Entrepreneur interview: Vishal Marria, founder & CEO of Quantexa

Vishal Marria, the founder & CEO of Quantexa talks about using AI and analytics to assess risk of fraud, bribery and corruption.

It’s becoming more accessible for companies to solve highly complex issues through the use of AI and big data. Here, the CEO of a data analytics firm describes his own companies growth trajectory since 2016.

What does the company do and what is its vision?

Quantexa operates in the world of data analytics. We help companies across a variety of industries including financial services, oil and gas, transport and government, to join all the dots in their data and make better decisions. By leveraging the data available within an organisation, we can apply big data analytics to gain insights on customer behaviour to solve issues ranging from money laundering and human trafficking to profit losses.

I’ve been working in technology and big data analytics since 2005, previously at Detica Net Reveal (now BAE Systems) and EY and have witnessed the same issue faced by all my clients: there was no way of instantly forming a clear, single view of their customers. There are numerous consequences for corporates and banks when they don’t truly understand their customers. Our vision is to enable our customers to identify and detect a range of hidden behaviours and connections – from criminal activity to finding new business.

How much initial investment did the company need to start, where did it come from and how was the product developed?

In its infancy, Quantexa was entirely self-funded with an initial start-up capital of around $1.5 million. It’s a brave task investing your own money into a company and I was incredibly lucky to surround myself with passionate, world-class data experts who all believe in our solution as much as I did.

It paid off and within a year, we raised $3.3 million led by HSBC and Albion Capital – this was an incredibly exciting time for Quantexa, we couldn’t believe how quickly we were growing! Our initial funding and Series A fundraising round was invested in product development and building the core platform. We are constantly investing in the best R&D team to ensure that we have a world-class class solution that remains timely and unique. We were always set on creating a platform that solves global problems, so we have focused on international expansion across the EU, US and APAC. We are now based in New York, Sydney, Brussels and of course, London.

What marketing did the company employ to maximise exposure?

Our network has been one of the most powerful tools for us to grow. We pride ourselves on finding and establishing strong networks for our customers and we practise what we preach. People buy people – so we knew that if we had the right talent and the right solution, we would succeed. We have established our credibility through thought leadership at events and roundtables, sharing the problems we have solved for our customers. Last year, we invested into marketing and PR to share our story even wider and establish our team as experts in the industry.

Talk about the company’s growth trajectory.

Quantexa has grown and expanded exponentially since we founded the company in 2016; growing from 0 to £1.2 million in the first year. Year 2 saw a 400 per cent growth from last year and our revenues doubled from £1.2 million to £5 million, and we also expanded internationally and signed major deals with numerous tier one banks; all of which is a real testament to the hard work from our team. We are now in scale-up mode, rapidly expanding our team in London, US and APAC. As a result, our year three growth projections are looking extremely positive and should finish the year with a tidy £10 million turnover.

How important is an inspirational figurehead to a scale-up company?

I believe that an inspirational management team holds far more power than a single figurehead. Once I had decided that I wanted to take the risk, leave my job and set up Quantexa, I knew that I had to get a team of people who shared my vision to join me on the journey. We have all used our specialist experience to grow different departments and create one strong leadership team. Keeping your team motivated, making sure that they’re doing meaningful work that they enjoy and drives clear business benefit as well as developing young talent will keep your team happy. I strongly believe that an entrepreneur who doesn’t listen to his team, or his customer, will ever succeed.

What specific advice would you give to scale-up companies looking to build their company to exit?

The most important piece of advice I could give is to ensure that you remain focused on your market and have a clear vision. In return, you will remain relevant and drive business benefit. Creating a solution is great, but many entrepreneurs can get engrossed by their product and subsequently, try and mould the problem to their solution. Instead, what you must do is constantly listen to your customer, if something didn’t go your way, ask ‘why?’ and change your tact for next time (if necessary!). Keeping that core focus will make sure that you’re on top of your game but also prepared for any potential hiccups that inevitably will come your way.

Find out more: Quantexa

Further reading on entrepreneurs

Interview: Craig Foster, CEO of HomeServe Labs

Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2018 to 2019.

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