Firm speeds data to cloud with help of Angel Investor

Jason Gleason and his business partner Nigel Thomas had that “eureka” moment for their company, Eight Wire, when they were working in the salt mines of IT consulting.

“The work we were doing was a very manual process. It was the IT equivalent to digging a ditch. It was frustrating,” Gleason says.

One data warehouse project they worked on required them to integrate data from 40 different sources, such as emails and different databases, with each feed requiring so many lines of code it was just one big error factory. As each information stream changed, so did the rules for sorting it, which meant a lot of very dull manual work, Gleason says.

So Thomas and Gleason left their “safe jobs” to build some technology to solve the problem and speed the integration of big data to the cloud. Less than two years and nearly half a million dollars later, Eight Wire is filling a vacuum in the cloud market.

“When we started we were surprised there was nothing like what we wanted to do out there. We saw startups that were raising tens of millions of dollars overseas for what were really just small, incremental changes to system integration. That was eye-opening,” Gleason says.

Thomas and Gleason have more than 35 years’ IT experience between them, spanning programming and management roles, where they oversaw teams of developers, but they knew they lacked the business acumen they would need as incipient entrepreneurs so they nurtured their idea at the Creative HQ business incubator in Wellington.

They attracted the attention of Wellington-based, tech-savvy (early stage) angel investor Darryl Lundy, the former chief financial officer of New Zealand tech success story GreenButton.

GreenButton specialised in high-performance cloud computing for clients which required huge amounts of data but didn’t want to invest in their own hardware. Lundy helped oversee GreenButton’s rise from rapid-growth startup to its acquisition by Microsoft in May last year.

“What these guys were doing was a similar story to GreenButton so I really liked what they were doing,” Lundy says.

Eight Wire helps companies move data, inexpensively, without the need to know how to code. It automates all the steps that once cost Gleason and Thomas hours of valuable time.

Tables of information are copied from old sources, moved to a database in the cloud and checked for common errors automatically in minutes instead of manually in hours.

Lundy said there were other tools available previously, but these were difficult to use, even for IT staff.

“Eight Wire is a simple solution for what doesn’t have to be a big problem.” Lundy has invested in about a dozen companies.

“Top of my list is to find good people who you think will take an idea and make a success out of it. Spend a good amount of time with them, ask them questions … and see how the process goes.”

Eight Wire secured $400,000 from a group of angel investors, including Lundy, last year. The capital will take the company through the next 12 months as Gleason and Thomas build up clients, attract system-integrator partners and establish an office in Dallas, Texas. The company has five employees and is expecting to appoint a sixth shortly.

Gleason says this year is about gaining traction in the US and Australia as well as NZ. “The capital we’ve raised allows us to finally press the gas on things. It’s very exciting.”

• Produced in conjunction with the Angel Association of New Zealand.

First published on nzherald.co.nz 19 February 2015

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