Navigating the Waves of Data & AI: Insights with Marty Conneely
In episode 37 of REDD’s Business and Technology Podcast, dive deep into the transformative journey of data and analytics with our hosts Jackson Barnes and Brad Ferris, and their guest, the visionary Marty Conneely! This episode is a compelling narrative that unfolds the remarkable evolution of data platforms, from the early days of innovative visualisation tools to today’s thrilling AI-centric world. Marty reminisces about the frontier spirit of 2005-2010, a period marked by rapid advancements and technological marvels. As we navigate through the years, witness the shift from traditional data platforms to dynamic visualisation insights, epitomised by powerhouses like Tableau.
Fast forward to 2023, and the conversation takes an electrifying turn towards AI. The AI hype cycle has reached its zenith, and the emphasis is now on tangible business value. Marty’s insights into Large Language Models (LLMs), particularly the captivating innovations and their applications, will leave you in awe. The episode also touches upon the challenges of keeping up with this fast-paced world – where course content can become outdated before it even launches!
But it’s not just about the tech! Unravel the curious tale behind the unique Conneely surname, rooted in Irish ancestry and New York’s bustling ports. As the conversation steers into the future, hear Marty’s passion for merging data with healthcare, offering a vision of a future where tech enhances our well-being.
It’s tech, it’s tales, it’s twists and turns! This episode feels like a lively conversation with an old friend who’s been at the epicentre of every digital disruption.
#InformationTechnology #Innovation #DataEvolution #HealthcareTechFuture
00:00 – Opener
00:34 – Marty Introduction
00:53 – Marty Career Background
10:35 – Marty’s Achievements regarding Data for businesses
14:22 – What does Aginic look like today?
16:56 – Lessons learned during the first year of starting up a business
18:45 – Advice for start-up business owners
21:49 – Efficiency through growth
25:24 – Services focused business on managing cash flow
29:17 – Hiring Virtual CFO
30:34 – Finding the right person for the job and retaining them
32:44 – Advice on culture retention
34:58 – Principal-based organization
36:19 – Aginic Ventures
39:04 – Evolution of Data Services from 2014 to now
42:53 – Other AI that hitting the businesses now
47:40 – What’s next for Marty?
49:48 – Outro
If you would like to discuss any of the topics discussed in this episode further with a REDD expert or if you would like to be a guest on the show, please get in touch either via our website, [email protected], or through any of the links below. https://redd.com.au
Hello and welcome to Redd’s Business and Technology podcast. I’m your host, Jackson Barnes.
I’m your co-host Brad Ferris.
Today we’re sitting down with Marty Conneely, who’s the founder and director of Aginic. We’re getting a lot of insights out of my today on his business background and data and why data. But mate, before we get there, Marty, thanks for coming in.
Thanks guys. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Awesome, mate. Do you want to start with your background way back and then we’ll go from there.
So obviously Redd Office in Toowong in Brisbane. I’m a Brizzy boy, born and raised here and just born on the south side of the river. Went to Q U T and had that fairly stock standard Brizzy upbringing, so down the beach and having a great time. And then I had to get serious after uni, so my old man pushed me into probably a more conservative type degree than I would’ve, but it is, I’ll quickly go into it. I started a marketing degree. I thought, I love talking to people, I love selling things. And my old man’s like, no, no accounting. That’s the way forward. Jesus.
So similar to,
I don’t think we’ve actually had, you’re finishing them.
So he’s smart. My old man, he went, that’s fine, do your marketing degree. And I said, oh look, I’d actually like to take a year off uni and I want to drive around Australia in a van. And he said, look, I’ll buy you a van, but when you come back you switch that over and you do an accounting degree. And I was like, oh. And he made a deal I couldn’t refuse, so.
Oh, that’s cool. Didn’t get quite, I didn’t get the van, but I got the same sort. I don’t think we’ve ever had this conversation. So for everyone listening, Marty and I, it’s full circle here almost. We started as young snappy graduates at Ton Young back in 2005. So it’s good to have mighty in here on the show and good to hear his perspectives. But yeah, just touching on that, I had this exact same thing. So we were both chartered accountants and my dad gave me the same pep talk. I was like, yeah, I’m going to go and do marketing. He’s like, oh mate, yeah, cool, but maybe you should look at accounting. And I remember laughing at him and he said to me, he’s like, look mate, seriously, you can have all the good ideas in the world you want, but if you don’t get the numbers right, that’s all they’re ever going to be. I was like, okay, fine, fine, fine. So yeah, now I don’t practice accounting on a regular basis, but I mean I’m looking at numbers daily and I guess probably take for granted really now that I’ve been out of the accounting world and working in commerce, how valuable that skillset is to being in a business or running a business.
