In Stone Cast Episode #2, Paul McCarney sat down with Stone & Chalk CEO, Alex Scandurra, to discuss his $10.5M capital raise, growing a team, and building trust in the data space.

Above: Check out Stone Cast #2, featuring co-founder of Data Republic, Paul McCarney.

Paul McCarney is an experienced entrepreneur. He kickstarted his first venture at age 19, and his greatest success was with a company called Decide Interactive; a 120-odd person operation across 3 countries, optimising search engine marketing. They grew at breakneck pace and Paul successfully exited in four and a half years.

Data Republic marks Paul’s fifth venture and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. The Data Republic team, or the ‘Senate’ as they are favourably known, are building a trust framework and infrastructure for data-sharing.

Above: The ever-growing Data Republic team having their photo taken for the latest edition of Stone & Chalk’s Pitch Book.

Through his diverse experiences in various positions on boards and in management roles, Paul came to the realisation that if a company is only reflecting on the data it holds on its customers, it’s missing the bigger picture:

“[A company’s] customers spend most of their time with other companies; they don’t spend all their time with them. They live their lives, they have babies, they go swimming, they buy a new house, car, bike, scooter, whatever it is.”

This means that a 360 degree view for a company is only 5% of their customer’s life, unless they make the leap to exchanging data with other companies who are interacting with their customers in other domains. But when Paul tried to undertake such a data exchange, he became frustrated because the process of exchange takes too long and valuable insights can be missed.

“It’s a bit of technical problem, but it’s mostly a legal and a commercial problem. The actual analytic part might take a month at tops, but the actual negotiation, legal and risk management discussions might take 6–12 months.”

The idea for Data Republic grew out of Paul’s belief that when it comes down to it, there is no difference between data and money, and yet we conceptualise the two very differently:

“If I own a shop and you put your credit card into a little machine and I sell you a mobile phone, as the vendor I trust that there’s going to be money that comes from that little bit of plastic and ends up in my bank account.

And that trust just doesn’t exist in data.

There’s no infrastructure for data, there’s no trust in people exchanging data. And then I thought: what’s the difference between money and data?

There’s none, really.”

Paul’s recognition of this gap in the market was shared by Danny Gilligan, who is the co-founder of Westpac’s Reinventure Group. Paul and Danny decided to put some money behind the idea in order to angel fund it, and thus Data Republic was born.

The first step was building the legal framework, and the team can proudly say that they’ve now built the technology to manage the governance and process of exchange whereby people opt in — whether you’re a user of the data, contributor of the data, or a partner who wants to build a product or data insight for your customers — and you can understand, from a one page terms sheet, what your liabilities and warranties will be.

Data Republic, having signed a number of deals over the last year, continues to work on building trust in the space and making exchanges of sensitive information safe and easily manageable.

“We don’t own any of the data; we’re like an Airbnb for data. We manage the governance of it. We make sure it doesn’t fall foul of ACCC or insider trading or unethical or unwarranted use or what is reasonably expected by the consumer. Ultimately what we regulate, and what the data contributors are able to regulate on our platform is the permitted use of a data exchange.”

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