import•io is based in Shoreditch, the tech area of London.
I decided to interview CEO David White (who co-founded the company with CTO Matt Painter and CDO Andrew Fogg) following the funding they receive in March 2013 from international VCs and angels (read here).
In particular, I was interested in their solution, which promises to turn the web into a database with applications in data journalism, retail trend analysis, commercial intelligence for due diligence and personalized events listing services.
FinSMEs: Hi David, can you tell me a bit more about you? What’s your background?
David: “Hello Ermanno. I was the Head Technology Innovation at Royal Bank of Scotland, the fifth bank in the world at that time. In 2009, I left to do startup in the financial services tech space and I co-founded Kusiri, a provider of forensic investigation software, which I exited in 2012. Last year I launched import•io“.
FinSMEs: What’s import•io?
David: “import•io aims to fix a problem: the web was originally designed for data and documents but it is increasingly used as a database. We can see it in its obvious form in scrapers, which are written pieces of code that allow developers to move content (and make it available) from a web property to another one.
We have developed a solution that aims to democratize the access to data by allowing people to do this time- and resource-consuming activity easily, just in a few minutes for web sites and apps“.
See here how it works.
FinSMEs: What’s your business model?
David: “At this stage, we are having a look at the market and we have two types of users of the platform.
Firstly, we have users who get data by themselves. Bloomberg – for example – has a thousand employees who are dedicated to data acquisition.
Another example is Planvine (a provider of a going-out guide), which recently started using our platform. The challenge they had was to aggregate data from 500 London-based locations that ran events. With a traditional method, maybe it took 9 months of work to build that infrastructure out. Using our platform, they can do that work in about a week, resulting in a significant time saving solution.
For these companies, we offer a monthly subscription.
Secondly, we have another class of users who probably don’t write the scrapers, who are aware they consume aggregated data, for example, to monitor the competitors and their products. In this case, we don’t charge them and we encourage them to use the platform. The benefit for us is that every time somebody uses the platform to extract data from a web site it improve our core algorithm and the power of the product and give us a better picture of the web“.
FinSMEs: Let’s speak about the company. How many people work in import.io?
David: “We are fifteen at the moment“.
FinSMEs: The investors. What can you tell us?
David: “Our backers Include Wellington Partners, a European venture capital firm, especially Eric Archambeau, who has a lot of experience with data companies. We are fortunate to have Louis Monier involved. He is the founder of AltaVista, the first large search engine, he then worked at Google and eBay. Finally, we have the French entrepreneur Emmanuel Javal, who ran tech companies in Silicon Valley before returning to Paris to continue his activity there.
In my opinion, these people can make the difference. It is good for us to have money as well as their invaluable support in terms of advises and experiences“.
FinSMEs: How are you using the funds?
David: “We are now focused on building out the product, which is in beta stage at the moment, improve the underlying core technology and launch it in a full production stage“.
FinSMEs: Do you plan to raise another round of funding?
David: “Not now, we do not have plans to seek other capital immediately. Maybe, at the end of the year, at the beginning of 2014, we will raise another round to focus on the growth aspect of the company“.
FinSMEs: Future plans?
David: “As said above, we are now focused on product technology. We intend to expand internationally in 2014, opening an office in the Silicon Valley (Bay Area) and maybe in NYC“.