Amazing, amazing foundation. And I just didn’t know it as an 18 year old kid, but my dad knew what was best and steered me down that way and that’s why we got to work together. So I ran through that accounting degree at Q U T and was lucky enough to get a grad position at ey and then Brad and I worked together, did it’s a great business to work in. They pretty much run you through a process where you learn a ton of things, you get to work with a range of industries, big businesses, small businesses, different industries, health mining banks, and you learn how those businesses work and you work as really smart people. You learn from the people you’re working with. So had a great time and that was the first half of my career. So I ran through there for 10 years and then built up the courage and went and started a business for myself. So 2014 I started genic data business based in Brisbane with a buddy of mine. And then we’ve been through a whole journey with that business now, so we’re 10 years in.
So what was, you fast forwarded quite a bit there from starting ey, so obviously you got your skillset, you got your toolbox, you got some experience. At what point did you, did you always think that you wanted to do something else or was there a specific moment that you can recall when you’re like, yep, I’m going to do my own thing, got this idea? Look,
I think I always, my old man is a bit of an entrepreneur. He had his own business, he was an electrician, but then he kind of spun that out and started his own thing. And I always looked up to him and went, that would be cool to be your own boss and build something. So I always had that ambition I think, but I didn’t know how to execute. So I think spending 10 years at e y meant and just building a craft, building a skillset and that’s valuable to people. And then the next logical step is how do I turn that craft or that skillset into a business?
And Brett, was that EY as well?
Your business partner, sorry,
My business partner, Brett Turbo, he started, he’s an English, he’s from Jersey actually, which is an island off the coast of France, but it’s kind of technically a British colony area territory I think they call it. So he started as it straight into data analytics and data consulting in London. I started in accounting really and audit. And I evolved over my career at EY into data. And the reason I did that was because I just had a passion for it. So I was working on on understanding say how a mine works at Rio Tinto, but I quickly ascertained that data would help me understand that in more detail and help me work out ways to optimize that rather than just observing or talking to people. The data was really the power in that work. And so I sort of
Pivoted into data and away from sort of financial accounting. And that was a lucky timing because EY was building out the data practice and I was able to get the advantages of working with EY and growing that. And then Brett moved over to Brisbane and we were sort of given the task to continue to build out the data practice for ey, which at its time was a couple of people. And we had effectively an opportunity to learn how to grow a business within a business, within a business because the way that those big four organizations work is you’re really, you’re a sole trader within a big practice. And so you bring your own business in, you deliver it, you build your team, but you kind of get the easy bit sorted out for you. You get it sorted, you get a brand, you get your payroll done
For, you still got the safety right.
Yeah, it’s an awesome way to learn how to run a business.
So why did you take the risk and the leak to start your own show instead of just trying to climb the ranks as you want?
Yeah, it’s a funny one because we’re having a great time and we’re building, it’s fun when you’re growing. It’s fun when you’re working in an innovative area where if you look at the data landscape, data as a technology in the business world was really being born around that time like 2005 to 2010, everyone was just learning about it and there was so much technology innovating that space. So it was so much fun. I wasn’t really thinking too much about the future. I was just having a great time building this business and then got the tap on the shoulder for me why? And they said, you guys are killing it. You’re doing great. Here’s the pathway to partner, you’re on track. And that for me was actually ironically the moment where I went, I don’t want to be a partner, I don’t want to be here anymore.
It’s meant to do the opposite. I thought,
Well that, I think that was their intention, but what it ended up doing was a catalyst for having a think about the next decade of my career.
You were a senior manager, correct? Correct. Yeah. And that is I guess in the big four world is when you start thinking about correct, where am I going to go?
And I think as you get closer and closer to partner, I don’t want to, I think that those businesses are amazing places and they have such amazing talent and it’s such a great learning. I would push my kids into doing a few years in big four just because of the amount you learn and experience you get. But it just wasn’t a long-term career path for me. A partner role isn’t necessarily a business owner role, it’s very different. But when I first went in I thought partners were business owners, but it’s still a corporate role and there’s a lot of things that you do that a business owner, but you don’t get the raw startup components. You don’t have to find a premises, you don’t have to work out what accounting system you’re going to be using and you don’t have to pay payroll yourself.
