Numbers Matter — Don’t Overlook Them
Numbers have stood the test of time and should not be overlooked. We live in a world where numbers help us make important decisions from profit and loss to predicting growth and sustainability. With so many numbers coming every which way, they collect and create large pools of data. Luckily, there are organizations that can help us navigate these for those that may become overwhelmed by so many numbers.
We got the chance to meet up with Lewis from the Liberty Village based startup called ThinkData. They are “…changing the way we interact with external data”. He answers some questions on why he loves the startup world.
Q: What have some of the challenges been as a startup?
A: One of ThinkData’s cofounders, Bryan Smith, reminded me recently that the definition of a startup is, to him, a group of people who are trying to solve a problem with limited resources. For us, making external data available to businesses is a constantly evolving problem, but if it was easy someone would have done it by now. One of the challenges is not only developing an infrastructure that supports external data but also educating people on how valuable the resource actually is.
Q: What are some of the successes been as a startup?
A: Measuring success as a startup can be difficult, but I’m personally very proud of ThinkData’s platform, Namara, which is solving the problem of external data access. Breaking down the silos that separate data sources, standardizing tons of data, and just generally making it easy to use is no small feat. We were also fortunate enough to have been selected by the C100 as one of 20 companies that participated in their 48 hours in the Valley program, and in 2015 we were recognized by the Canadian Innovation Exchange as one of that years hottest companies. But really any startup that’s been around for a couple of years and has clients who are happy should consider themselves incredibly successful.
Q: Name some of the most useful resources that any startup should tap into?
A: Toronto has become a really fertile breeding ground for startups. There are a few reasons for that, but I think that there’s been a really important focus on tech development in recent years and without them things would be a lot more difficult. We work very closely with MaRS and they’re doing great work. It’s also important to introduce yourself to other businesses in your community through a BIA network. Having a beer with someone sometimes turns into an amazing partnership opportunity.
Q: How could a startup of any size use data in their business development?
A: I don’t come from a data background, so I’m very sympathetic to the reality that when a lot of people hear “data” their eyes start to glaze over. Most businesses are already using data in their decisions, even if they’re not really aware that they’re doing so. But if you’re only using your own data, you’re really only seeing one piece of a much larger picture. Increasingly, external sources of data are the secret sauce that any company of any size can use to vault themselves to the next level of development. It’s really just a matter of starting with something small and seeing how it works for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all data, but there’s definitely data for everyone.
For the curious minds out there — Statistics Canada is releasing the 2016 Census data in phases throughout the year. ThinkData can certainly help your startup or organization mine the numbers that are meaningful to your business. See below for the release dates of data as per the Statistics Canada website:
- February 8th, 2017 — Population and dwelling counts
- May 3rd, 2017 — Age and sex, Type of dwelling
- August 2nd, 2017 — Families, households and marital status, Language
- September 13th, 2017 — Income
- October 25th, 2017 — Immigration and ethnocultural diversity, Housing, Aboriginal peoples
- November 29th — Education, Labour, Journey to work, Language of work, Mobility and migration