Blendo makes data accessible for companies and helps them to stay competitive

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Blendo makes data accessible for companies and helps them to stay competitive

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This time Joe talks to Kostas, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blendo, our first interview with a startup from Athens. Blendo works in ELT, they allow their clients to access all of their data, so they can use the data directly. Blendo helps the company to validate its data. One could say Blendo becomes, therefore, part of the infrastructure of the company.

Kostas started with technology at an early age. He started early on in his studies to work with data.

“Data is the blood and oxygen of companies to remain competitive”

The HQ of Blendo is in Athens, but the legal entity is registered in Delaware. The reason behind it is that the first investors of the company have been from Israel and they agree to locate the headquarter of the company there. For some time, the startup has also been located in Tel Aviv, so Blendo now considers itself a global company.

“Being a founder is a life-transforming experience.”

Blendo has most of its customers in the United States but has employees in the US, Israel, and Greece.

“We re-invented the ETL process”

“I belong to the analog to digital generation. We started analog and ended up in the digital age”

Find all the links and show notes here: https://www.startuprad.io/blog/blendo-makes-data-accessible-for-companies-and-helps-them-to-stay-competitive/

By |2019-11-08T11:11:49+01:00November 8th, 2019|0 Comments

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Blendo makes data accessible for companies and helps them to stay competitive (Video)

This time Joe talks to Kostas (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kostaspardalis/), CEO, and Co-Founder of Blendo (https://www.blendo.co/), our first interview with a startup from Athens. Blendo works in ELT, they allow their clients to access all of their data, so they can use the data directly. Blendo helps the company to validate its data. One could say Blendo becomes, therefore, part of the infrastructure of the company.

Kostas started with technology at an early age. He started early on in his studies to work with data.

“Data is the blood and oxygen of companies to remain competitive”

The HQ of Blendo is in Athens, but the legal entity is registered in Delaware. The reason behind it is that the first investors of the company have been from Israel and they agree to locate the headquarter of the company there. For some time, the startup has also been located in Tel Aviv, so Blendo now considers itself a global company.

“Being a founder is a life transforming experience.”

Blendo has most of its customers in the United States but has employees in the US, Israel, and Greece.

“We re-invented the ETL process”

Not sure if you noticed, but Blendo is the first startup from Greece, which we interviewed. You may remember we are aiming for 1/3 startups from Rhein-Main, 1/3 from the rest of Germany and 1/3 international startups (sometimes with ties to Germany, sometimes not).

“I belong to the analog to digital generation. We started analog and ended up in the digital age”

Affiliated Links

Our Affiliate Partner
Co-Working WeWork
Marketing / SEO / Graphics / Sounds and more Fiverr
Email service? G-Suite
Looking for a bank account for your startup? Have a look at our partner Penta Penta Bank Account

Learn more about our Affiliated Marketing here: https://www.startuprad.io/blog/affiliate-marketing-at-startuprad-io/

 

Transcript

Intro: Welcome to Startuprad.io, your podcast and YouTube blog covering the German startup scene with news, interviews and live events.

Joe: Welcome everybody. This is Joe from Startuprad.io, your startup podcast and YouTube blog from Germany here in lovely Frankfurt. And you can tell from the back I’m here again at my study, and you can tell from a beard eat it’s getting fall here. Before it used to be the leaves are turning brown it’s starting to rain a little bit. Now, it’s more the IKEA catalog arrives and pumpkin spice is available at a big coffee chain. Nonetheless, we have a Saturday afternoon and I’m very happy to have Kostas here with you. Kalimera.

Kostas: Kalimera, thank you so much for inviting me to be part of this conversation today.

Joe: Yes, totally my pleasure. We should say that it’s an exclusive here and you’re the very, very first startup from Athens that ever made it into my podcast; very welcome. But before we talk about the startu, Blendo, can you tell a little bit about yourself?

