Kraken IM has built a collaboration platform to help engineers communicate and analyse their data. Ian Cornwell, CEO of Kraken, talks to BQ about all things Innovation ahead of the company's appearance at Innovation Showcase at this year's Venturefest Tees Valley.
Describe your business in no more than 100 words
Engineering projects, by their nature, are complex. Finding the right information amongst all this complexity can be a challenge. Kraken has built an engineering collaboration platform that collects both the data and the communications during a project. This makes it easier to not only find your information, but to understand it.
There are some great tools for the information but they all neglected that the really important decisions were made by people, and then those decisions are lost. We thought someone is going to solve this, why not us?
What prompted you to enter the innovation showcase?
We’re a start-up company and really not very old but it’s amazing what we’ve achieved in such a short space of time. The area we work in maybe isn’t the coolest but it is one with a large global market. We’d really like to tell everyone about the cool things we’ve done and the cooler things we want to do.
Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.
We’ve developed a software platform called Halcyon, which captures information throughout the project lifecycle to create a digital asset.
Halycon captures all the data from the teams working on the project in a collaboration platform. It also collects not just the data that the teams produce, but also the communications that the teams make.
65% of mega projects – construction projects which cost more than a billion dollars – fail
56% of project risk is directly attributed to poor communications
15% of accidents can be attributed to poor information
By collecting, analysing and distributing this data, Halcyon is able to reduce many of these risks. Halcyon also has the ability to learn and lets users ask simple questions to get answers without needing a complex interface.
How would you describe that innovation to your grandparents?
You know when you got that new tele and you couldn’t work the remote and it took you ages to figure it out? Well imagine the tele was an oil rig and you didn’t have the instructions for that. We help people find their instructions and instead of missing bargain hunt we try and stop them having a multi-million-dollar shutdown. We also use the power of robots to make this easier.
What are the best and worst parts of trying to be innovative in your business?
The best part is being master of your own destiny, you can decide as a team where your priorities lie and do some off the wall things. The worst part is finding the time to explore and realise all the ideas we have.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
We’re a start-up company from the North East and we’re trying to sell into huge enterprise customers around the world. That is a super hard thing to do for any new company, corporates hate risk and take an age to decide anything.
Where do you get support and advice to help you run your business?
We’ve been incredibly lucky with the people we get support from; organisations like Digital City, Ignite, Launchpad at Teesside University, all of whom we can call on for help. We also have some unbelievable advisors who are part of the team, they bring amazing experience, and the fact that we can pick up the phone and ask for help at any time is incredible.
What does being chosen for the innovation showcase mean to you?
It’s a huge deal to be recognised and a huge opportunity, if Ian’s beard wasn’t so big you’d probably see him blush.
Where do you see your company in five years’ time?
We’d really like to be the market leader when it comes to collaboration for engineering projects, because our product can learn as it goes it’s going to be a lot smarter as well. We’d also love to be servicing a global market from a base in Teesside but with offices in lots of countries.
What would you tell businesses who are hoping to be more innovative?
Don’t wait for change to make you irrelevant and don’t expect that innovation is something you can measure, you might have 100 terrible ideas before one that’s worth something.
Listen to your potential customers but watch them more (they often say one thing and do another).
Don’t get frustrated with the number or amount of reasons people use not to adopt a new technology, no matter how ridiculous they sound and how many times you hear them.