That sounds horrible. Why do you want to do that?
There’s a rush to it, right? There is an excitement to it I suppose, doing all those things, creating a logo, creating a brand. We’ll move past this in a sec, but yeah, just to round it out, I mean there’s an excitement I would say to that first however many months year where you’re not hamstrung by anything. You’re responsible for everything and you can really do whatever it is you want to do. Which is one thing, I mean you can’t do that obviously in a big firm.
So limited, is that what why you’re going to break the shackles and unlimited to go and do whatever you want?
Yeah, I think it comes down to ability to execute on your own decisions. So if you’re a partner, there’s a lot of framework, there’s a lot of governance and your actual ability to have a strategy and execute on it is constrained.
Okay, so let’s go a little bit fast forward and then obviously you doubled down on data, started your own firm with a business partner. Just to set the scene a little bit, what’s an example of a really exciting kind of data project or a good outcome you achieved for a business?
Yeah, look, there’s tons of examples and maybe one good one is we’ve sort of worked with to help build a medical insights business called Cuco SoCo. So we started working with another primary care four or five years ago. There are 30 GP practice out in south side of Brisbane and this is just a really good example of how data can both help a business grow and grow efficiently, but also kind of help the outcomes of the business, the goals of the business, which is better patient care, better patient outcomes. They came to us and said, we’ve got 30 GPS running in this clinic, we’ve got so much happening and we don’t really have a finger on the pulse of are we being efficient? Are all our patients being seen when they need to be seen? Are they being recalled when they need to come back and see us?
They use software to manage their practice, but they didn’t really have the insights and the day-to-day information they needed to make sure that they were doing that effectively. And so that sort of started with, hey, let’s pull the data out of their patient management system and start to just run some analysis and work out which gps are, there’s so many questions, there’s like 500 questions when we brainstormed it that would help them. It’s things like, does a GP have an interesting work caseload? Are they getting to see different ages and different diseases and different chronic or different types of patients because that makes their job interesting and it also allows them to get a broader diverse work work set. So there’s that sort of stuff. And then there are all our gps busy enough and are all our GPS doing the right mix of nurse versus gp, not for each patient and are there patients that we haven’t seen in a year and we should be seeing them. So many questions that we could just easily answer with data
And then that’s a great example of that we can take that, we can then convert that into a standard view for a person who’s running a clinic and then they can make it better immediately. Would you build automation off the back of that for them as well? Would you scope go that far? Definitely Where we ended up going with that product is we created a business that built software that connects to the medical systems. So medical director best practice and provides clinics with insights. And so that’s now running in 1500 clinics and it’s doing a really good job of helping those clinics provide a better service for patients.
Also provide a lot of value if you’re able to turn it from a project into a business and roll out to that many clinics.
Correct. And then the other thing is if you are a gp, it’s actually a pretty hard industry to make money. So this is helping a good business needs to make money and it needs to do its job. And I think a lot of gps are out there, they want to service the community and they want to help the community get better. This helps them actually make a bit of money so that they’re sustainable.
Awesome. So rolling forward to today and then we’ll go backwards. What does genic look like today?
Alright, so genic as has grown from Brett and I in my front porch room at East Brisbane in 2014, scared as heck about how I’m going to pay for dinner for my pregnant wife to 120 50 people. And we’re actually now part of a, we’ve merged with a business that’s based down in Melbourne called the Mantle Group. And so in all across our whole group of brother and sister brands, we’re about 900 people and we offer technical capability across data, across cloud and across digital. And we’re working with the biggest companies in Australia.
Well, it’s a bit of a journey. Let’s roll back to close to the start of it. When you were east Brisbane, just you two struggling to what do we do for dinner? What was the first moment when you realized, okay no this is actually working, this is a proper business, let’s get an offer and hire more people and that kind of thing?
I think I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this. The first year is scary as hell and I think if you’re starting a business you just have to prepare yourself to work hard and just run at it. Do you know what I mean? It takes a year to get the engine started on a business and that first year is hard. It’s hard to hard yer and you’ve just got to be prepared for that. So that first year was all about juggling all of those balls that when I was at EY we’re getting done for me. So it’s like someone’s paying payroll, someone’s servicing my laptop, getting me a new laptop. If something breaks, someone’s invoicing, the customer, someone’s helping me do the business development. All of that stuff falls back onto you and then you are suddenly doing, you’re doing six roles, which I enjoyed for a short term, not a sustainable occupation over the long term.