Kostas:Of course. So, yeah, my name is Kostas. I’m a software egineer, that’s how I started. Things have changed a little bit though after my involvement with… with Blendo, but we’ll talk more about this later. I started with technology at a quite early age. So, I was happy enough to see things happening like seeing the internet for the first time where like Greece was sharing just one night before the whole country. I… I was using and mismarking different web browsers like Mosaic and Netscape, names that some people may… I don’t know like, they think that they will find them in a museum or something today. And the things have happened by the end of the 90s with the crash there and all the expectations that we had about technology that changed. And of course, the second wave of having mobile devices and the clouds and whatever is happening today. So, yeah, I go… I consider myself like a very fortunate person, because I belong to a very small part of a generation that I usually call the analog to digital generation, because we started with the analog era and went up into digital. And with all… all these I had the opportunity to process…. to experience this process.

So, I studied Electrical and Computer Engineering here in… in Greece. And I started from my, let’s say academic years to work a lot with data with stuff like how you can represent data, how you can put semantics around data to make the data more self-descriptive, and how we can make machines understand information on a higher level than just streams of data. So, I’ve done a lot of things around technologies, data representation, data modeling, storage solutions and database systems for… for data. And that’s like the most relevant part of my technical background, let’s say when it comes to how Blendo was realized as… as a… as a company. So, I worked a lot in Europe with any institutions around European universities, I did those research in the space. And then at some point, I decided that I was feeling that something was missing. I’m very… let’s say, I… I value freedom a lot. And when I say freedom, I mean both, (inaudible) [04:45], you know, like and also like, implementing things. So, but then I also value a lot… I value creation. So, I felt like (inaudible) [04:55] and from what I was doing back then and figure out a way to create value that I can, you know, understand and feel that someone’s getting this value directly from me. And I started thinking about building a company. To be honest, I didn’t know what I was messing with in good and bad way. (inaudible) [05:23] journey so far and I’m pretty happy about it.

Joe: When you’ve been talking about in good and bad ways, I was wondering, would you have started Blendo if you would have known everything you would know now? And I also seen that Blendo is like registered in Delaware, at least according to LinkedIn.

Kostas: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I would start Blendo again. That’s both for personal reasons and also for reasons that are beyond me, like when you build something and you see that there are people, companies, institutions out there that get value from what you’ve build, it’s like very strong motivation to say that, “Yeah, I would do it again.” Apart from that, the company and becoming being like a founder, it’s a very life transforming experience, at least for me, and this is something that I would never change, like it’s an amazing journey. Once, it’s… yeah, some choices would be different at this point. We can discuss about this, but it’s not something that you can know beforehand anyway, unless you’re experienced as an entrepreneur and you have done it before and you know your market very well. So, yeah, there are some things that I would do different, but no, I’m… I would make the same choice of building the company again. And regarding the company, yeah, the company’s incorporated in Delaware. It’s not… there is a subsidiary here in Greece because we have our R&D here in Greece. The reason that the company was incorporated in Delaware was twofold. One was that we were aiming mainly for the market in the States, and also for investing reasons because we started… our first investors were from Israel, and we needed to have like a common ground in terms of the legal framework for building a company, and Delaware is a place where everything is well understood by everyone. So, it was it was very good choice at that point. And it was a very good choice in general to be honest terms of incorporating the company.

Joe: I’m not too sure how much of operation you have in the United States. Did you consider it like, tiresome to set up the company from abroad?

Kostas: Can you repeat the last part of your question?

Joe: Did you consider a tiresome, was it a lot of work to set up the company when you were not American? Or did it just work smoothly for you, you just booked an internet service and that was it?

Kostas: It wasn’t that difficult to be honest. Like, they actually took like, 3, 4 days or something, but to know like, the right people to guide you. So, we were fortunate enough to have some lawyers from Tel Aviv. There, they guided us in everything and it was a very process. Things get a little bit more complicated when you start interacting with IRS. But again, it’s not something that’s much different than what is happening in Europe in general. I’m not talking about Greece now, because Greece might be a little bit of outlier when it comes to things like bureaucracy. But I think that someone from the UK or Germany or even France, probably, it’s not going to be like much, much different from what they have experienced. And actually, I incorporated the company and operated the company, therefore, like, I don’t know, more than a year without visiting the country. So, it worked pretty well.

