In the digital age, many more businesses are working to gain an edge via effective data analytics.

Companies have immediate access to more data than ever before, but filtering it to get the right insights is still easier said than done.

Speaking with Stockhead, Narbeh Yousefian says he witnessed that struggle first hand during his career as a data analyst.

“Software-as-a-service (SaaS) was booming and we saw companies getting subscriptions left and right. But the problem was information was being shifted into silos, so it had a dilution of meaning because everyone in the business had a different perspective of what the customer wanted,” he said.

That eventually became the catalyst for Yousefian to start analytics firm Poplin Data in 2016. Together with his co-founders, he set about leveraging their experience to “start a clean slate” and engineer something with a firm-wide application.

In that time, the company has built up a client base across established businesses in retail, media and fintech with a premium analytics service.

“We’ve done well because companies in those spaces are already organised into teams focusing on a particular area. Our tech is essentially fabric — providing a fabric for companies to effectively organise their data,” Yousefian said.


It’s all about consistency

While a standardised data analytics strategy is good in theory, in practice it’s more complex. So in that sense, a successful commercial partnership can only be established if there’s mutual buy-in from the client side, Yousefian says.

“We’re quite picky with who we work with because it’s a premium service, but we understand exactly what market we’re serving,” he explained.

In terms of its strategic application, Poplin’s aim is to help individual company divisions to assess what they’re doing within a broader context.

“We bring a level of consistency to how company’s package and analyse data; looking at it as one common problem instead of 20 separate problems,” Yousefian said.

“Teams might be able to organise holistic view of the customer, but in terms of execution blinkers are on,” he says.

“The broader remit is — how do we execute on customer acquisition, to products, transactions and delivery logistics?

“When you have a system where it’s okay to make mistakes because everything is highly organised and scalable, you can start to explore new ideas.

“And that’s the difference between what we do as a platform play — along with people involvement — compared to your classic SaaS analytics service.”



For companies that can better automate their data practices, Yousefian says the value-add for Poplin’s customer segment is clearly measurable.

And it’s made for an interesting three-year ride for the company, which the founders initially set up outside of their old jobs with “a lot of late-night hours”.

The founders also took a somewhat “old-fashioned” approach to launching the business, steering clear of seed-stage capital once they’d established the software.

And as first-time founders, the team also thought their lack of experience in negotiating terms with potential investors may work against them.

“We thought, ‘if customers like what we do they’ll pay us’. So if this is going to be a real thing, we need to get people to pay for it straight away,” Yousefian said.

“Our customers are companies which have demonstrated market fit and now they want to scale. So it’s an important problem we’re solving and the cost is commensurate with that.

“But it’s worth it because we come in at an inflection point for the company — from the CEO’s point of view they want to take it from a high-growth startup to the next level.”