Irish RegTech Think Evolve Solve is empowering businesses to really take advantage of their data

Think Evolve Solve was launched in 2012 to help companies compete using data. However, they quickly realised that a real pain existed in how companies gather their data in the first place and that solving this was key.

Dublin-headquartered RegTech company Think Evolve Solve is the brainchild of founder and CEO Thomas Russell. But before coming up with the concept behind Think Evolve Solve, he had spent a decade within the tech space, first as a consultant at Accenture and then as a senior leader at start-up Private Higher Education College, IBAT.

The idea behind Think Evolve Solve was simply to enable companies to use data to drive innovation and business performance. “While many businesses at the time recognized the importance of data, few understood where to start, what data assets they had, how to gather their data or indeed how to understand and manage data,” Russel tells RegTech Analyst.

It dawned on him that business leaders lacked a central framework that would enable them to look at and understand data as a business opportunity from which a business case could be clearly defined. As a result they were unable to activate the data projects that were needed.

“We saw a real opportunity to bring clarity to executive leaders, to give them a context in which they could articulate their data challenges, quantify and understand the data within their businesses. From there they can implement data-driven initiatives,” Russell explains. “It was a major opportunity for us when we set up the company and in my view it will continue to be a major opportunity in the coming years.”

Think Evolve Solve has also managed to distinguish itself from large consultancies in other ways. “We approach customer problems as data specialists, not as business consultants or IT architects,” Russell says. “This is a subtle difference but bringing a data first perspective to the problem has allowed us to enable our clients to see the opportunity of data and deliver real value.”

The company has also seen considerable advantage from leveraging Russell’s network and the trusted relationships that he had built with existing contacts. “Personally, I had a good reputation in the marketplace as someone who brings clarity and delivers,” he explains. “I had a strong track-record, particularly in Dublin. This was invaluable as I built my business.”

Russell remembers, “In the early days we were focused on advisory and as the market evolved we evolved and now I would consider us more of a data technology firm. A pivotal moment came when a key client in the insurance sector – instead of handing our recommendations over to their IT team – asked us to build and provide the technology. As the approach we were recommending was novel and had the potential to be disruptive we saw a clear opportunity to build something of value that our broader client base could also use.

“Having this initial client working with us, along with our client base getting involved was a critical enabler for ensuring that the technology we created delivered on the opportunity that we saw,” Russell continues. “It was a perfect way to grow our product because we had customer’s driving development from day zero. It meant that we could have constant two-way feedback that really helped shaped product development.”

But there were also challenges along the way, not the least of which was finding the right talent.

“Like many high-growth tech companies, having the right people is critical,” Russell explains. “We tend not to recruit graduates straight from university. We need a minimum five years of experience not just from a tech perspective but from the perspective of dealing with customers and managing customer expectations.”

Think Evolve Solve looks for good listeners, tenacious problem solvers and innovators. “That’s what our customers have come to expect,” Russell says. “As a result, we have built a team that I am proud to be a part of. And it has paid dividends for our business. As key contacts in our accounts have moved on to new roles and new companies, they’ve brought us with them.”

These insights culminated in the creation of Think Evolve Solve’s Gather 360 SaaS tool. “Gather 360 solves one of today’s most urgent data problems – the executive’s need to have easy and automated access to statistically accurate data; for informed decision-making, reporting and to power RegTech and other systems, without relying on IT or Analyst teams,” Russell explains.

He adds that the product is built around the principle that, “a data analyst should not be cleaning data, they should be analyzing data,” and making it easy for business and data teams to collaborate with data suppliers (IT, external partners, data vendors) so that they provide the data needed at the required quality level. Gather 360 manages the key activities to ensure both stakeholders work efficiently together to accelerate the provision of high-quality data. Resulting in increased data quality and the accelerated flow of data to the business and data teams.

“We knew that by optimizing the relationship between these two stakeholders significant improvements to data quality, provenance, speed, reliability and costs could be achieved,” Russell explains.

Gather 360 allows a business leader to define what data they need and the required format and then to ask the business, their customers, partners or suppliers to provide that data. Gather 360 validates the data whilst identifying and flagging anomalies at source for correction and resubmission.

“It consolidates and enriches the data, delivering it in the defined format – clean and ready to use,” Russell says. “More than that, it provides an auditable trail of data-gathering and verification. Gather 360 removes the bottlenecks, so that a project that used to take hours, now takes minutes. It’s as simple as that.”

So far, Gather 360 has been used predominantly in the financial services sector where high levels of regulation and a need for compliance have driven a robust approach to verifying data provenance. However, Russell sees opportunities for Gather 360 in other regulated industries, including aerospace and food-manufacturing. “Where there is a need for data governance, due-diligence and control, efficient data flow there is a role for Gather 360,” he adds.

Russell is also bullish about the future need of products like Gather360. “This is just the beginning,” he adds. “We are working on other data services for our customers in really innovative spaces. There’s a great opportunity to bring creative thinking to the market, to solve customer problems, to help them integrate faster data products that are available in the marketplace into their business. If we look at how data services have developed across the last decade, the next decade is going to bring even more opportunities.”

So what’s next for Think Evolve Solve? “For me it’s about building a world-class business, operating across multiple geographies, enabling companies to deliver on data opportunities faster and more efficiently,” Russell concludes. “We serve the UK and Ireland markets, we’re starting to develop opportunities in the US. The opportunity for Gather 360 is global.”

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