An interview with Damian Kimmelman of Duedil
What is Duedil?
Most data providers only focus on public companies, like Tesco or Barclays. We’re creating a market for private businesses. There’s a lot of data out there, but it’s not accessible. We sit between the data providers and the market; we aggregate all of that information, and then make it more useful. Most businesses in our area charge to access this data, but we see the value elsewhere. Data is like raw ingredients, and it only becomes information when it’s visualized, when it’s searchable, and when it’s accessible.
I was a small business owner and while I really liked my accountant, I would nod off whenever he started talking numbers to me. It wasn’t a narrative, so it wasn’t interesting. I love business but I hate numbers, which is totally crazy because I deal with data. My aim now is to make data digestible.
How do you find the right people?
There’s no real way of hiring other than getting out there, getting PR, and having really great challenges. I always look for two things: one is attention to detail, the other is proactivity. Every single person we’ve hired has stood out from the pack. We never really hire for a particular position because startups, like everything, change. We hire people who are proactive, because that also means that if times get tough, they’ll figure out a way of fixing it.
Has your background in design helped you get Duedil to where it is today?
I don’t really have a background in anything. I’m a jack of all, and master of none. After University I started an agency, and looking back, everything I did, I did wrong. I’ve been pretty successful in everything other than that, but that was a massive fail. I wanted to learn everything, so I decided we would be a full service agency. It was totally unmanageable. The day I decided to close the agency down was the day I thought of Duedil. I started up a few months later.
"We never really hire for a particular position because startups, like everything, change."
What’s your advice to London-based entrepreneurs looking for VC money?
It’s a lot more difficult in Europe than in the US. If you have a social product, just go to the US. Our product is really geared towards the UK and towards Europe, because the data’s here, the problem’s here, and I argue that more European startups should really focus on issues that are Euro-centric. I would say that it’s much easier to do rounds with Angels than it is to do VC rounds. VC rounds are always going to be longer than expected. We had a lot of offers and it still took six months. It’s not easy! You have to build a relationship with partners, and they have to have known you for some time before signing on the dotted line.
Why are you proud to be Built in London?
London is an awesome place to have a startup, and I think that it’s very much on the move. It’s never going to be San Francisco, but it doesn’t have to be. There are multiple capitals. People have to realise that there are certain types of startups that are really good for certain areas. One of the biggest benefits of the UK is GMT. It’s the best place for any startup that’s trying to go global, perhaps not a social product, but money transfers and financial services. I don’t think people talk about that enough; they’re like, it’s the Internet, it can be anywhere.
"We’ve had offers to be bought out several times, and we’ve said no, because it’s a lot of fun."
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about starting up?
Become an Intern. I wish I had. I would have saved myself about two hundred grand. Find a startup that has just got funding, or is in a moment of huge transformation. If you look at the people in Silicon Valley who have had multiple successes, they largely come from these mafias, like the PayPal mafia, or the YouTube mafia - companies with massive growth over a very short period of time. These people were able to experience everything, every good and bad decision. I don’t regret doing 90% of the stupid shit that I normally do, but I do regret not doing an internship like that.
Any other big regrets?
I’ve been kicked out of loads of schools. I have no regrets about that particularly because I think it was transformative, but I don’t think I really took advantage of a lot of opportunities that I was given. I wanted to do it on my own and in hindsight, I wish that I’d been a bit more modest. Perhaps I would’ve seen how to do things rather than make the mistakes on my own.
What’s next for Duedil?
As cheesy as it sounds, I want to change the world and do something really exciting. We’ve had offers to be bought out several times, and we’ve said no, because it’s a lot of fun.
This year is about users, and branding, and building the brand. How can we make it sexy? We’re a B2B company but it should feel like a consumer product. I also want to continue to grow. In my last company I grew too quickly, and I’d like to do this one properly.
Anything else that you want to share with our readers?
I want our brand to be reassuringly expensive, even though we’re free. That builds trust. You say I come from a design background, but I don’t see a difference between what I’m doing now and what I was doing before, because to me, trust is the social capital of business. We’re trying to create a market, and it all revolves around trust. If I can trust you to pay me, then we can do business really quickly. The more information you have on something, the more you’re able to predict, and the more you’re able to trust.
You can follow Damian Kimmelman on Twitter @duediler