Is big data the 'oil of the 21st Century'?
Alan Daitch co-founded Digodat in Buenos Aires in 2015. Five years later, Digodat was acquired by S4 Capital in London. It has been quite a journey and Alan tells ConnectARUK how it all happened…
How did it all start? Why big data?
It all started in high school. Since I created my first website in 2003 when I was 14 years old, I always liked trying to understand users' behaviour and maths. Back then, the tools that were available weren't as sophisticated as the ones we have today, and I was more focused around satisfying my curiosity than trying to find a business model.When I finished studying, Alexis Caporale, a friend of mine and an awesome entrepreneur, called me one day and told me he had just raised seed money to professionalise his company. He wanted me to join the team, and the offer was clear: free lunches plus the opportunity to be trained by some of the best mentors in the country about Digital Marketing. I didn't think it twice and I started to understand how some of the largest companies in the continent approached this (back then, new) discipline. The company, which was called Bixti, was a big success and it got acquired by its competitor from Brazil within less than two years. In the meantime, Google named me as a Top Contributor in their Global Advertiser Community, becoming one of the 3 Latin American experts to get this top range, and starting to participate as a speaker in Google events throughout the region and getting invited to the Top Contributor Summit in California. By combining these different experiences, I realised there was a big gap between traditional marketing agencies and today's marketing needs: it was called "big data" and it was meant to be named as "the oil of 2020". Companies were starting to spend big budgets in building teams and advertising for their digital products but they didn't have the right capabilities for really understanding how their efforts performed and where their opportunities for improvement were. These pains needed a team with strong technical background, as well as expertise in data analysis. Agencies were only strong in providing communication and creativity skill sets. So I called three of my friends who were studying Computer Science, along with some of my background in Economics and Digital Marketing, and together we founded Digodat in 2015, with the focus of providing expert consultancy on digital analytics and big data, without trying to compete in the already existing markets: we wanted to add value on something new. While during the first years two of the 4 founders left to pursue different goals in their lives around genetics and social challenges, Mauro Giordano (my actual partner and CTO, the most-experienced Data Engineer in the continent right now) and I continued the challenge that has now positioned us as the leading Analytics company in Latin America, headquartered in Buenos Aires and with local presence in Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
You are now expanding to the UK, thanks to an alliance with S4 Capital... tells us a bit about this international expansion.
Today, data is at the heart of every great digital strategy. We have an awesome team for solving this. However, you need more than a heart: you need a head, some arms, two feet... And it's not easy to coordinate all of these parts if they are part of different companies. That's why we were amazed when we were approached by S4 and got to know more about this awesome project meant to unite the best data, creativity and media teams in the world to build 100% digital unified solutions for today's challenges. At S4, you have some of the best-in-world talent like Mightyhive's leading media and programmatic leaders in the US and Europe, as well as MediaMonks, an Amsterdam-based company which in my opinion have the best creative and digital transformation teams. The strategic decision to team up with them will allow us to challenge ourselves, expanding our menu of services in Latin America, as well as be part of global projects, boosting the Buenos Aires office and getting it ready for playing in the major leagues.
Image: virtual celebration. The Digodat team and Sir Martin Sorrell (S4 Capital) raise a glass to a new & exciting collaboration.
What are the biggest challenges of trying to enter a new market?
Both Digodat and S4 have always looked for the largest brands. It's hard to start working with them if you're just a new company, and that creates a chicken-egg problem in which nobody may hire you because you don't have experience, and you don't have it because nobody hires you. Lucky for us, S4 already has 24 offices across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific. We now have a best-in-class footprint in places like South Korea, Jakarta, Mumbai, London and Montréal. The second biggest challenge is to be able to provide the same quality of service, no matter the office. COVID-19 has somehow accelerated this global process of unifying efforts, no matter the location of every S4 person.
On a personal note, why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Now
that you have some experience under your belt, what would you tell other entrepreneurs at an earlier stage?
I always wanted to do my own thing. I've never understood the traditional boss-employee relationship and I suck at it. I tend to get bored easily and subsequently change focus. This isn't something easy to do when you enter a traditional company and they expect you to specialise and only focus on a subset of tasks. So, the startup world was something more meant to someone who one day may want to learn about analytics, another about management, billing, growth, regionalisation, data science, office administration and so on. Changing focus doesn't mean losing persistence, and there's a big portion of entrepreneurship that's not fancy and only means doing what has to be done in every moment. I would tell entrepreneurs that persistence and the ability to change is everything. Share your idea and your project with all the people you can. Gather feedback. The idea has no value: 100% of it is in the execution. And don't do it just for the money, because you can't be sure you'll get it: time is the most precious asset we have. Do something you love, and find a way to make it profitable: if you can, you'll enjoy entrepreneurship. And try to do something that makes the world a better place. And that ALWAYS starts by making your company a better place for your team.