Mike Davis: A Big Data Giant in Kentucky
Kentucky is well known for several things like horses, bourbon, and basketball, but you probably would never guess that one of the most influential big data companies in the United States, and world for that matter, is right here in Kentucky. For Middle Tech’s 100th episode, Evan and Logan sat down with the Co-founder and CEO of Appriss, Mike Davis. Appriss, a Louisville-based big data company that describes their services as “Knowledge for Good”, utilizes big data to help everyday citizens all over the US by tracking drug trafficking, fraud, and other forms of criminal activity we see happen every day. They are also using big data to help healthcare and retail businesses become more efficient. Like every great startup story, it begins with recognizing and solving a problem. This one is “a story for our time.”
The story starts after Mike and his Co-founder Yung Nguyen - the details about how Yung got to America as a refugee is amazing, so take a listen to the episode for those details - met at a small company and realized they were both entrepreneurial. The two of them studied computer telephony which began putting telephones and computers together to enhance communication through the internet. After studying how this technology could be used, a shocking news story broke that inspired them to build a business. A young woman had been murdered by a man fresh out of jail with a history of abuse. The man had attacked her previously, and upon his release, decided to kill her on her 21st birthday. If she had known he had been released, she might have been able to take necessary precautions, but she didn’t.
To solve this problem and bring transparency to the criminal justice system, they built a solution that tracked criminals in and out of jail in order to notify the public and those concerned about the status of a criminal. The solution was to allow people concerned with their safety to receive a phone call that the person of interest has been released from jail. This powerful solution was just the beginning of Appriss' journey to use knowledge for good. They have since tracked 95% of all criminals in and out of the justice system, they have reduced methamphetamine use in the US by 87%, and they are tracking 85% of all opioid prescriptions and patients in order to decrease the illegal use of that drug. Amazing!
All of that data for good has led to some amazing business growth and success as well. Appriss is now a company with close to 400 employees and is on track to do over $200 million in revenue. Mike has gone on to be a two-time winner of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award; he was awarded the prestigious Paul H. Chapman Award by the Foundation for Improvement of Justice; he was awarded the US Congressional Crime Victims Award in recognition of his work on behalf of crime victims throughout the country; and, in 2019, Mike was inducted into the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.
For those interested in technology and entrepreneurship reading this, Mike shared some amazing advice. Some of that advice related to focusing on your core strengths, being adaptable, and raising capital.
To get the full story and details, take a listen to episode 100 on your preferred streaming service or listen below and then let us know what you think!