Joe: When you say you incorporate the company without visiting the country, do you consider yourself a Greek startup, a European startup, or an American startup?

Kostas:That’s a good question. I would say now that we are a global startup. Like, we started from Greece, we had move to Tel Aviv and stay there for a while so we can kick start the company. After that, we started working the sense that we have, like the majority of our partners are from other The United States, and especially the West Coast. We have investors from both Israel and Europe. Our customers, most of our customers are in the States. We employ people in the States, we employ people in Canada, we employ people in Israel. So, yeah, at the ends, we are Greeks, we have our R&D here in Athens. But if you want to compete in something that’s in the market, that it’s actually global and when you are especially like a tech heavy company where the product’s actually transforming almost every industry out there, I think you should aim to be a global company as… as possible. So, yeah, we are a global company.

Joe: A global company; very good. We’ve been talking such a lot about the company and Blendo, can you tell us a very easy, dumb it down for business students, what you guys are actually doing?

Kostas: Yeah. So what we are that we allow companies to get access to all the data they generate, both on the clouds and on premises. Actually, we are doing something that, in technology terms, we are doing from the first moment that data bases came into existence and we started working with… with data. So, on a more technical level, it’s called (unclear) [12:01], it doesn’t matter, it’s just an acronym. But at the end, if you want to speak more on business terms, we are enabling companies to reclaim the data that they have in a form that can be used directly by people and stakeholders inside the company. So that it’s very easy to be used, it’s an infrastructure product in the sense that the whole company’s going to use it and it creates data inside the company without involving IT that much because IT has much more difficult and different kinds of tasks that they need to maintain inside the company. And we make sure that the company can trust their data and the people like a sale product manager or a marketing manager, anyone who today needs to delve into data to make decisions, they will have the data that they need at the right time and be sure that the data is correct and without errors. So, we’re reinventing in a way these ETL process because things have changed a lot in the industry, in the tech industry. Data is not that centralized and they are not owned that much in the same way, not that much in the same way that companies used to own them. Company data is actually spread over different applications, data base systems, all over the cloud, and even on hardware that is owned by the companies. And as data something like… like the blood or the oxygen for companies. This data to remain competitive and make decisions, even for instance, more informed decisions. These kind of solutions are becoming more and more important. And what is equally important is that products like Blendo allow the company to become let’s say data citizens, like they can get directly access to their data without having to need the support from IT or data engineers and other situations.

Joe: Do you help the companies like to consolidate all the data in just 1 data warehouse? Or you… do you just give it access to the different parties in charge to this the data that’s already there?

Kostas: Yeah. So, what we are doing back to the different sources that the company has lots, and keep in mind that these sources might be governed by different people inside the company, like a CRM for example, or a ticketing system, we are talking about competing with different teams and completely different ownership there. But there’s data there. And usually we have 2 different types of data. We have operational data, so we can ask information and get responses about how we’re doing with customer support, for example. Is these are space there for improvement? But also, there’s behavioral data about our customers. Because these applications at the end, they act more like touch points with the customers. So, we take this data, and as you do very well put it, we move this data into the data warehouse solution that the company’s using. And all this process from extracting, reshaping and loading consistently the data on those is fully automated by Blendo. So, we don’t own the data. We don’t want to keep the data. The companies consolidate the data in a way that gives them more ownership over the infrastructure that the data is hosted at and the technologies that they you want to use to… to analyze and create new data, new products, all these data.

Joe: So, my understanding would be that you also help like getting, for example, Salesforce, software as a service, any software as a service data in there, as well as internal systems and they then can like put together reports or analyzes reports or stuff like this, and they just press a button and have the right data.