What did you learn from that first year? Because I mean the percentage of staff businesses that fail in the first year, I dunno what the stats are, but it’s like ridiculously high rider, like 60 something percent if not hired fail in the first year, probably should know that stat. But anyway. What are some lessons you learned in that first year?
The business needs to make money. Do you know what I mean? If it’s your first business and where we were the business, the type of business it was, it needed to be a moneymaking venture and it needed to have a strategy and a plan to be cashflow positive. And so that’s the kind of life and death because all the other thing is all the other things are secondary to that.
And why do you say that? Is it because when you first started you kind of broke out from big company and there was this enorm, like you said, getting all these other functions built, you didn’t have that initial plan on how to become a moneymaking machine from day one. Is that why you mentioned that?
No, I think because if you had that kind of core goal to go, what is the viability of the economic viability of this business? It’s a simple model. When you’re doing services professional, the model is fairly straightforward. You’re selling time, right? You’re selling time, but there’s a lot of complexity behind that model because there’s quality, there’s business development, are you working and selling the right type of service? So I think you have that goal, but then you need to translate that back through to the secondary goals which are is it a sustainable and is it the type of business that will grow?
And obviously it did where you are today. I had a question around that. So being in the position you’re in now and going through that hardship with the corporate background and then the first year then to where you are now, what advice would you have for entrepreneurs or startup business owners on how to scale efficiently?
Scaling isn’t linear, I suppose that’s the first thing I would say. So scaling is bumpy and at different inflection points in your growth. And I’m only talking about zero to 120 people, so I’m learning more as I’m part of businesses that are scaling bigger than that now. But I would say in that early stage sort of sub 100 people, there’s probably still a half a dozen scaling points and inflection points where different pain points happen and to be prepared for them basically. So for example, if you are two business partners running a business and you are focused very much on what you’re doing in your product, probably up to 20 people, you can self-manage that without any kind of back office staff. You can do it all yourself and it’s fun. Everyone is doing stuff that relates to making them business drive, but there’s a point where you need to realize if you want to continue to grow, you need to restructure your business and put in non-revenue generating employees or people that aren’t client facing and then that changes the balance of a business. And so being aware that maybe 20 people, at 50 people at 80 people at a hundred people, you’re going to hit these different pain points. And if I would’ve done anything differently, I probably would’ve, now that I know that I would’ve helped my team be aware of that because I think people blindly grow and the team blindly grows and you almost go past that pain point and you have this probably six month period where everyone’s just
Hurting. Should’ve done that six months ago. Yeah,
And I think if you’re aware that you’re going to hit those points before you hit them, then there’s things you can do. It’s still going to be painful, but there’s things you can do just around team and making the team aware that you’re making these changes and helping that kind of ease that pain or that growth I think is key and I didn’t do it. So that’s just hindsight
Lot other question, Brad, did you want to jump in there?
No, look, I mean I can just echo kind of what Marty’s saying. There is definitely those different pain points. It is lumpy and you don’t always know, like you said when you’re in it. So if you did have some of that foresight or some of that guidance, but where we are now at around 50 odd, definitely it was a big transition putting in a back office staff management team, those kinds of governance people, managing people becomes a much bigger task I suppose. Making sure everybody gets what they need, gets what they want is heard. So
I’m always so focused on kind of efficiency. I think you have to always be through that whole growth kind of trajectory. You need to make sure that everybody feels like they’re contributing and that the team, because it’s always constantly changing, it’s like a moving feast and so it’s about going is everybody feel like they know what their role is and feel like they’re contributing. That helps everybody feel like they’re valuable and helps the culture. And so I might just go into one thing that reminded me of that conversation when we got to 50, we had it is the sort of ever present problem of a professional services business is you’re doing three to six month projects and then they don’t always line up perfectly so
They never line up perfectly is probably a better way to phrase it. And so you have a bench and so you’ve got these amazing superstar team members who might be sitting on the bench for a month and waiting for that next project. I was looking at that at 50 people going, this is a waste. They’re doing a bit of learning development, but they’re really not excited about what they’re doing. They’re waiting for that next thing to come along. And so that sort of spawned the idea of, hey, we’ve got all these ideas, a bunch of smart people thinking about ideas and we’re working with a bunch of these different clients who have problems and we’re fixing them maybe in a project, but then we’re seeing a pattern of these problems. There’s probably some product ideas here that we can work on with that bench. And the team love it because they’re working on product and we like it because it’s more efficient and it’s cool. And so we started Genic Ventures and that was about halfway through four years into building genic. So
That was around 50 people.
