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Segna gets Silicon Valley investment

- Data wrangling startup Segna is today announcing they’ve raised seed funding from US startup accelerator Y Combinator, following investment from Hillfarrance Venture Capital, Icehouse Ventures and Australian-based fund, CP Ventures.

Segna uses machine learning to aggregate and clean data from multiple sources in under a minute. Its software platform helps businesses of all sizes unlock value from their data faster and more easily by automating the time-consuming, administrative tasks of curating and organising it.

In January, Segna will begin Y Combinator’s three-month startup accelerator programme, which also provides $US125,000 seed investment, and culminates in a Demo Day where between US$1-5 million dollars is raised in the weeks following.

Segna is among 1.5% of startups selected from over 30,000 other applicants who apply to Y Combinator each year, and they now join a prestigious list of alumni, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Twitch, Stripe, Reddit, and CoinBase. Only three other New Zealand start-ups are understood to have previously completed the Y Combinator programme since it launched in March 2005.

This is the second startup for Segna co-founders Will Haringa and Aryan Lobie, who’ve raised $880,000 since launching the platform 16 months ago. Will also co-founded Zenno Astronautics, winners of the University of Auckland Velocity challenge in 2018, and Aryan developed the first scientific satellite that launched with RocketLab last November. He then went on to work as a data scientist at smart cow collar company Halter.

The new funds are being used to expand the team and further develop the Segna platform, which the co-founders say can unify and restructure data streams hundreds of times faster than legacy methods.

Will says businesses want simple, timely, actionable insights from their data but many are not equipped with the tools, expertise and resources to make it happen: “We are on a mission to democratise access to data, to break it away from being an arcane art for experts housed within large enterprise, to a being simple, intuitive and affordable for smaller businesses. And we can do this for businesses at warp speed.”

A beta version of Segna is being used by a wide range of small and medium-sized businesses, which include accounting and financial firms, an online retailer, and a number of local startups. Businesses will pay a monthly subscription fee when the product is officially launched next year.

The World Economic Forum predicts that 133 million new jobs will emerge in 2022 from the field of data and artificial intelligence, and Segna believes that a massive surge in demand for these roles can disadvantage smaller businesses, which might not be able to afford them.

It’s estimated 80% of a data analyst’s time is spent being a ‘data caretaker’ - cleaning it up and getting it into the right shape - leaving only 20% time to derive value through analysis.

Will says the use of machine learning not only expedites Segna’s data wrangling, but also continuously improves the way data is presented based on the users’ previous actions, helping them uncover new insights with unprecedented accuracy.

“More businesses - big and small - are realising that the true value of their enterprise is in the data they collect, not just the sales they generate,” says Rob Vickery, Managing Partner of Hillfarrance Venture Capital. “At Hillfarrance, an AI-focused early-stage venture capital fund, we believe that Aotearoa New Zealand entrepreneurs are creating the next wave of AI innovation, and Segna is one of the leaders of that charge!”

Icehouse Ventures CEO Robbie Paul says: “Many of the startups we back have been led by young founders with extraordinary ambition and intellectual firepower, such as Halter, Sharesies, Dawn Aerospace, Partly, and Astrix. Will and Aryan are equally exceptional and we are excited to back them alongside Y Combinator.”

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