Kostas: Yeah, exactly. So, one of the main use cases is reporting, which is still like very core problem for companies. But here, we are talking about let’s say reporting, but it’s probably more complete. So, someone from sales, for example,  can also leverage data that’s coming from an accounting system. So, they can see like more accurately what kind of actual value at the end is associated with the leads that they have. You can even create like a real customer journey from the moment that they started interacting with your brand through marketing with connecting the whole through sales and then how they interact with your products and (unclear) [17:44] customers and also interact generally after they become customers in general. Huge opportunities to do things with the data that the companies are generating, but the problem is, by outsource these activities outside the say that the company itself, it accelerates the company’s, but at the same time, it causes problems because the data becoming even more fragmented than the moral siloed inside different systems. And this is like the (unclear) [18:21] of the problem that we are solving by making it extremely easy and consistent to get this data and put them into the customer.

Joe: I understand; data, data, data. When you’ve been talking and while it took me a while to get back this recording to my camera, I was taking notes. And when you’ve been talking, I was curious, who is the main person who makes the decision to like buy the Blendo service? Is it more the CTO? Is it more the CMO? And how do you clients usually use you 2?

Kostas: So, different people making… actually there are, let’s say 2 main versions or personas or whatever term we want to use that we direct inside the company, okay? So, we see people that are coming from the data analytics departments, for example, stuff like data analytics is coming to us trying to get access to their data. Usually, it’s very narrow request at the beginning. So, for example, it’s like, “Okay, we need to make reports for our sales team. We’re using Salesforce. We need the data to do some custom reports that are not supposed to be to do inside Salesforce of this point.” Data analysts we look for this kind of data. And usually, (unclear) [20:08], but at the end, the decision might here might be someone from sales because that tool is used for their needs. Then we might continue the discussion and we can get like more people on boards from the company. And we see also other departments getting involved. Depending on the size of the company, I think the question actually it’s very strongly tied to also the size of the company. So, with smaller companies, we see like more executive people coming, like the CDO. Many times we see… we see people like COOs coming, CIOs in many… some cases. And then as the companies become bigger, we might see like the head of a team coming from a department like from sales and buying the solution.

I think that… and this is also part of the transformation that the industry is going through. So, in sales, we have roles like the CDO, the Chief Data Officer. Still things quite… still things are quite fluid. So… so, I think that we are still in charge of figuring out who should own like the data infrastructure of the company, which is the IT infrastructure of the company. So, until this happens, and I think it will take some time because we are still learning and we are still trying to figure out a right structure inside the company. We see people getting involved in this.

Joe: So many thoughts, so many questions. I was wondering, when you’ve been talking, owning like the data infrastructure, in your personal opinion, who should be the one in the company to own the data infrastructure?

Kostas: Well, I think that whole idea of having a CDO company, especially for more mature companies, it’s probably what is going to happen at the end. And there are different reasons behind these as that we are talking about quite complex infrastructure. Because if you think about it, in order to utilize the complete stack that needs to work together. So, you need things from like, storage solutions, retail solutions, to BI solutions, and all these things work together. And these are different… like someone needs to have like the complete overview of this, and I don’t think that I should do that. But it’s also there are other things around data that will get things more complicated. And I think that in the near future, we’ll see more things about compliance, security, privacy, things that probably come up is we need to take care from day 1. You’ve seen like what is happening with GDPR, and there are even more legislation going through both in Europe and in the States. So, all these things, I think it’s a very strong signal that anything that has to do with the data should be governed by a separate entity inside the company. It’s not the CIO that should do that and it’s not the IT department anymore. So, yeah, I think that this is like the what we’re going to see happening in the next couple of years probably, even earlier.

Joe: Really great. I do you have 2 more questions right now for you. At first, who is usually… how does your average customer, like the company look like? Are the certain industries you’re seeing more and more using your tool? And secondly, which other companies, like in a sales pitch, should have a look at your tool?