So we were about 50 people and we kind of dedicated a couple of people, well all these things you iterate on trying to get the right model. And in the beginning it was like just use the bench. But then as soon as we win a big project, the bench gets swept and then we’re like, what about all these
Stuff? Where’s the bench
Stuff? Yeah, it’s like, well the stuff cool stuff we’re buildings just stalled. So then we kind of got to a point where we decided that we needed to dedicate a couple of people and yeah, that’s evolved over time. It’s been super exciting that part of the business is now about 10 or 12 dedicated software engineers, product people, and we effectively build product but we do it for equity type idea. So they’re just diversification of our business because we are seeing ideas as we get around town and talk to people and then we’re helping build those ideas out for a longer play.
I do want to unpack that and what that looks like now the ventures piece, but before we get there, what advice do you have for services focused business on managing cashflow? Because I can imagine you’ve got project and we’re similar to that, but we have a lot of recurring stuff and project-based work I guess. So half that problem I guess, but it’s always like you win more work, then you put on more people, then you don’t win work and then you’ve got people and that kind of thing. What advice would you have for that?
Well, I could probably thank my dad because he made me get an accounting degree.
Get an accounting degree. No jokes aside. I think you need to understand, you need to not be afraid of accounting and not be afraid of information, data and reporting on your business. So that stuff will give you a horizon, it’ll give you a forward looking view of where you’re at and then you can make much better decisions I think if you’re not looking at the data of your own business. And for me it was like it would be a sacrilege because I tell all my customers and clients that I work with, that data is the lifeblood of their business. I need to be looking at my own data as well and I need to know what’s the trend to the trajectory and then you got to commit to it. And we always built the business on full-time employees rather than contracting. And that was more of a cultural play. We’re so focused on building a team and a culture. You can’t do that with contractor based growth I think.
So just on that one a little bit, just because helped me out a little bit with this, what was the inflection point to bring on that external financial advice in that kind of virtual C f O type role?
It’s not necessarily an exact point in time, but it’s finding the right person. So I think once you get over 50 people, you’re at a scale where you could do with it,
It’s one of those roles where it needs to be someone who’s really good and it’s rare to find that skillset
That will jive with you and your team and your culture, et cetera. And yeah, it’s just interesting we both say that we’ve got accounting degrees, but again, a term that I came across recently that I really liked that I shared earlier is as you do evolve and the business grows and you’re used to being across everything we were talking about your not to-do list becomes more important than your to-do list and knowing where to move those items on your to to-do list around your team.
I love that.
So I guess it was this year for us where I define it, there’s just so many transactions, there’s just so much going through the business, whereas two years ago, however long ago was able to almost know every single thing that was coming in and out, but it’s just impossible in practical. So you kind have to have a mindset shift in your style as well and be able to find the right people. So again, thank you and train your team, develop your team, build that framework for someone else to do it.
Yeah, and of goes back to that scaling question, I think you want to constantly be thinking about how you make yourself redundant because as you scale, it’s just not feasible to do everything. And then it’s about picking good people.
That’s an interesting one that is not linear either. That is a very, there’s no right answer other than that you need to manage your time and build out the team. So yeah, there’s a
Gut feel in that and there’s a bit of an art I think. And then I think London buses, you might not see a good person for a couple of months and then you might find three good people and you’ve got to make a call as to whether you just commit and bring ’em all in.
I do want to unpack that piece, finding good people and then retaining, it’s probably really hard in what you do, I’d say, which we have the same kind of challenges obviously everyone does in this kind of landscape. But back to that, you joked and said getting a candidate degree. When was the point where you said, okay, no, we actually need a virtual C F O extra help. What was that point?
I think to Brad’s point, it becomes an opportunity cost question, right? Because I work hard and work hard all day, but each hour that I put into the business returns some kind of value back out and it’s about looking at that input and saying, where am I best used in the business right now? And that’s that kind of constant challenge of you have to challenge yourself every year on that in the business and go, where am I best used? And I think there’s a point where you go, I’m wasted doing all this finance work, I’d much better going out talking to customers or taking the team out and building the team or working on recruitment or do you know what I mean? And kind of go, what’s the opportunity cost of the situation at the time?
