Big Data Startup Antuit Raises $56 Million Led By Goldman Sachs

It isn’t often that we hear that an 18-month-old startup raised $56 million, and it’s even less likely when the company is based in Asia — but that’s exactly the case for Antuit, a big data startup that is headquartered in Singapore.

Goldman Sachs led the $56 million round, which included participation from existing investor Zodius Capital, an India-based VC firm that put $3 million into Antuit in 2013.

Antuit provides big data analytics and consultancy for a range of different business. It counts more than 20 companies on its client roster, including eight Fortune 500 firms. In more basic terms, the startup takes big data and statistical analysis and applies it in a practical way to help businesses make smarter decision. For example, it might assist a multinational planning its entry into a new country, or advise a consumer brand preparing the sale of a new product.

The difference between Antuit and other big data firms is that the company offers more than just access to complex systems and models. Instead, it operates on a more partner-like basis, working with clients to structure data and intelligence, analyze it, and then model it based on the immediate needs of the business.

“Essentially, we’re helping clients to create a value chain that progresses to insight and can be used to execute,” Antuit CEO Arijit Sengupta told TechCrunch. “We believe that we can do a lot for our customers because we stitch together all the components for big data.”

Though it is based in Singapore, Sengupta stressed that Antuit is a global company. It has offices in New York (via a 2013 acquisition), Seattle, Bangalore and Auckland, and Sengupta said its clients are mixed between North America and Asia.

Taking The Asia Opportunity

Startups targeting the U.S. generally tend to be based there, but ex-IBM exec Sengupta explained that Antuit adopted a “contrarian approach” to take advantage of opportunities in Asia.

“We were first to market here so we could get the benefit of being local to Asia, but we also recognized that we had to be in the U.S. too,” he explained.

Sengupta said the new capital will go towards expanding the Antuit business into Europe. He added that the company is looking for new acquisition opportunities and will consider partnership-based routes.

“We have fairly aggressive growth plans, M&A is part of that but not the only component to our expansions. We may work with clients also, and we could deploy resources [and expand our locations] with different kind of deals with customers,” he said.

The funding is about rapidly expanding the business’s footprint, and, in addition to new geographies, that also requires the right kind of hiring. Sengupta didn’t disclose how many staff Antuit has right now, but he is keen to add seasoned individuals, which he admitted means a hefty salary bill.

“To be disruptive one has to move fast, there is some risk in this [expensive approach], but we’ve been through this journey before and want to play the big game,” he said.

Additional plans for Antuit include developing data products in-house and working with universities to research new ways to interpret and analyze big data.

Tremendous Growth Potential

Goldman Sachs has invested in big data startups before, but this is its first such deal in Asia. Ankur Sahu, the co-head of private equity at Goldman Sachs in Asia, said that the firm believes “big data analytics can be the next wave of global services and… the market has tremendous growth potential.”

Sengupta said there was good chemistry between both sides and that the deal was concluded “smoothly.” He explained that the banking giant’s track record and experience scaling companies — not to mention expansive network — were major reasons for taking it on as an investor.

Antuit has largely existed under the radar in Asia, perhaps because of the nature of its business, but few startups in the region will raise larger rounds of funding in 2015. That’s likely to put the company on the map and also serve as a strong endorsement for Singapore as a base for global startups.