Big Data & Business Intelligence

A Different Kind of Business Intelligence

The world outside your company's walls matters too. Jean-Philippe Schepens is co-founder and CCO at Swan Insights. His startup has a unique approach to Big Data.

23 Feb. 2016
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Jean-Philippe, what's the core concept behind Swan Insights?

Business Intelligence tries to mine insights from all aspects of your corporate data. Before you can even start making connections, though, you first need to gather the data from all of your sources. At Swan Insights , we want to look beyond the borders of the corporation itself. External data offers enormous potential for this. For this reason we use as many data sources as possible to achieve a broad view of the customer.

How is your product different from other products on the market?

Our unique selling point is the tremendous diversity of the data sources our platform draws on. It doesn't just analyze corporate data, it incorporates information from news and press releases, open data, social media platforms, online communities, the Internet of Things and much more. Swan Insights collects and links data from highly disparate areas, producing powerful insights in the process. Yet any real benefits from that data can only come if it is prepared in a timely manner for direct use. A recruiter for example might be able to analyze freely accessible corporate data and the Xing or LinkedIn profiles of employees to determine which companies have openings or have just fired an employee, as well as how long employees tend to stay at companies, their shared interests and so on.
Our platform is also self-learning. If users filter data to find useful information, the platform notices those decisions and optimizes itself accordingly. This improves the precision and value of the results.

Many startups experience growing pains. What were your biggest challenges?

One the one hand, you naturally have to find the right people. We had luck in that regard, as there were four cofounders, each with different talents and backgrounds. That produced a strong mix of technical and scientific knowledge, together with entrepreneurial know-how. But the biggest challenge is ultimately finding capital. And by that I'm not just talking about any old financing, I'm talking about the money backed by experience. When we founded Swan Insights more than two years ago, the Big Data market was still quite young and a number of aspects were still unclear. For this reason we looked for investors who knew the market and who could help move our company forward. That's precisely what we found in our first customers. They understood what we stand for. In exchange, of course, we had to share our visions and strategies with them.

How did you handle that?

We explained our ideas and demonstrated how our customers could benefit from them. The investors recognized the potential return on investment and the opportunity to revolutionize their existing business models. That in turn gave us the chance to experiment with various business models until we'd found the right area on which to concentrate. This trial-and-error phase is very important for a startup. You have to explore as many opportunities as possible. We initially put our focus on the B2C market, but then pivoted increasingly in the direction of B2B. We really began to gain traction within the financial industry, and have since expanded into other fields.

What do you hope to achieve with SCALE11?

We presented at the CeBIT's Founder's Fair back in 2015 and received a good deal of positive feedback. For this second visit we'll be taking part in SCALE11 and hope to raise significant interest for our new solutions for the financial, human resource and real estate industries. For us it is a tremendous opportunity to build momentum and connect with more interested parties.

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