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Monday 25 September 2017

AskAnAngel Interviews Pivigo's New CRO, Adam Baker

AAA: Thanks for joining us today, Adam. I wanted just to start our interview, really, by giving listeners who aren't familiar with Pivigo a kind of elevator description. How would you describe Pivigo as a company, or the business model of the company?

Adam Baker: Pivigo is a marketplace that connects exceptional data science talent with companies that are looking for, not just for data science, but have projects and are looking for ways in which they can translate their data into tangible business outcomes. So, for example, we can work with entities, to predict their varying end-client balances, for example. This can help them manage their cash flow. So, lots of tangible business cases;that's what Pivigo does.

AAA: Your title within Pivigo is Chief Revenue Officer. I was quite interested in that. Do you see more instances of that job title, or is that really a little bit of a one off? Or is that something particularly that's happening, perhaps, for early-stage businesses, where some of the roles are slightly hybridised, if that's not unfair? And I was just wondering how that fitted in or how that might differ from a head of sales or a CFO-type role. So, just to get a sense of what your mandate is, I guess, commercially?

Adam Baker: 
Yeah, the CRO role is becoming ever more prevalent. And particularly with mid to late stage start-up companies, the role, requires more than just a head of sales force, it requires a very kind of strategic role. And the ability to be able to look at how you go product to then, obviously, monetize it. And it involves lots of discussions about scale and ... It's more than just about sales itself. But ultimately, obviously, it's about revenue and how we can build revenue.

AAA:,As now part of a company that's one of the better known data science groups and obviously involved with applying artificial intelligence or machine learning to commercial channels, what are some of the most interesting or most exciting trends, I suppose, or developments that you're seeing right now in data science or AI. If maybe you could just name two or three that you're seeing, particularly in the UK?

Adam Baker: 
Sure... AI's a bit of a buzz at the moment, it's kind of a buzzword. I think data science is the more interesting term, and I think that we're seeing ... Sorry, as a data science company we're seeing more prediction analysts move to the cloud, for example, as customers realise that they've got lots of data they can process and they're doing some very complex data-mining. They need to move to the cloud, because it's, obviously it's quicker, and.. way more cost-efficient. And for example, if a company's using Hadoop, it's a great way of being on the cloud and clearly helps with that, because you're processing huge volumes of data, be it structured or unstructured.
The other kind of, I think, really interesting thing at that stage at the moment is security. And so, as more companies think about data and more companies generate it.. it goes into the cloud, and you've then got to think about security and cyber-security and so, a lot of companies, are building their own deep learning algorithms to detect anomalies in the data to be able to, obviously, predict fraud and such like. So, I think that's very interesting.

Adam Baker: 
And obviously, Elon Musk is about to launch Tesla's first self-driving car, and so I think that's super interesting. And apparently it can now drive west to east coast across the US, unaided. But, to think, AI in that respect, where it's really making transformation in everyday life that could potentially lead to more self-driving cars than human-driving cars, obviously, it's a very interesting time.

AAA: And moving a little bit from the states to nearer to home, are you optimistic about London as a continuing growth point for tech, both within Europe and globally, given some of the changes that are going on in the UK? I won't use the B word, but are you optimistic about the future for early stage business here and for angel investing?

Adam Baker: 
Yes, absolutely. I think that there was some uncertainty, there still is uncertainty, but the initial period of real uncertainty, I think, has passed and we're still seeing the emergence of some great companies coming into the market. There's still lots of opportunities, it's just the very nature of technology means that there's always iteration; there are always market opportunities. And London is a fantastic city for that. It's not only got really, really good and world class support from the government to help entrepreneurs and to facilitate those connections and business growth, but it's also got, now, lots of experienced entrepreneurs that have started companies, have built companies and either failed or succeeded and that brings an extraordinary amount of experience and knowhow into the city and into the UK itself.
And then there's, obviously, money. And again, what we're seeing is we're seeing entrepreneurs that maybe founded companies 15, 10 years ago, that have got some excess ... That have now become high net worth themselves and are investing back into the ecosystem, which means that there's increasingly more angel money in the UK than there ever has been. I think that it's probably not as easy to raise money anymore and I think that the economy and the uncertainty around moving out of Europe doesn't help with that, but I think also it's more competitive.

What you've seen is the emergence of a really thriving tech community in the UK, particularly in London, which has brought lots of entrepreneurs to the UK, not just from ... And within London, which is great, and there's obviously a lot more competition for money. So, I think all those things factored in, it's probably not as easy to raise money as it used to be, but look, if you've got a great business and you've got a great team and you're in a good market, you'll raise money. There's definitely money there, the market's thriving, the support network is bigger and better, I think, than it ever has been, so I'm very encouraged by that.

AAA: That's certainly very true. I see a lot of bridges between entrepreneurs and angel investing. They're not segregated; people who have made money come back and put their money back into the start-up ecosphere and I certainly see that in the syndicates to which I'm a part.
So, I just have one last question, really, for you, Adam. I think in the sense of your own strategy going forward, I wondered ... We sometimes hear a lot of discussion about the potential for social media to facilitate growth and scale and the use of content marketing explaining the mission of the business. What kind of contribution do you see that making to Pivigo's progress in the next couple of years? Because Pivigo's kind of a couple of years in. So, do you see a role for that type of marketing or content marketing in the next couple of years for you?

Adam Baker:       
I think that most companies today are trying to become publishers and promote themselves as well on social media, it gives them the platform. And certainly distribute the content that they create. So, certainly, social for us is really important. We run some data science programmes, where, essentially, we train ... Essentially, we take PhDs that have just graduated and we connect them with the companies that have projects and, over a five week period, give them real life experience of working on a real challenge and the programme that we run once a year in London and twice a year virtually, and we use social media to be able to attract and engage with PhDs, and also businesses as well. I think social media is really important for us. As it is for most businesses.

AAA: Adam, I want to thank you very much indeed for your time right now, at what is obviously a very busy time for you so recently joining Pivigo. So, thanks to you and for your time in sharing your insights.

Adam Baker:   My pleasure. Thanks, Mike, good talking to you.

AAA: This is Mike Davis, signing off for today. Please sign up at for more content like this direct to your inbox, direct from early stage business and from the world of angel investing.

[Disclosure: the interviewer is an Angel Investor in Pivigo]