Duedil (due diligence) is a free-to-access database that brings together a wide range of company information in a simple interface. The platform — which aggregates data from sources including Companies House and credit ratings — allows users to search a business’s latest accounts, shareholder structure and the background of company directors. The London-based company was founded by New Yorker Damian Kimmelman, an entrepreneur with two businesses under his belt: a peer-to-peer Mahjong platform and a digital agency We Are VI. Wired.co.uk caught up with him.
Founder: Damian Kimmelman
Launched: April 2011
Investment: seed-funding from Passion Capital. Angel investment from Wonga’s Jonty Hurwitz, Sherry Coutu, Tom Hulme, Denis Raeburn, and Federico Pirzio-Biroli.
What problem do you solve?
Ninety-nine percent of all businesses in Europe are small- and medium-sized enterprises, which contribute more than 50 percent of total value added to the EU economy, yet there is a lack of accessible information on them. This manifests itself in a number of different ways, such as a $250 billion shortfall in business lending. This is due to fact that this information is siloed in businesses and companies.
Current data providers have an inefficient business model, using direct sales teams to try and sell the right piece of data to the right person at the right time. It’s like trying to sell one piece of the puzzle without knowing what the rest of the puzzle looks like. They spend on average 35-50 percent of their operating budget on sales and marketing and generally only address about 20 percent of the available market. By opening up the base data and giving it away for free, we create the opportunity of addressing the other 80 percent of the market and charging for valued added services.
How do you plan to make money?
We operate on the freemium model — we’ll be rolling out premium services soon and have just launched our business information API.
Who do you view as your competitors?
Several companies like Bizzy. Indirectly we share similarities with companies from business information providers D&B and Bloomberg, to Salesforce. However, we view all of these companies as potential partners and many of them already are.
Where did you get the idea for the business?
I got the inspiration for Duedil while I was at university doing an internship for a hedge fund. While carrying out risk assessments for credit default swaps, it became clear to me that the lack of transparency in business was damaging to the economy. A few years later I decided to launch Duedil.
What’s the biggest misconception about your business?
People wonder why aren’t we charging and assume there must be a catch to it. We haven’t proved yet why the information we give away should be free, but we will.
Can you express in some tangible terms how the business has developed?
We have tripled the size of the team in the last twelve months and will be expanding dramatically as soon as we have our new office. The average number of members we are signing up to Duedil each month has risen by 507 percent in the last six months. We have users from 75 of the FTSE 100 companies, 55 percent of our members are Director level and above, and the average time on site is 35 minutes. Over 200 companies have requested access to our recently launched API.
What has been the most challenging time for the company?
Before we launched Duedil – people did not take us seriously in the business information space. The number of times people did not bother emailing us back was scary.
How did you overcome that?
We worked our hardest to create a product that people were impressed with when we launched.
Do you have any advice for dealing with potential investors?
You need to understand their motivations. Understand what the problem areas are in your market. Read Venture Hacks. A lot of investors do this as profession, and you’re probably only going to do this once in your life. Also look out for possible conflicts of interest with potential investors.
What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Picasso said: “Good artists copy, but great artists steal.”
Which business person do you most admire and why?
Herb Kelleher, the co-founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines. He didn’t try to reinvent the wheel and wasn’t ashamed of taking other people’s ideas. He took them and made them his own. He made it cheaper and more convenient to fly, and built an airline that now carries more passengers in the US than any other.
What is your biggest barrier to future success?
Too many opportunities and focusing on the right ones.