Liverpool’s Baltic Creative was the perfect host for this round of Northern Stars where a packed audience gathered for a spectacular evening of startups delivering their 3 minute pitches in the hope of securing a place in the grand final. First place was eventually awarded to data analytics company Peak.
While still enjoying the afterglow of this recent success I managed to catch up with the winning team at the Peak office. Busily preparing for the Tableau Conference in Las Vegas the following week, company director Richard Potter managed to take time out to speak with me about Peak and their incredible first year starting up in the North West.
Can you give me some background on you and your company?
We started trading in December 2014, founded by myself and David Leitch. David has a strong background in IT project delivery for companies such as RBS and Co-op Bank, while I have a background in financial analysis, tech and investment banking. We started Peak with a simple mission; to help our clients perform better using data and analytics. We have been very fortunate so far – going straight into a project with Morrisons Supermarkets for their online retail division, which really helped accelerate what we are trying to do.
What are you working on right now?
We have several client projects that we are working on right now, as diverse as pharmaceuticals, retailers, tech startups and research institutions. However, our main focus is our data-as-a-service platform development. We are delivering this to several of our existing clients as well as developing the platform further to support our growth in 2016.
Where did your idea come from?
Our idea came from observing a gap in the market – whereby companies in the analytics and BI space were very focussed on technology, not business outcomes. Even the ones who considered business outcomes were not able to guarantee them. We wanted to approach the market differently – to use technology to achieve business success. This means putting technology at the core of a company’s value proposition and not treat it as a supporting function of the business. Our data-as-a-service platform does just that. We are saying to companies “let us manage your data and all that goes with it so that you can focus on your customers, on what you are doing.” We enable our clients to gain a total understanding of their business so they can focus on taking action based on the insight our platform provides.
Explain your business model
To our clients it is simple. They will pay a fixed monthly fee and we will take care of the rest. The great thing about that model for us this that our costs scale as our business grows, as most of the cost of cloud comes from data flow, storage and processing. Therefore, we only need to invest in core IP upfront, not our own storage or infrastructure to make the platform work.
What’s been the single biggest highlight for your business?
Our first major contract with a pharma company who shall remain nameless…
Has there been any local businesses or entrepreneurs that have inspired you?
The people I admire the most are those who see an opportunity to do something different and make it happen. That could be in any walk of life or any industry – for example I love what Oi Polloi (Manchester) and End Clothing (Newcastle) have done in the fashion retail space. I recently went to Montreal and stumbled across a men’s fashion shop there. When mentioned Manchester they immediately reference Oi Polloi. The same has happened in Tokyo, too. I think if you can achieve a quality of product and purity of brand that transcends continents like that, from a shop in the Northern Quarter in Manchester, then that is truly amazing.
Why should investors be excited about Liverpool’s/North West’s tech industry?
For the same reason they should be excited about tech in the UK. For me, there is no difference and tech investors – particularly from overseas – should be presented with one investment opportunity in the UK, not a separate message for London and the rest. We have a skilled workforce paired with a creative energy and the business conditions for tech companies to thrive in UK. That is just as true in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and any other city in the north. I think that is why investors should be excited by what is on offer here.
What does success look like for your company?
We want to become the global market leader in Data-as-a-service. It is that opportunity that is driving us forward – a desire to do something unique and exciting as a team.