The Data Founder Story: Joining as a Cofounder after being an Advisor
By David Jayatillake
🏗 Data Founder: David Jayatillake
🏢 Product: Avora
This is the story of how I became a Cofounder at Avora, an AI-powered business observability platform. Avora enables businesses to respond, quickly and with context, to unexpected changes in their metrics.
I've been a Data practitioner for about 12 years, working across industries such as eCommerce and FinTech. I've worked heavily in Analytics Engineering and Analytics, but broadly in Data.
During my time at Worldpay, I led a small team focused on building a system to predict our main metrics. This system was also able to explain why our metrics changed vs the past or forecasting. It was a long and expensive process and involved me building a team to build, deploy and maintain it. Whilst it was successful and well-used, it wasn't generic, but was highly focused on a specific part of the payments system. A generic version of this system could be hugely valuable in Analytics: this is Root Cause Analysis.
This team was the first analytical team I built. I have since led and built multi-discipline data teams at Elevate Credit, Lyst and Ruby Labs.
How I first came across Avora
Whilst at Elevate Credit, I attended Snowflake's first ever in-person conference in London. One of the presentations I attended was by Avora, around their then full-stack BI solution.
At the time I felt it could be of real benefit to Elevate Credit, as we had a very small data team with limited resources. The modern data stack did not exist yet, with even Fivetran being a scrappy startup at this point.
I managed to catch up with the presenter from Avora, and exchanged contacts to learn more later. This led to Avora coming in to Elevate to pitch, with Ricky Thomas, my now cofounder, leading. The boardroom was hostile, with people casting aspersions about whether Avora could work! Ricky managed to pitch well about the platform and team and we later signed with Avora.
As a customer of Avora, I was always impressed by the team and delivery. I was glad to have brought them in during my time at Elevate. Ricky and I stayed in touch and regularly discussed new features and trends in the industry.
I started advising Avora soon after this, on product features and UX. I was one of the first to see the Anomaly Detection (AD) and Root Cause Analysis (RCA) products pre-launch. For the last couple of years, I've advised Avora on further enhancements to these new products, which are the basis of the NewCo I have joined.
Avora has needed a metrics layer, in order to provide AD and RCA on metric trends. This has been an in-house metrics layer that is simple but powerful for customer needs; allowing for metric relationships and quick time to value. At the end of 2021, I had been guiding them towards adopting the dbt metrics layer. I believed then, and even more firmly now, that shared and standardised metrics layers will be widely adopted in the future. The potential for serving a wider customer base, and reducing onboarding friction, is a huge opportunity for Avora.
In parallel to my advisory role, I also acted as a customer reference for Venture Capital funds. This has turned out to be very useful, given, as a cofounder, I'm currently speaking to VCs to raise a seed round!
At the end of last year, it wasn't the right time to join Avora for either me or Avora. My personal circumstances changed at the start of March, and with good customer acquisition and signs of product-market fit, the same was true for Avora!
I have joined as cofounder to lead us towards:
integrations with metrics layers
technical partnerships in the Modern Data Stack
content and community engagement
I believe there is a missing tactical layer in how data serves the strategic apex:
At the strategic layer, we now have tools enabling self-serve metrics and curated analytical research. This is difficult to automate without the advent of AGI! It's this consultative work that really fulfils humans in a data team, and empowers them to impact their org.
At the tactical layer of the apex, we have an opportunity to augment decisions that need to be made faster. These need human input, but with the advantage of AI-powered context and monitoring. This is where Avora fits in.
At the operational layer, decisions need to be made in their thousands and millions daily as well as possibly in real-time.
Believe in what you do
Avora is a great opportunity for me to be a cofounder, with a level of safety in having an experienced cofounder alongside me. More importantly, I really believe the time is right for our products to shine, and that they are sorely needed:
The Modern Data Stack is enabling a level of data maturity that wasn't possible even two years ago
Data consumers are hungry for richer actionable insights
The scale of complexity and change in data mean data teams are struggling using BI tools, to do the workload Avora automates
There is a real problem in the industry in terms of a shortage of engineers and data people to build internal teams
I believe our products help fulfil some of these needs. We have the foundational team to win, and delivering on our roadmap will help our customers win even bigger with data.
Don't take it from us! You can try Avora for free, no-strings-attached, for 14 days. Sign up on our website.