(Data)Crunch On This: Cary-based Startup Helps Companies Leverage Their Data

From right, DataCrunch CEO Zeydy Ortiz and President Rob Montalvo

In a world where data is collected everywhere, all the time and from everyone, companies who can harness it best often rise to the top. Practically anything can be collected as data—customer churn rate, production efficiency, employee productivity—and companies may be biting off more than they can chew when they attempt to understand it all. 

Luckily, Cary-based DataCrunch Lab is here to do the crunching for them.

Zeydy Ortiz, DataCrunch’s CEO and Co-Founder, had the idea to start the company while working as a performance engineer for IBM doing predictive analytics. While working on projects such as IBM’s Smarter Planet, she started understanding the power of data science and how businesses and organizations could harness the data that they collected. 

“I saw that the things I was doing with predictive analytics was basically what people needed in order to use their data more effectively,” Ortiz said. 

Ortiz, with her background in data science and artificial intelligence (AI), joined forces with husband and soon-to-be co-founder Rob Montalvo, who has a background in hardware and software engineering and also worked at IBM at the time. Together they launched DataCrunch Lab in 2016.

As a professional IT services company, DataCrunch has worked with seven businesses so far (plus two more on a pro-bono basis), providing AI solutions and machine learning (ML) algorithms to help businesses leverage their data. Through partnerships with companies such as IBM, RedHat, Lenovo and Arrow, DataCrunch integrates technology such as IoT (Internet of Things) and AI to provide clients with top-notch solutions.

Different industries have different data to crunch, and DataCrunch adapts their services to meet the specific needs of different customers. For a company that wants to lower production costs or improve production efficiency, DataCrunch can help predict future quality issues or asset-reliability risks that could affect operations. 

DataCrunch is currently participating in the RIoT Accelerator Program.

Ortiz and Montalvo have bootstrapped funding since launching in 2016 until, in July, they received an Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant of $150K from the Department of the Navy. The grant is to develop a product that will use sensor data to monitor a company’s remote assets and collect data such as temperature pressure and variation, then notify the customers when the asset needs repairs or maintenance. 

The DoN became interested in this specific project in response to mandatory stay-at-home orders that severely impacted the visibility of remote systems and the timely flow of information for industries that rely on inspection workers.  

“Rather than having to go out there and measure the temperature or humidity,” Ortiz said, “you would have it right here on your computer and you can see what’s happening and get the status of that system, which could be 3 kilometers away. The idea is to instrument an actual asset and take live measurements, display them, and make predictions with that.”

In addition to the product ultimately being used by the DoN and/or other governmental entities, DataCrunch will pursue a number of other commercial applications in asset-intensive industries such as energy, oil and gas, and transportation.

The DataCrunch team is currently focusing its efforts on a feasibility study to develop an MVP for the Navy. Ortiz said they hope to begin a pilot study by 2021 and have a viable product on the market by the end of next year. 

Dr. Ortiz said they are not looking for any venture funding at the moment, and instead focusing on making a Phase 2 funding proposal for the Navy and pursuing other similar funding opportunities.