“I’m a connected data nut” | An interview with Mike Oaten

Mike Oaten is an entrepreneur and alumnus of the Tech South West StartUp Studio accelerator programme.

In this interview, Mike discusses his founder journey and ambition for the future.

Tell me about the business?

I started Regulation Technologies as a side project after working as a co-founder at a previous analytics start-up (Riskopy Inc. acquired by NASDAQ-listed Coupa Software). 

I’m a connected data nut and had a gut feeling a real-time ‘digital twin’ of all UK companies, their directors and shareholders would be a valuable data asset and a business could be built around it identifying KYC/AML risks and investment trends that traditional analysis would miss.

Along with a fantastic data engineer, I launched the first version along with an API – which at the time was unique in the market – and signed our first customers.

Shortly afterwards we were acquired by an established company data provider, and after bedding in and expanding the product suite with them for 2 years, I recently left to start up another venture.

How was the founder journey for you – tough, inspiring, or both?

Both, but they don’t get served up equally day to day! As a founder, I’d say you should expect an 80:20 split with some long stretches of ‘tough as f***’.

You need to believe in your goal and be realistic about the resources you’ll need to get there. Attract as much support and help as you can and keep going.

What do you think is key in that startup phase in terms of establishing the business in your market?

This was something that we worked on in the StartUp Studio. Identify a beachhead: a market niche small enough to know inside out quickly and to secure your first sales from but big enough to sustain you whilst you iterate.

In our case, we specifically targeted Heads of Data or Product in well-funded fintech challengers as long as they were not banks. We had one simple API which solved a specific KYC issue. We had a hit list of 50 individuals, a manageable number to research and to target our initial approach to. Keeping it hyper-niche worked for us.

How useful was StartUp Studio to you – personally and for the business?

It was great.

In addition to the formal programme where we honed the business model, the pitch, and identified our beachhead market, we worked with a brilliant mentor (Andy Doyle at Filmily) and a supportive cohort of other founders.

In the early days, I had significant bouts of doubt, so being in a cadre of similar lunatics oddly can help with my sanity.

So, what’s next?

I very recently set up Tikos where we’re building knowledge graphs from a business’s unstructured data to deliver a trustworthy ‘chat with my docs and data’ product.

The potential for generative AI to abstract away whole layers of existing technology and manual tasks is very much on the cards but can’t be built on sand – that’s where knowledge graphs can help.

We’re at the prototype stage and looking for pilot projects, specifically businesses with troves of web text that can be re-purposed for sales & marketing or training content, or to better support customer support teams.

Growth Forge is Tech South West’s new business programme, combining learnings from the StartUp and ScaleUp Studio programmes.

For more information and to apply, go to https://www.techsouthwest.co.uk/growthforge/

Learn about Mike’s company Tikos at https://tikos.tech/

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