ProcureTechSTARS with Brandon Daniels, CEO of Exiger, a platform revolutionizing the way corporations, government agencies and banks manage risk and compliance in their third-parties, supply chains and customers through its software and tech-enabled solutions.
During the conversation, Brandon discussed forced labour, brittle supply chains, 31 million data sources, panoplies, trailblazers and theoretical physics.
1. What’s Exiger’s mission?
Exiger’s mission is lofty but simple. It is to make the world a safer and more transparent place for our customers to succeed.
We believe that transparency and true clarity within your supply chain allows you to make the right decisions about the companies that you work with.
We believe that, at the point at which companies have transparency, they will choose the companies, partners and customers that best match who they want to be in the market. Since we believe that people want to stamp out forced labour, decarbonise our world, and inspire innovation in markets, transparency is a big step of the way there.
“We believe that transparency and true clarity within your supply chain allows you to make the right decisions about the companies that you work with.”
The other thing about transparency is that it also reveals risk. Look what happened with COVID. We pulled back the veil on our supply chains, and saw that they were brittle and fraught with risks. We had to do something about it. We believe that when you have insight into risk, you can embed that within decision-making. You can then have higher risk appetite and risk tolerance, because you’ve got it as a stated corollary to your brand that you’re going to make better decision-making faster. You’re going to reduce costs for your organisation and you’re going to increase resilience because the speed and certainty with which make decisions will be better and more effective.
That’s our mission, and that’s the belief that’s set in building our technology.
2. What differentiates Exiger from its competitors?
The first element is that our technology is truly unique. We built an open-source platform that does not require indexing, constant maintenance, constant data normalisation or data warehousing in order to be effective. It quite literally reinvents the way that you manage structured and unstructured data.
If an article was published 15 seconds ago and you run our technology, it will run a broad keyword search – on a product, an entity, a market, a person – and grab from over 16,000 structured sources (which is one of the largest data networks in the world) and over 31 million unstructured sources. Then it will create a real-time indexed 15 table graph dataset that outlines your ownership on those companies or has the associations related to a market, or any sort of commercial activity on the product market entity or person that you’re looking at. After that, it goes through 205 risk classifiers and biographical and relationship information classifiers.
“It quite literally reinvents the way that you manage structured and unstructured data.”
On the fly, it can tell you who your current suppliers are, who your current partners are, and your current customers in the open source world, which is a huge volume of data.
The second thing that differentiates us is that we’re practitioners. Rather than use technology that has been applied for technology’s sake, we’re all risk managers. I spent 20 years in risk management. I was part of the investigations team that helped to overhaul the life sciences industries in the mid and early 2000s.
So, in terms of our practitioners and those risk classifications and relationship classifications, they’re high-precision because we have a low tolerance for false positives. Secondly, they’re informed by the largest IPO due diligence team in the world.
Our risk scoring has now been deployed by over 40 US government agencies. It has been accepted and adopted across the US federal government, and then it has also been deployed to over 200 of the Fortune 1000. Our risk model allows you to apply a risk appetite, and then to live underneath that risk appetite, which I think is a differentiating point.
We have a complete panoply of data-rich scoring algorithms, and there’s so much data that one of the key risk scores is, ‘If you can’t find something in Exiger, then it doesn’t exist.’ It’s a product dictator.
“And so, I think those three things really differentiate us – our open source technology, the fact that we’re practitioners, and the fact that we’ve come up with a resilient way to score entities and to determine risk appetite.”
3. What have been the most significant milestones in the Exiger journey so far?
We originally got into this through third party risk management, and at that point, the most important parts of third party risk management were cyber, anti-bribery and anti-corruption. Back in 2018 – when we were working with one of our flagship and first federal government agencies – we had to decide whether to expand that, or to work on the supply chain risk problem set.
First, we had to build new datasets, then we had to learn how to normalise new information. We had to also build out new risk categories, like operational risk, health and safety. It was a big lift to meet that agency’s requirements and to really tackle the supply chain risk management challenge. But we decided to take the bet, even though supply chain had not yet become the focal point that it is in today’s world.
In 2020, as the COVID pandemic unfolded, we were able to help the federal government find billions of dollars of product to send to the healthcare frontlines, and eliminate $500mn of fraud, waste and abuse – all because we had made that decision in 2018. So that really changed our destiny and our trajectory.
“Then in 2020, as the COVID pandemic unfolded, we were able to help the federal government find billions of dollars of product to send to the healthcare frontlines, and eliminate $500mn of fraud, waste and abuse.”
4. How do you make strategic decisions?
There are three things I look at. The first is either the market that we’re entering, the use case that we’re developing, or the way our technology is being used. How we can enter the market and provide value to the people that are trying to tackle this challenge today?
The second thing is, when we go into that market and we look at it, we ask, are we adding new value? Can we add value today, but also, is the value new? Are there already people that are doing what we’re doing?
We found that this is key in a crowded market. We looked at using our technology to build into the financial services transaction monitoring space, but we ultimately decided not to. There are lots of companies that are already solving that need. And although we think we could add value, we’re not sure that it’s creative to the existing process.
The question is one of compromise – what are we doing for our existing customers by going into this space? Will we compromise our existing customers? And, are we taking more risk than our investors or our employees would if they were in our leadership team? So that’s the final question – are we in a position where we’re creating opportunities that align with our employees’ willingness to take risks?