Kostas: To be honest… and I think this happens a lot I think with almost every infrastructure products, we’re pretty horizontal, although we try to focus more on companies that are more technologically mature and markets that are more logical and mature. But as also, Gartner says, In the near future, every company out there is going to be a technology company anyway. And I think they have a point, especially when it comes to data. Like, we’ve seen very traditional companies, especially coming from very traditional like markets, from like storage solutions into logistics and things like these, trying to leverage the data that they have from like marketing platforms, like how towards Facebook and similar other products. We’ve seen pharmaceutical companies. Of course, many technology companies that they are trying like to be data driven from day 1, B2C or companies. I would say that usually what happens is that B2B companies takes a little bit more for them generate enough data to justify having like an infrastructure for their data. B2C companies tend to have like a lot of data from early on, so they try to invest in these kind of technologies much earlier. But, yeah, I would like to… I wouldn’t like to say like specific industry, but I would suggest even if like a company at any stage, they don’t really consider building data stack at this point, I think they should start thinking about it. They will have more control over the data. They will need to deal with legislation sooner or later. Like, even if you go to a doctor, like, you know, just an appointment, you have to sign for GDPR at this point because they have like electronic health records there. So, data is everywhere. And I think that the sooner any company understands that they should utilize this data for them, and the more like ready they will be to compete in this new space and this new environment and space that is created where data will be used for almost everywhere and for many different reasons. And I’m not going to care about exotic… exotic like stuff like AI, machine learning and these things. But like even solving, reporting problems, it’s something that we see still being a big problem in companies of any size, from small companies to like, really, really large enterprises.

Joe: I would have one more question for you. You talking about small companies to very large enterprises. And when you’ve been talking, I was wondering, whom would you like to have as a customer? It doesn’t matter if it’s realistic or not. And first thing would come to mind is, would you like to have the CIA as a customer?

Kostas: I don’t think that I can have the CIA as a customer, to be honest. I think that they are dealing with data on like a little different perspective. I don’t think that we can work together. But I think Blendo as it is right now we are like… we prefer to work with more small and medium sized companies. The reason is that we are still an early company. So, it’s very helpful for us to be in… to build relationships with companies where things are more agile and the communication back and forth, it’s… there’s a lot more bandwidth there. So, we usually prefer this kind of companies in terms of size. But we try to be agnostic in general in terms of the industry. There are some industries that are more difficult to work like in finance, the finance sector, for example, or health sector, mainly because there’s many concerns there about the privacy, and we would like to be deliver something that always guarantees the safety of the data of the people who are involved, and we are talking about the customers of our customers here. We take this responsibility very high for ourselves. And so it’s a little bit more difficult to work there. And we also have bigger companies. Like, we even have like companies that are from Fortune 500 companies, but their things are different. Like, at the end, especially we’re working with teams in these companies, is like again working on smaller companies in some cases, the… the problems there are more about the sales process, the procurement process, and all the processes that these huge companies have because they are huge, like you cannot avoid. Yeah, like when you have like thousands of employees and departments and things like this, you need to have bureaucracy at the end, you cannot avoid that. So, yeah, we try to be more agile, which is also a result of our current state and where we are as a company. It’s not like we have a preference, like a personal preference or something like that.

Joe: I see. You’re a startup with Greek roots who’s actually international, and you don’t have any preference to work with any customers. It was such a pleasure having you here as a… as a interview partner, and wish you best of luck. Thank you very much.

Kostas: Thank you so much for having me here today. And it was a pleasure to be able to share a few things about our journey with Blendo. And hopefully, you’ll hear more about us in the near future.

Joe: Hopefully. Thank you very much. Bye bye.

Kostas: Bye-bye.

Outro: That’s all, folks. Find more news streams, events, and interviews at www.startuprad.io. Remember, sharing is caring.

By |2020-01-21T16:59:29+01:00October 17th, 2019|blog|0 Comments

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