“Quit your job and start a startup!”, the kickstart story of Amsterdam-based ScaiData, a real-time data analytics platform

Alexandra and Andrei, the founders of Amsterdam-based ScaiData, a real-time business intelligence & analytics platform

Alexandra started ScaiData after she worked at KPMG as an IT consultant, where she was doing data analytics engagements for large corporations. Those engagements sometimes consumed a lot of time and involved manual work in Excel. Now, the platform she has co-created with Andrei Costea generates reports in real time, with everything being accessed by their customers while they drink coffee. And it all begun when, while at an event Alexandra was participating, Oscar Kneppers, founder of Rockstart, asked on the stage: “if you are so smart, and you have a brilliant idea, why don’t you quit your job and start a startup?“.

While she quit her job at KPMG, and started ScaiData, Alexandra has collaborated with her former colleagues to continuously improve the new platform she created. With the feedback from KPMG, she and her co-founder implemented some new features that lets users join data quickly through the UI without needing to code anymore, putting together the relevant reports in real time.

On a tour of exploring the Amsterdam startup ecosystem, I’ve met and spoken with Alexandra about their journey as a startup, since they founded it in 2017.

Talking with Alexandra, while ScaiData platform is displaying a dashboard

Who are you and what does your startup do?

My name is Alexandra Alan, I’m the CEO and co-founder of ScaiData. As the name says it, it’s a platform for data analytics and automation that lets users access their data and reports in real time and to extract quick insights out of it. 

You told me you’ve previously worked for KPMG …

Yes, I did and there I got the inspiration for ScaiData. I used to work as a data analytics consultant, within the Risk Management department of KPMG, where I was involved in data analytics engagements. While extracting reports for our clients, I was doing time consuming work for each client engagement. Thus, I observed this pattern and I thought about finding a way to automate this sort of work, while giving management a transparent overview.

I realized that it would be great if there was a platform, which would let users generate the final reports in Excel and send them to the clients with a couple of clicks. For that, users would need to be able to create reports in real time without too much effort, as well as to visualize the data and to let anyone in the organization access it, if needed.

What determined you to start you own company?

So, I actually participated at an event, where Oscar Kneppers, founder of Rockstart said: “if you are so smart, and you have a brilliant idea, why don’t you quit your job and start a startup?”. I got super excited about this. Plus, I also had an idea in my mind of this real-time data analytics platform. After some time, I thought I should give it a try and found my own startup with Andrei.

OK, that’s cool. So who are the founders? What’s your background?

I have a background in applied mathematics and computer science. I came to Amsterdam, seven years ago, as a student at the VU University (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), where I studied Business Mathematics and Informatics, and afterwards I got a job at KPMG. Initially, I did my internship within the Big Data and Analytics department. Afterwards, I moved to Risk Management and started working as a consultant for data analytics engagements.

Alexandra and Andrei, the founders of Amsterdam-based ScaiData

My co-founder, Andrei Costea, has a background in high performance distributed computing. He also studied at VU University (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). He was one of the lead engineers behind one of the fastest databases in the world. He worked at Twitter as a software engineer, as well. He is really passionate about building intelligent systems that are high performance.

You are incorporated in Amsterdam, can you tell me about your experience with the entrepreneurial ecosystem here?

I think one of the great thing of Amsterdam and the Netherlands is the fact that it’s quite similar to Silicon Valley, but it is still in Europe. It’s also one of the best places in Europe to actually build your own startup. That was also one of the main reasons why we started our company here, because it’s quite an organized ecosystem, in a great location and it is cost efficient. It also helped us a lot with the administrative part of building a business.

What are the benefits of having a startup in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands?

For us, it was a good place to start our own company because we managed to incorporate the company in a single day. We could also benefit a lot from tax deductions from the Dutch government. This helps a lot of startups or people who want to found a startup.

Tell me more about ScaiData, what problems does it solve, what type of clients do you target

Our software helps companies that need to extract quick insights and centralize reporting from multiple databases or data warehouses without having too much hassle. By having a centralized analytics platform, companies can make decisions faster, become data-driven and more transparent. The users do not necessarily need to be technical people, but also consumers of information and insights. At the same time, we also help companies that perform a lot of manual data reporting work, which is done in a repetitive manner, for example, either daily, monthly, or weekly. This sort of work can be automated. 

A report generated by ScaiData

For one of our customers, we reduced the workload from week to minutes. We’ve automated about 13 financial, sales, marketing, and production reports, which used to take so much time to be created. Now, these reports are completely ready (all data, fonts, formulas, logo’s) and can be accessed in maximum 10 minutes, while they drink coffee and maybe check Facebook at the same time. People do not need to depend on anyone else to get the reports from, for example a business analyst. Thus, no more waiting, no more copy pasting, and no more manual mistakes.

Can you give me some examples of verticals who would most benefit from your platform?

The verticals that would benefit from using our platform are companies that need to make fast data-driven decisions, such as consulting companies specialized in data analytics, web digital agencies, gaming companies, fintech companies, or scale-ups that have a large amount of data stored in a data warehouse and they need an easy to use, cost-efficient analytics platform. 

You said KPMG tested your platform, can you tell me more about this?

Yes, one of the data analytics departments from KPMG headquarters has tested our product and we received a really nice feedback from them. A technical data analytics manager said that he was positively impressed how fast ScaiData platform was for extracting data insights, querying data and creating dashboards quickly, even though Scai was located remotely.

And how do you plan to develop the platform further?

We’ve obtained this really nice feedback from them and they also provided some valuable suggestions. Therefore, we have also implemented some new features that let users join data fast through the UI without needing to code anymore. This is done in a very efficient manner and it helps users spend significantly less time coding and put together the relevant reports with a couple of clicks.

How are you targeting your customers?

We are targeting our customers, either in the cloud or on premises. We are present on all three major cloud providers such as Google Cloud, Amazon AWS and also Microsoft Azure. At the same time, we also have customers that use ScaiData on their premises. Users can get started in 2 minutes with it. They have all they need to create their dashboards and reports in a couple of minutes. ScaiData does not require any data loading, importing and it does not lock-in with proprietary formats.

What are your plans now, what are you’re looking for in terms of team or maybe financing?

Our goal is to become one of the most important analytics & automation platform in the cloud and to scale. We know that we have built a great software platform with little resources and we have some new exciting ideas for the future. However, we know that we cannot do it on our own. Therefore, we need help and we are looking for strong business partners and investors that can open doors in the field of big data analytics.

Founder, editor in chief of Startups&TheCity.