reach to ensure sustained growth. The most important aspect, not just in the tech space but in any business, is the unit economics. Near’s business model being SaaS, it only helps that much more in the path to profitability.”
Year and City of Launch: 2012, Singapore
Growth chart: The flagship product, Allspark crossed $10Mn ARR within 10 months of its launch in 2017. The company has been almost doubling revenues YoY since then.
Employee strength: About 85 employees globally
Patents: 7 patents applied for
(This article was first published in the June 2020 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)