Good advice. So on the people piece, imagine what you do. You’ve got software developers, probably data analysts and a bunch of those kind of people which are not easy to find and to keep happy and retain. What advice would you have around finding the right person and then retaining them?
Yeah, it’s an interesting one because we’ve had a few different strategies over the years. I think one thing that I can say just straight out is I prioritize a person’s ability and current and capability over their experience. So the person’s attributes are much more important than the number of years that’ve worked in the industry or on a certain technology. And so I’ve kind of gone with that philosophy first, hire good people and they can learn and different recruiting techniques. I’m not sure if I’d give ’em away on the podcast then anyone I recruit is going to be researching this stuff. But I do little challenges and things in because I’m looking for cognitive stuff, but I’m also, it’s like the beer test plus the cognitive stuff that
I’m, give us an example, Marty, when you used maybe ages ago, you don’t use anymore.
Yeah, because actually I don’t do a lot of recruitment anymore, so that’s probably okay. But it’s the bucket. There’s the bucket challenge, which is a great one. So it’s like a three liter bucket and a five liter bucket. You’ve got a running tap and if you’re a Bruce Willis fan and you’ve watched Die Hard Diehard three specifically, and they’re in Central Park and you’re like, I’ve seen that on Die Hard three, then I’m like, you’re hired. But it’s a little logic challenge that says you’ve got a running tap, you’ve got three liter bucket, you’ve got a five liter bucket, you need to make exactly four liters. And so it’s about thinking on the spot in the interview and going, what can I do with those things? And you learn a lot about a person who hasn’t come across a problem like that and they’re solving it in front of you in a high pressure situation.
And then on the retaining talent, what do you do around that kind of culture differently? Obviously you’ve grown successfully, which means you can’t do that at scale without a good culture and having good people, you’ve got to 120 and then obviously you merged with Mantle Group. So what advice would you have around that culture of retention?
That’s one of the catalysts for joining the Mantle group because I think we were, were stretching our business with the team we had and we’re at 120 people, we were lacking the sales marketing arsenal and we also were looking for ways to manage that as we scaled the culture thing. Because traditionally if it’s a team that’s 50 or less, the founders can have a real impact on that still. And I think it’s really about leading by example and driving these initiatives for people to come together and really leading from the top that culture. Once you scale past that people don’t know you and they don’t see you every day because they’re in a different office. So that was one of the sort of scaling pain points for us and it’s been awesome joining Mantle who kind of scaled through that and they’re at 600 people, they came together with us and the thing that I’ve learned from Mantle is they’ve got the two founders and then the next person in the leadership is Caroline who’s a head of hr. And so they prioritize against everything else people. And so Caroline is in all the leadership stuff and she’s really driving the people and the culture of the organization and it’s demonstrated in the mantle group as one the best place to work four years in a row, they won, came first, last two years.
Why did they win? What are things they do well?
Yeah, it’s a couple of different, I mean this is probably a whole podcast
I guess crammed, but
If I cram it into a couple of things that I’ve observed,
I think it’s principle-based organization is key. So rather than a policy-based organization, so a principle-based organization is, Hey guys, everyone here is smart and we trust you. Here are kind of the six principles we want to run our organization by. We trust you to make good decisions and you’re an adult and you’re smart and you’re part of this team. And even at 900 people now, we don’t have an expense policy. You just make good choices about what you need to do in the best interest of the business. I love that. And people love that. Teams love that. They want the freedom to execute and get stuff done. And when we’re up against our competitors who are Big four now, I remember back to those days and thinking of being a partner there, you’ve got someone still approving your coffee expenses down the road or whatever, do you know what I mean? It was a very different, once you scale to a hundred thousand people, 150,000 people, it’s process and structure right through. So I think that is a key foundational
Piece. We probably can unpack that a lot, but we’ll carry on. Go for a while. Give us an overview of Eugenic Ventures. So what kind of, I guess projects or do you call ’em projects? What do you call ’em now? Products or
Well they’re Ventures. Ventures, so they’re products and where it’s evolved to from that kind bench team kind of prototyping stuff out to is really a true incubator now. So we’ve got a great guy that’s sort of been part of our business, Robbie Mackay since pretty early on and he sort of co-founded the Ventures piece with us. And he is constantly on the lookout for two things, great founders, like great people who show the traits of someone who could really create a good business and then great ideas and they don’t always have to come together. You can get a great founder with a crap idea and it’s going to go nowhere or you can get a not so great founder with a excellent idea and it’s not going to get there. So you kind of need those two things. And so Robbie now, and the way the ventures business works is it’s very much a where over the last five years, I mean you guys probably have seen it, but there’s just been an amazing growth in startup culture and the community in Brisbane and we’ve kind of been a part of that and it’s been super exciting to see he’s been beaten that pavement and meeting people and looking for ideas.