5. What do you look for in the perfect customer?
Someone who’s a trailblazer. I love people that are looking to make change or make things better, someone with a sort of engineering, continuous improvement mindset. If somebody’s got that type of orientation you know right off the bat, you are going to have someone that will make you better. They’ll challenge and help you to actually address the need.
The second thing is, we traditionally deal with customers that are either at scale or trying to scale right. That desire for growth creates innovative ways that we can use our technology.
Lastly, we deal with companies, entities and with governments that believe in free and fair markets and are looking to make the world a safer and better place. We want to work with those that want to do good around the world, even if it’s not necessarily part of their core business – even if they make, say, adhesive tape every day. We want people who see the benefit of fair, free, open and democratic markets.
“That desire for growth creates innovative ways that we can use our technology.”
6. What are the foundations of a great team?
One of the things that I focus on in building our team is complementary skills.
I say to our executive committee: all of us are partners. Persuasion, influence or ideas should lead us, not people. And good ideas should win. And so, I think we’re all partners, and I think we come to the table with ideas, and good ideas should survive.
Additionally, our leadership team has to lead with empathy. When I became CEO of Exiger, one of the first things I said to the team was, ‘We are going to lead with empathy. We’re going to give the benefit of the doubt. That’s how we’re going to change and morph and create a culture that’s sustainable.’
As the CEO, I think of myself as the Chief Support Officer. I am there to help you get the resources you need to accomplish your goals. Of course, I should be helping you to find out what those goals are, to prioritise the things that are key to the wider mission. But then, I’ve got to go out and make sure that, when this company makes a bet, we’re not making that bet in half measures, while supporting our teams fully and in a way that’s sustainable. Because if we’re not, we’re sort of robbing from ourselves.
7. As we emerge from COVID, what will you be doing differently?
Everyone reordered or rearchitected their lives during COVID, and they had new routines with their friends and family. So we try to honour that.
“I’ve got to go out and make sure that, when this company makes a bet, that we’re not making that bet in half measures, while supporting our teams fully and in a way that’s sustainable. Because if we’re not, we’re sort of robbing from ourselves.”
We’ve moved from a largely in-office community, to establishing a hybrid work environment of trust, respect and accountability. We also have had to develop new ways of collaboration, and identify ways in which we can create a culture that doesn’t demand us all being in the office or getting pizza at 11pm. That’s been fundamentally more difficult than it was pre-COVID.
We’re just being more intentional. For example, previously the CEO of a company might have given a talk once a month, or might have gone out and met employees once a quarter. But now, I’m very intentionally – as is our entire leadership team – making sure that we’re engaging and interacting individually and at a small group level on a more frequent basis.
I feel more connected to the people in my organisation now than I was pre-pandemic. But I think while there have been positives, there have also been negatives, because if you haven’t cultivated and put time into the culture, it can be easy to lose.
8. What is Exiger doing for the planet?
I think the biggest thing that we do is show people where they have to make choices.
Take cobalt as a key example. Cobalt mining in the Congo accounts for around 70% of global production, and more of our global cobalt mine production than the next 50 countries combined.
So the decision is not ‘Oh, where else can we mine cobalt from?’, it’s, ‘How do we invest in and change the infrastructure? How do we change the incentives? How do we make it so that compliance allows you to get more business, and allows you to get higher prices?’ The thing that we’re doing is helping people face these challenges, and providing them with greater transparency into what those answers and alternatives are, so that we can tackle the problems correctly. Because it can’t be a blunt instrument.
1. What is your favourite book or blog?
Richard Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces. It is a book about theoretical physics, which breaks down these big concepts pretty simply.
2. Who is your favourite inspirational business leader?
I love Steve Jobs’ speeches, because he often reflected on mistakes. Steve was great at teaching lessons as he talked.
3. What is your favourite piece of technology (other than your own)?
That’s a tough one, but I love Slack. I just love the collaboration in the community. I mean, I’ve even seen people using it as opposed to texting on their phone!
4. What is your favourite cocktail?
I stopped drinking 11 years ago, but I do have a mocktail called Ghia (particularly the lime and salt flavour). It’s this fabulous all-natural drink that has very little added sugar.
5. What’s your favourite way to celebrate success?
With my family. I have the best and most supportive family I could imagine.
1. Before you enter a new market, carefully consider your positioning and whether you can add value.
2. When considering new areas of advancement or investment, weigh up the level of risk involved, and ask yourself whether your team and customers would themselves take on that risk level.
3. Supply chain is about transparency, and using insights to make more responsible choices that are reflective of your brand values.
4. Transparency also enables teams to address the biggest supply chain challenges head-on. With greater transparency, you can understand what the best-fit answers and alternatives are to these challenges, and tackle the problems correctly.
5. Choosing to work with trailblazers is key to infusing your operations with that same pioneering approach.
6. To manage the shift to hybrid working environments, leadership teams need to be intentional about engaging and interacting with staff – both individually and at a small group level – on a more frequent basis.
7. Invest in your company culture and maintain it with care, because it is easy to lose.
Exiger is enabling corporations, government agencies and banks to evolve their risk management and compliance strategies. This support spans third-party relationships, supply chains and CRM, through Exiger’s comprehensive range of software and tech-enabled solutions, including award-winning AI technology.
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