Data3 is a data/ artificial intelligence (AI)/ machine learning powerhouse/ Founded in 2017 by Helen Tanner, the business has since grown to a team of 6 people.

Answering 10 questions about Data3 for us is the founder Helen.

1. In your own words - what do you do?

We're a data lab and we help SMEs to improve their business performance using data.

We see business results improve by c. 10%, either by increasing sales through data-driven sales & marketing activity. Or by reducing costs through data-informed inefficiency-spotting.

For some clients, we create business dashboards. For others, we created advanced analytical models and predictive forecasts. For some, it's reported automation and data architecture design. Whatever it is - it's data, data, data.

2. What's the most exciting thing about what you're doing?

I believe every business decision should be data-driven or data-informed. The days of making decisions based on gut feel, or whoever shouts the loudest, should be over.

A data-powered business is a high performing business. That's what I believe. And that's why I do what I do. The problem is that most businesses lack the data skills in-house, so it's massively rewarding to transform a business' view of their data in just days or weeks and to see their reactions when we present their data back to them in exciting new ways. Call me a data geek, but that's as exciting as it gets for me.

3. What are you most proud of so far?

We're harnessing artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, predictive analytics and bringing it to SMEs. So we enable small businesses to use big business toys. I love SMEs. I believe that small biz should have access to the same insights as the big global brands.

Most SMEs, however, lack the data skills, data resources, budget and data experience. So there's this massive divide between the big corporates, with a massive wealth of data resources, and SMEs.

Coming from a family of SME business people, SMEs are in my blood. So I'm passionate about bringing data opportunities to small businesses, helping them to punch above their weight.

4. What have you found most difficult about being a startup?

As a solo founder, the first two years of setting up this business have been so incredibly hard. Unbelievably hard and far harder than I expected. I worked in the corporate world for 20 years and I thought that was hard... that was nothing!

Running a business, recruiting awesome people, winning clients, delivering for clients, retaining clients, managing cashflow... and knowing everyone's success is reliant on you making the right business decisions at the right time is TOUGH. But I'd never go back. I didn't come this far to only come this far.

5. What would you do differently if you started now?

I wouldn't change a thing. I've learnt so much from all of the mistakes I've made that I'd be weaker without them. But, to answer the question, I probably would have asked for help sooner.

I didn't join an accelerator or business support programme in the first year as I didn't know they existed. So that's the only thing I'd change - I'd ask for help sooner. I've found business owners to be incredibly open about sharing their experience and humble when sharing mistakes. I've learnt so much from this so I should have asked for help sooner.

6. Where do you think you'll be in 12 months?

We're moving from being a consultancy business to launching a new data-driven SaaS product to market in early 2020. So in 12 months, I want to be sharing product launch updates, seeing traction in the market and hearing positive client feedback.

This is a big 12 months for us - I'm ambitious. I want to grow the business fast. I want to build a business that means something. A business that makes an impact. A business that will help other businesses to grow. A business that delivers meaningful and long-lasting positive results.

7. What tools/people/services/organisations from the cluster have helped you most?

The Bristol data and tech scene is super active and growing. I'm a big fan of the meet-ups in Bristol, Exeter and surrounds. I've got to meet, listen to and sometimes present to, talented tech enthusiasts, innovators and generally disruptive (in a good way) types in these events.

The problem is that there are so many it's tricky to do them all justice but a big shout out to Product Tank, Data Scientist Meet-up, SW Founders Forum and many more.

8. What's the best thing about the Bristol & Bath tech cluster?

The Bristol startup scene is amazingly supportive - from SETsquared to NatWest Accelerator to Innovate2succeed to Business West, I've had invaluable help and support from more amazing people that I can possibly list here.

I'm so lucky to have such a great startup support network. It's been a crucial part of our success to date and it's prepared me for the tough challenges to come. 

9. Who will you be nominating for a SPARKie next year?

Goodness. I have so many people to choose from... too tricky to choose. Definitely a fellow SETsquared or NatWest Accelerator member as they're doing amazing things on a shoestring.

10. Where can we find out more about you?

I'm not a big social media fan... except for business purposes of course, when I'm all about sales & marketing & networking! So LinkedIn is the main place for me. Please connect with me, Helen Tanner, here.

Thanks to Helen for taking the time to talk to us about Data Cubed.