The company of the day is ColdLight, based in the US. ColdLight has the goal of delivering Prescriptive Intelligence into the hand of the 80% of business users. You will find below an interview with Ryan Caplan, President and CEO of ColdLight. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!
Interview with Ryan Caplan, President and CEO of ColdLight
Basic Introductory Questions:
How do you feel about being the most promising ‘company of the day’ per Microsoft?
It really is an honor and an achievement to be considered “Company of the Day” feature by Microsoft. When we first began designing our Neuron user experience, it was critical that it be easy to use and offer a design that was unique and beautiful. It was clear to us that Microsoft WPF was the right direction for us. We take it as a significant validation of our business model, our technical approach and our achievement to date as a company that Microsoft has considered us.
How would you describe your company’s product and mission?
Our goal is to deliver Prescriptive Intelligence into the hand of the 80% of business users for whom traditional predictive analytics technology is simply too complex or expensive. Our SaaS model makes it simple and inexpensive to get answers to your most complex business questions in seconds, with no hardware to install, no software to maintain.
Where did the idea for this company come from? What was the genesis of the idea?
ColdLight’s founders spent many years integrating and designing business intelligence and predictive analytics tools. The result was always the same. Business users loved the visualizations and reports, but were left scratching their heads asking “These charts are beautiful, but how can’t this tool tell me how to achieve my business goal?” Unfortunately the answer was “No.” So we founded ColdLight to solve this major gap in the market. We wanted the solution to be simple enough to learn in minutes, easy enough to deploy in hours and one that required no ongoing support or maintenance. Our SaaS-based Neuron platform provides the business person with powerful advanced machine intelligence to help them get ahead and stay ahead of their competition. It is delivered in a beautiful user experience. It is incredibly simple to use. And customers love it.
Impact of externals:
How did you fund the company? VC, Angel, Bootstrap? What is the chronology of funding?
To date the Company has been funded by individual Angel Investors and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA.
Are you currently seeking funding? If so, what kind and how much?
We are presently seeking $1M – $1.5M in growth capital to expand sales and the depth of our product suite.
What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?
We are very excited about the BizSpark program, not only because it helps early stage companies maximize their capital that might otherwise be spent on expensive software licenses, but because it is a forum in which to interact with experts in Microsoft technologies. Given that we are using the latest and greatest in WPF for our presentation tier, it is critical that we have access to the experts to support our development goals.
Product and Market questions:
Describe your offering. What do you sell and how do you sell it?
Our flagship product Neuron is defining a new breed of intelligent software applications capable of scouring vast volumes of data, making strategic recommendations and actually learning from success and failure. Imagine fusing millions of financial transactions, account balances, CRM data, individual portfolio performance and cross-referencing the results with financial news from major sources around the world, major stock indices and demographic data. Neuron identifies your most at-risk customer profiles and offers the perfect Prescription to ensure that you retain those customers. Neuron then monitors the results of the actions you take based on those recommendations to refine its thinking in the future. The result: your business retains your most profitable customers. ColdLight’s patent-pending technology extends beyond the financial services space into other key target markets. Neuron can proactively identify at-risk patients for health providers, identify optimal customer acquisition and retention strategies, and understand consumer purchasing habits to promote customer loyalty and more. We sell Neuron as a SaaS-based monthly subscription and will soon be offering a pay-for-use model.
Do you have any Software IP? More specifically, is there something unique you are doing in the marketplace?
Our Prescriptive Intelligence engine is proprietary to ColdLight. The ability to fuse volumes of data and automatically identify the best courses of strategic action is unique and proprietary. We use a very sophisticated series of algorithms and techniques to achieve the results. Also, our user experience has patents pending due to the simple way in which are rendering very complex multi-dimensional data.
What would you describe as your "primary" market? Are there any secondary markets you service?
Our primary focus is on Customer Retention with a secondary market in Operational optimizations. Most of our early customers are focused, especially in this economic environment, in getting ahead of the customer attrition curve. They want to minimize customer attrition and are using Neuron to help them achieve that. In addition, we see a lot of traction in operational improvements such as reducing medication administration errors in hospitals, optimizing climate controls in commercial buildings and even setting optimal price points for consumer goods.
Do you have a growth plan or strategy? Any plans for Internationalization?
We are planning to grow organically and through strategic partnerships.
How many employees do you currently have? How many software developers/engineers?
We presently have 8 employees, 5 of which are developers.
Are you hiring? If so, what kinds of positions?
We are growing pretty quickly so we are hiring accordingly. Right now we seek the most talented individuals who have a passion for building beautiful products in Java and WPF. In addition, we are looking for great Sales professionals that understand consultative selling.
What technology platforms are you building on? Why? (No taboos)
Our presentation tier is built in WPF and we are porting to Silverlight in the coming months. Our Neuron core services and adaptive intelligence engine are built in Java. We like the flexibility that WPF affords us on the front end, allowing an incredibly dynamic user experience while the scalability and ease of implementing our core engine services in Java provide us with scalability, OS independence on the backend. We are deploying Neuron in the Amazon cloud which opens up a whole host of opportunities for us when it comes to SaaS deployment. Essentially we can achieve incredible performance, groundbreaking technology and keep our prices very competitive for even small businesses. In many ways, we feel we have the perfect blend of the right technology for the right solution.
Do you have a role model or someone you have looked up to? If someone in particular, whom?
I grew up watching Cal Ripken. I always admired not just his raw skill and his ability, but his passion and work ethic. If there is one thing I learned from him it is that talent is not enough. It takes perseverance, passion, and the ability to withstand uncertainty and setbacks. That is true in baseball, its true in business, and it is true in life.
What were some of your previous endeavors before starting this company?
Prior to joining ColdLight I ran an international development team for Sanchez Computer Associates, the creators of one of the first real-time banking engines, and I was COO of Electronic Ink , a software design and development consultancy that focused on the user experience.
Do you have any advice for young software entrepreneurs?
Find a great idea that you are passionate about and that the market needs desperately. Without either of those, you are going to have a hard time. If the passion is not there, it is hard to get to market. If the market is not there, it is impossible to make money. Surround yourself with smart people and be willing to take risks. And lastly, try to make more good decisions than bad ones.
Where do you see opportunities today and in the future regarding the Software/Internet arenas?
I think the huge future of software is in cloud computing. The idea of deploying commercial software in the cloud is only beginning to show its power. I think that all applications will migrate here and open up possibilities that we cannot even imagine. I think it is finally time for true Software as a Service to come to life.