Martina King, CEO at Featurespace
Known locally as the new Autonomy and with Mike Lynch on the board, Featurespace was founded in 2005. Its technology allows companies to optimise the vast amounts of data flowing through their systems.
Featurespace allows organisations to gain retrospective and predictive insight from their data – insight that could deliver significant cost savings, efficiency gains, increased revenues and competitive advantage. Following the award of an extended contract with Betfair, Featurespace is now helping the UK credit reference agency, Callcredit. They are just two of a string of new contracts won by the business since ex-Aurasma chief executive Martina King became CEO.
1. Why were you attracted to leave HP Aurasma to join Featurespace?There is nothing more professionally invigorating than making a positive difference to a company and there’s nowhere more exposed than a startup. When Mike Lynch confirms that a technology is a game changer, the rest is all about delivery and it doesn’t get much more exciting than that.
2. How would you assess the strength of Featurespace’s technology?Professor Bill Fitzgerald and Dave Excell made a truly brilliant discovery; the ability to read human intention through data and adapt our understanding automatically is a process applicable to every organisation with customers and data – that’s quite a lot of opportunity!
3. What was the strategy for growth when you’d assimilated yourself with the business?A technology breakthrough needs an exceptional leadership team, with a priority on building sales. Matt Mills joined as our commercial director with a mission to grow Featurespace globally, followed by Mike Tipping whose role is to keep developing the technology. Our latest addition to the leadership team is our director of engineering, Simon Rogers.
Winning new business in new sectors and promoting those wins is our lifeblood; it builds momentum and provides energy for the whole team. We are now working across our heartland sector of the gaming industry and added financial services, insurance and retail to our list. A modern global business doesn’t mean opening offices all over the world; clever partnerships can supercharge growth, which has been another area of focus.
A successful business needs to retain and delight customers by exceeding delivery expectations; finally we have worked to build our name in our priority sectors.
4. Has headcount and turnover grown appreciably in recent times?We took headcount down to a minimum across the business but invested in sales. It paid off as we won a number of large contracts. We now have a lot to build over the coming months and we are looking for software engineers and data scientists to join our talented team.
5. Are you targeting any fresh markets for the technology? One of our biggest challenges is to know where to point our resource – there are so many options. Having worked out which sectors are ready for us we are going to focus on gaming, financial services, insurance and retail.
6. How is the company funded?The company has a glittering array of investors who have supported Featurespace through the early days and we are hugely appreciative of their investment which comes in the form of cash and advice. Our organic growth is adding to our cashflow.
7. Would you see a requirement to seek additional capital externally?We are in the process of closing a round right now.
8. What does it mean to the business to have the backing of Mike Lynch?Mike Lynch has the Midas touch; it means that Featurespace is destined to hit gold! 44 per cent of global inventions come from the UK. Few of those inventors have exploited those assets on a global stage. Mike Lynch has done both. His experience, intellect, contacts, vision, ambition and sense of humour make him a rare and exceptional talent and we are fortunate to have his involvement.
9. How important is Cambridge to the ongoing success of Featurespace?Essential. Our intellectual capital is our differentiator. Our customers know they are associated with cutting edge technology built by the best brains in the world. There’s nowhere better for our research and development and delivery teams to be.
10. Does Featurespace plan to open operations anywhere else globally?Our sales office is in London. We have customers in North America, Europe, the Far and Middle East and Australia – without having to physically open offices in other countries. Our partners have offices all over the world so we plan to share their networks to grow Featurespace quickly.