Open Data Now - the DueDil view

27 January 2014 DueDil Team

In his agenda-setting new book, Open Data Now, Joel Gurin (former chair of the White House task force on smart disclosure), describes the transformational potential of Open Data (reckoned by McKinsey to be have an annual economic value worldwide of $3trn).

In the book, Gurin describes his visit to DueDil. We thought you’d be interested in what he discovered:

In the United Kingdom, a startup called DueDil – derived from “due diligence” but pronounced “doodle” – is building an ambitious database and website to help businesses on the other side of the Atlantic. By providing in-depth analysis of British and Irish corporations, DueDil hopes to spur investment. The company’s goal is to give lenders the information they need to invest in small and medium-size companies with confidence.

I caught up with DueDil’s top executives in their London office, where their growth pains were apparent. Rows of busy programmers took up most of the available conference space; we had to go to a nearby Pret a Manger sandwich shop to talk. At the time, in April 2013, DueDil had just recently received a new round of funding and was planning to move to larger digs.

Damian Kimmelman, the company’s CEO, explained what had driven him to launch DueDil in 2011. “Our goal has always been to grow transparency for private businesses because they make up such an overwhelming part of the economy,” he said. “The data is siloed; it’s siloed in businesses, it’s siloed in providers, it’s siloed in government agencies, it’s siloed on the web. We think by bringing these silos together and linking them, we can create a huge amount of value for the small to medium-size enterprises [SMEs}.” The business case is simple and compelling: data will give potential partners and investors enough confidence in these SMEs to work with them and help them grow. “Transparency leads to trust, and business is built on trust,” says Kimmelman.

DueDil has calculated the potential financial benefit of transparency, and it’s high. “A number of very strong, healthy businesses don’t receive funding because they don’t have relationships with financial institutions, or because they don’t have the level of transparency that those financial institutions require in order to make that lending decision,” said Justin Fitzpatrick, DueDil’s chief operating officer. “What you end up with a shortfall of somewhere in the neighbourhood of $250 billion across Europe.” That estimate doesn’t even take into account the cost in lost opportunities and productivity when businesses don’t have the information to work together effectively. “This data has the potential to become a force multiplier for these businesses,” said Fitzpatrick.

Much of DueDil is built on Open Data, like data from Companies House, the United Kingdom’s central corporate registry, although the company also uses some proprietary data sources. “We love all types of data,” says Kimmelman. Like other Open Data-driven companies, DueDil adds value through its analysis and functionality rather than by having exclusive rights to any dataset. In addition to analysing data, DueDil serves as a platform where SMEs can provide information about themselves, look for potential business partners, and develop the groundwork for productive deals. For this business community, data is the gateway to collaboration…

Private companies don’t have the same reporting requirements as public ones, of course, but they’re still subject to scrutiny. The principals of DueDil argue that insufficient data has made it hard for investors to trust these companies and has kept away hundreds of billions of dollars in potential investment. If you’re running a British or Irish company, check to see how your DueDil profile comes across; it’s the persona you’re showing to an increasing number of potential investors.

The book will be available in the UK in late February but is available on Kindle now. You can get your own copy at Amazon.co.uk. You can also read Joel’s coverage of the Open Data movement at www.OpenDataNow.com and follow him on Twitter @joelgurin.