And then when we find those good ideas and those good people coming together, then we partner with them to build their product. Very early stage is our target. So we’re looking for people probably with just an idea in their head, they haven’t even incorporated a company or within six months of that kind of timeframe at the very beginning. Then we’ll build it and it’s not just product focused. It’s like we’ll help you with your website, we’ll help you with your brand, we’ll help you with all the bits that you need to get this business up and running. So it’s true incubation and six, nine months, 12 months later, we’re targeting revenue. We’re looking for businesses that are software, SaaS, health tech with a data bent is our kind of Perfect.
Makes sense. Yeah.
Spots where it’s our heritage. And that’s in Mantle group as well. Yeah, so Mantle group, so mental group is a house of brands. Think of it as a house of brands. There’s a bunch of brands in there and now we have Genic and Genic Ventures as brands. Cool. The businesses that we help are separate still. Yeah.
Talk to me, pivoting around back to the core data services. When you started Egen in 2014, what did that look like? What did data and insights and services look like then versus now? Yeah,
Great question and I can probably just sort of preempt this question with another sort of overall comment. If you look at software, software has been sort of being created in the mainstream since about 19 90, 19 95 say. And so it’s 30 years old now, you can call it true kind of mainstream software development data really came into its fore in say 2000, 2005, that kind of range probably a full decade later. So it was very exciting. It was almost like the frontier back in 2005 when Brad and I started, there was Excel and there were things like that, but there really wasn’t, the technology wasn’t there, the computing processing wasn’t there. You couldn’t load a million rows of data into your Excel and make sensible analysis of it because your computer wasn’t powerful enough to do it.
So it was a frontier, it was awesome. 2005, 2010, the change that happened in that space and just the proliferation of innovation and products that were coming meant that there was a lot of exciting stuff coming out every year. So 2014, the real focus by that point was moving away from your traditional cube based technologies and sort of slow moving data platforms to rapid visualization insights generation. And the tooling was there like the Tableaus and the Power BI wasn’t quite there, but at that kind of visualization products were just launching and we’d go talk to CFOs and it was like, I haven’t seen you just grab a bit of data and in two hours you were showing them stuff about their business that they didn’t know and that was awesome. I loved that we were just rolling around
Just generating insights like this and then obviously all things cycle. What happened then was that matured, that visualization space, which is good. So a lot of organizations invested in analysts and visual visualization analysts and people that could build power BI dashboards. And that happened say 2015 to 2019 as a data professional services business. We want to be staying out of the commodity space. They don’t want to talk to us about stuff that they’re doing. They want to talk about us about stuff they’re not doing. And so we moved then probably deeper into the stack because you can think about timing, Azure was being launched in the early 2000 tens. A w s was there and growing. There was a lot of cloud and there was a lot of cloud platform stuff happening and then that means more engineering type stuff. So it’s like moving data into the cloud, migrating onto more modern data platforms. The visualization stuff sat on top of that, but a lot of the work was in that kind of engineering space.
And then today, 2023, what’s
Happening? Oh, we’re on the AI hype cycle. Do you like the roller coaster?
Everyone’s talk about it. Everyone’s talking about it. What’s actually happening? Well,
Everyone’s been talking about it for five, 10 years. I actually think we’re getting the traction where we’ve come off the hype cycle and we’re into actually business value territory now.
I feel like everyone’s talking about chatt T, but what other AI is actually hitting businesses right now? What’s some of that? What are you seeing?
