Innovation Spotlight: Get the Most Insight From Your Data With Komodo Tech
Welcome to the Innovation Spotlight series for the DCD Blog, where we interview some of the newest and most creative companies popping up in the Boston area. If you would like to be featured in our series, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Company: Komodo Tech
Interviewee: Lu Wang, Founder and Project Manager
Confession time. For a company called Deep Core Data, we aren’t actually beholden to just data services. Our main focus is more on helping companies find solutions to their technical problems, like designing custom automation software to help companies streamline their business operations. But if you’re looking for data nerds who will dive hardcore into your treasure troves of information, our friends over at Komodo Tech have you covered.
“Most companies treat data in an operational way,” says Lu Wang, Komodo Tech’s founder and project manager. “It’s not really incorporated into the business strategy.”
Lu Wang, Komodo Tech’s Founder and Project Manager
This means that many companies regard customer data in a very utilitarian fashion; it’s all collected simply so that they can fulfill orders, bill customers, or perform other operations-based tasks. Because of this, many businesses aren’t getting the most value out of their piles of data due to a lack of tools and expertise. Komodo Tech takes this data, sorts it out, and finds ways that companies can use their customer information strategically, whether that’s by building sales strategies around different audiences, or finding other ways companies can shift their marketing and sales strategies based on the insights they already have available to them (even if they don’t know it yet).
Komodo Tech’s big mission is to help companies who are sitting on a lot of data, by extracting useful and actionable information that’s hiding within. At Komodo Tech, they’re almost always solving problems because some enterprising individual has noticed a pain point in human beings’ experiences and want to solve it. Furthermore, they know the answer lies somewhere but they’ve yet to figure out exactly where.
In fact, Komodo Tech started when a friend of Wang’s had some projects they needed to get off the ground, but just didn’t have the technical know-how to get started. When they asked for contractors, Wang figured that she could do it herself, but she didn’t want to work as an independent contractor. Instead, she decided to acquire a partner and found Komodo Tech.
“My MO is very much practicality and finding out how to do something with the best efficiency,” she says. This straight-forward thinking is not only what drove her to start Komodo Tech, but is also part of how she approaches projects and finds solutions for her clients.
Right now, Komodo Tech works heavily with sales and marketing departments, but they are also looking to branch out into other areas. Wang believes that healthcare is one of the biggest market opportunities for this approach to data. In fact, breaking into the healthcare industry is one of the most important things she’s working on right now.
One of her clients is a new startup in Boston that’s trying to change how ordinary people price their healthcare. Right now if you want to see a doctor, it’s hard to know how much you’re going to end up paying at the end of the day and it’s difficult to get a good idea of how one provider compares to the other.
However, in Massachusetts there’s a new law that makes some of this information publicly available for purchase. The way Komodo Tech is helping this startup is by getting that data, merging it with information from insurance companies, and using machine learning to send out much more accurate price estimates across locations. Basically, they’re taking some of the “healthcare-iness” out of healthcare. The idea is to make it easier for people to see a doctor, instead of giving up because it’s too difficult to price out.
She also thinks that data security is another industry that could benefit from Komodo Tech’s services because it has a lot of innovation and the old way is quickly becoming insufficient. People are needed who not only have technical expertise, but who are also willing to look at a current “safe” setup and see if there’s a better way to do things.
When it comes to tech consultancies, Wang noticed that many have a very narrow set of expertise. Instead of trying to learn something new, they lean heavily on their DevOps and webstack people. While she feels that there’s nothing wrong with these tech consultants because they serve the mom and pop shops that need a quick website, her team is different.
“I think everyone on my team is fantastically curious and looking to learn new things,” she says. “We are really complicated problem solvers. We will spend months doing weird things like counting cars on the street if that’s what we need to do. We don’t have any problem jumping in and getting our hands dirty in any industry.”
Although Wang enjoys the widespread challenges that come with being a professional problem solver, she’s still picky about who she works with. She wants Komodo Tech to be supportive and explicit about how they can help people doing great things, and she makes sure to support companies she believes in.
Often times, smaller companies often get the short end of the stick when it comes to hiring, and contractors take advantage of them. As such, it’s very important to Wang that she runs an ethical company. She considers it a point of pride when her clients say “You don’t talk to us the same way our other vendors do.” Wang and the Komodo team ensure that they have honest conversations with clients, solve actual problems, and move forward, rather than try to squeeze as much value from someone as they can. She feels that people should be able to do what’s right and be themselves without being embarrassed about it.
This open, honest approach isn’t just limited to her clients. She feels that these days, people live in a bubble where self worth is tied to what we’re paid. Because of this, she makes sure that she is very transparent about who gets paid what and why, and how they contribute to the company. She wants people to get involved in the company and feel good about their position. Her goal is to foster a humble, honest, transparent learning environment, where they can take their skills and mindset to any other companies they may go to in the future.
To help cultivate those skills, they take education quite seriously at Komodo Tech. Recently, work experience has been seen as more valuable than education in many hiring departments, but Wang recognises that there many great programs around where talented, capable people can learn and develop their skills. For Wang, the ability to sit in a class for 3 months, understand a concept in depth, and produce something at the end of a semester is just as important experience with real world projects.
In fact, it is her opinion that this kind of graduate work is very similar to how the team at Komodo Tech does a lot of their projects. For them, school and work experience is a very potent combination. It’s important to her that her team has a strong academic background, but is also open-minded enough to find new ways to learn and apply skills for real-world projects. The best way for graduates to gain work experience is to get hired, and she does her best to inspire and speak to the values of her teammates in order to help foster their current positive traits (like always wanting to contribute to the team).
While many companies are always trying to expand and grow their business, Wang would simply be happy to have a solid, stable local business. This is because it’s hard to scale a consultancy; the bigger you get, the less consistent service becomes. As long as Wang works with Komodo Tech, she’s preferring to keep it smaller and local. When it comes to bigger ambitions, she has another company called StatusQuota to keep her reaching farther. Komodo Tech is there to satisfy her desire to service a local community in a hands-on way.
StatusQuota, for those who are curious, is a project Wang started with her partner, Remen Okoruwa, created to bring a little more technical expertise into the marketing and sales industry. Right now, there are over 5,000 companies that try to sell SaaS solutions in the Greater Boston Area, but at the end of the day all of these tools just do one thing well. You have to string them all together into an endless mosaic of people trying to sell you tools that will integrate with all your existing platforms.
Wang’s goal is to get back to basics. It does not matter what tools you have, there is data in the database somewhere. Every now and then, a comprehensive report will need to be prepared for C-level employees, which isn’t as easy as getting information out of the sales funnel. More importantly, they’ll want some interpretation and insight based on the results. In these cases, the strict numbers are less important than the actual trends and distributions to different markets, and the team at StatusQuota only touches the computers to get the data needed. The rest is pure human analytics.
In the end, big data is one of the high profile IT buzzwords right now, but that doesn’t make it just some fancy phrase that sounds cool. Komodo Tech is dedicated making sure small companies and local start-ups get the tools and data they need to be a part of the big data revolution.