In our regular series, our Community Manager Daisy interviews new arrivals at Sussex Innovation about their business, why they joined, and their plans for growth. Today she chats with Graham Spicer from Splash Business Intelligence.
First of all, tell me a bit about SplashBI…
The company is Splash Business Intelligence and the product is SplashBI. The product was developed 4 years ago now, it emanates from the US. Our parent company is in Atlanta; they’ve been running now for 18 years and they have an historical product called EiS Express. [EiS is] quite an old-fashioned reporting product that can only be used in a particular marketplace, SplashBI is the next generation of that. SplashBI is more than reporting - it’s reporting, visualisation, dashboards, analytics…it competes with products like Tableau. More importantly, where our original product had one market only, this can go anywhere. It connects to any data source, it can report against anything, it has an HTML front end, it has an Excel front end and you can use it for marketing, CRM, anything like that. It’s quite a panoramic approach to business intelligence... a platform as opposed to a product.
You don’t have a typical user then?
No. Our smallest company is an IT network services provider and they’ve got just 5 users using it for reporting against HR (that’s in the UK). Our biggest customer in the US is Macy’s the department store and it’s used by 8000 people across the entire enterprise for reporting and visualisation against every aspect of their business. They bring data from their tills, data from HR, data from everywhere and report in one go.
What’s your role within the company?
My role is sales director. I’ve been doing business intelligence for 38 years now, almost as long as it’s been invented! I ran my own business from ’83 to 2012 and EiS were a bit of a competitor (not that much because they specialised in the reporting side and we did other more generic business intelligence type developments). I left my own company for a number of reasons and was approached by the owners of SplashBI who said: “Look, we’ve got this product we want to launch at some point, what do you think?”
It all went very quiet for a couple of years then we met in San Francisco at a trade show. I guess for all the years I’d been doing BI up until then I’d been looking for Nirvana, the perfect product that would do everything I thought could ever be done…they showed me SplashBI and I was like: “wow, somebody’s actually developed it!” I was working somewhere else and Navine, the owner of the company, [said he’d buy me out of the contract]. I left the other company on the 4th December and we launched [SplashBI] on the 5th of December. We had 4 customers in the UK and Europe at that time, we’re now up to 19. That was December 2015 that we launched. In June 2016 we formed the UK company of which I’m a director. We haven’t looked back, it’s been really good. Then we moved in here on the 18th February [this year].
I know that you’ve known of Sussex Innovation Centre for a long time, why did you decide to move in now?
A couple of reasons…I know Morgan of CDO Partners, I know him really well, he used to work for me. He was talking to me about moving office and he said: “You need to come to Sussex Innovation Centre”. We were trading out of a purpose built office in my back garden because at the time it was just me, my wife and Helen [who does telephone sales from home]. Obviously a lot of people would come over from the States but to make the product work properly and to support our customers properly we needed to get people from India, where our product development support centre is. So, since September of last year we’ve been applying for the Visa process. One of the things that was counting against us what that our office address was a home address and not a proper office.
Also, I’ve known Mike Herd for a long long time, though there were very many years between when we first met and when we subsequently met. The very first meeting of the group of people [discussing the formation of Sussex Innovation Centre 22 years ago] was actually held in our boardroom down at Old Steine. I’m a fatalist. I think that there are people in life that you are going to meet whatever happens…I think it was meant to be.
How many employees do you have?
The group employs 260 to 270 people, about 50 of those are in the US. We have a head office in Atlanta, a marketing and sales hub in Dallas and then we also have people spread coast to coast. In India we have about 220 people, the company is actually owned by 2 Indian families. The UK company will be 7 strong.
Have you thought about how you're going to engage with Sussex Innovation?
Yes…We do a lot of marketing events, we spent a fortune on marketing last year. Nearly 70% of our revenue [went] on marketing because we want to get the business growing quickly. [However] there comes a problem if there’s two events running simultaneously. Face-to-face exhibitions seem to be growing again big time, so we spoke to Simon and Lucy about using [the Catalyst Team] and taking them to our stands at events, things like that would be really good for us.
What I like about this is [place is] all the emails, and the HootBoard. There’s a lot going on, which is really really good and I think it will be important for the people who work for me here in the UK to get involved in those sort of things.
What does the future hold for Splash Business Intelligence?
We have a target. I’m 60 now, so when Navine and I met we talked about what I wanted to achieve before I retired and when I wanted to retire (which won’t be until I’m 70). Then we talked about what he wanted to achieve. We have a target that by 2026, 8 years from now, we'll have a business that’s turning over £25 million a year. Our product is…what’s called self-service… and it’s sold on a subscription basis so if I do a £1 million this year that’s a guaranteed £1 million for next year and the year after so getting up to £25 million shouldn’t be that difficult, he says! That’s the target.