So what I am seeing is teams investing in capability and I’m seeing technology leaders releasing good product. So if you look at technical for a quick second, but if you look at the leading data platform products like Snowflake and Databricks, if anyone is read up on the platforms, both of those products are in this kind of beautiful innovation cycle right now where they’re kind of come through the last five years and got the baseline of data platform engineering there. And now they’re kind of pushing their products to facilitate ML and ML operations. So like the automation at ML and helping giving businesses the tools they need to actually execute on ML opportunities.
Have you got any, I guess maybe recent case studies like AI projects that you’re safe that you can speak about?
If I look at the kind trajectory, we’re doing five times more of those types of projects than we were three, four years ago. And there is a lot of, so chat G P T is based on a technology called large language model or L L M. There’s a lot of interest in that space right now because chat G P T is just an L L M that people can use and pay for. But there’s a huge amount of innovation happening in the L L M models and businesses can take those models and use them themselves in their own environments. And I think a lot of the work we’re doing now, which is quite exciting, is businesses getting their data in a preparing it for leveraging those models.
I’m seeing a lot of things come out with, this might not be the right technical term, but plugins effectively to that framework, that model where they can put their data into it and get,
Look, the models are evolving and innovating so fast. It’s insane. So the best thing that you can do as a business is get your data ready to leverage those models.
It’s good advice. We had the managing director of ANA on the episode podcast last week actually, and they were just releasing or try and release AI courses and CHATT PT courses and it’s like by the time they get the content out, it’s already changed kind of thing. It’s moving so crazy. There’s definitely a lot of business opportunity I think that’ll pop up around that for sure.
And when it comes, translate it back to real world examples. There’s a lot of businesses out there that have, for example, say big stock databases. This is all our inventory or big customer databases that have all the detail in there and the data quality is very low. Usually it’s been entered by humans over 50 years. And so there’s a lot of crap in there. Basically, there’s so many use cases for LLMs. The first one would be let’s run an L L M through our database and clean it up. Let’s create an image for stock items that don’t have images based on what’s in there and preexisting in there. So you’ve got cleaning up your own data and then probably I can see it sort of taking over the way that humans interact with data and query data. So you don’t build power BI dashboards anymore. You literally just have a natural language interface to your database. So you’re like, it might be just like a query. It might be like how many widgets have we got at the moment in stock? Or how many widgets did we sell last month? That stuff is simple for an L L M, but it also might be based on last year’s sales and this year’s sales. Tell me who I need to be marketing to next year. It’s starting to get to that so you can just start asking questions.
Yeah, I think Microsoft just announced that they had their own private company use in Azure chat. G P T instance is that I think they do. Is that
Azure open ai?
Yeah, they released that.
They’re not, not open release yet, but they’re doing it for special customers.
Right. That’s going to definitely change it. It won’t be
Long. It’ll be here next year.
Yeah, it’s going to be exciting. Couple decade coming up. What’s next for Marty Connolly? Can can Canei? I did it.
It’s actually a really odd spelling and I’ll tell you a really two second story about the spelling. So my heritage is West Island, the republic of, and my old man was pretty much born en route from getting out. His whole family got out of there after the war. Some brothers went to New York, some brothers came to Brisbane randomly, obviously I was in, my old man was in the Brisbane crew and the guys that went to New York, they had a thick Irish accent and no paperwork. They just literally rock up on a boat to the entry point in New York and they said, what’s your name? And they went, can. And they just spelt them. Connolly gave ’em more paperwork for Connolly. So all my rallies in the US are just Connolly. Yeah, right. Because that’s how they got just brought processed.
You took the traditional cane. So that bogans like me, mispronouncing time. I’m glad you’re
Own. So it’s easy for someone to make a mistake isn’t my book.
Look, I’m loving life at the moment. It’s been really awesome. I growing eugenic and then also of setting it free into mantle so that it continue to grow because we were hitting a ceiling and now it’s great seeing it continuing to grow as part of the broader mantle group. I think in the coming, I think about my life in decades, like the EY decade, the genic decade, I think the next decade I’d love to get more into the data analytics in healthcare tech. So that might be also growing mantle groups offering into that space, but also helping build businesses in that space. I love the healthcare industry, passionate about it. And I also really like data tech.
Healthcare industry is not going anywhere. It’s only going to grow. Right. And same with data and ai, it’s also not going anywhere.
Yeah. And I think that it can help. They can help one another. I think there probably isn’t enough health and enough data and tech in health
Right now. Probably agree with that. Marty, thanks for coming in, sharing insights. Really appreciate it. Thanks
Guys. It’s been.