How a Lakeland firm’s data analytics tech powers the eHarmony of golf
A partnership between a Lakeland data analytics firm and a Naples company described as the “eHarmony of golf” is helping golf enthusiasts find the ideal golf course or country club.
Inzata LLC in Lakeland is providing the technology behind Golf Life Navigators’ ProGuide Questionnaire, an online tool that assesses golfers’ interests and motivations for joining a golf club community and instantly provides a list of the Florida golf properties that best meet those needs.
Jason Becker (left), co-founder and CEO of Golf Life Navigators, works with Lynn Josephson, president and co-founder, and Phil Romano, technology lead, using the application Inzata helped develop.
In addition to two Florida-based startups helping each other, the partnership highlights the opportunity to use artificial intelligence to turn large amounts of data into reports that can be used to drive sales, said Christopher Rafter, chief operating officer of Inzata.
“There are a lot of analytics companies out there, but no one is addressing the opportunity of monetizing the data and selling it to create new revenue streams from it,” Rafter said.
Inzata — which rhymes with data — initially was named Qengine and was developed under the auspices of major health care companies that handle large data sets and but aren’t comfortable with putting sensitive information in a public cloud for security reasons.
State corporate records show Qengine LLC was established as a standalone company in July 2016, and the Inzata name was adopted earlier this year.
There’s a development center in the Czech Republic with a staff of 10, in addition to the Lakeland office where Rafter and a handful of others work. He expects to add 15 or 20 people next year, primarily salespeople who can help customers learn the platform.
Rafter was a senior vice president at Logicalis, an information technology and consulting company, before he was named chief technology officer at Vology, an IT management company in Pinellas County, in 2015. He’s been at Inzata since October 2016. He’s also on the advisory board for the master’s and Ph.D. in data science program at University of Central Florida.
Inzata’s technology allows companies to look at their own data in a new way, Rafter said.
“We generally run 100 times faster than the typical data warehouse, and closer to real time, with a focus on what’s happened in the last couple of hours or minutes,” Rafter said.
He cited the hypothetical case of a grocery store trying to figure out how much potato salad and pre-made sandwiches to make for 800 stores. “Our system looks at weather, traffic and other factors and can crunch the numbers and give the customer a fairly accurate idea of how much to make,” he said.
The deal with Golf Life Navigators came about when mutual friends introduced Rafter to key executives at Golf Life Navigators, including co-founders Jason Becker, CEO, and Lynn Josephson. Josephson, a PGA professional, primarily was responsible for matching consumers to clubs before the ProGuide was automated.
Rafter worked with PGA professional Phil Romano of Golf Life Navigators to design the new algorithm, which turns what previously was a manual process that took 24 to 48 hours to find a match for a customer seeking a golf club or country club into an automated process with instant matches.
During the process, Golf Life Navigators also collects data on high-net worth individuals, removes specific identifying information so the data is anonymous, and uses Inzata’s tools to sell the data in the form of reports to golf clubs and the PGA.
“They are gathering information no one else has,” Rafter said.
For instance, if a golf club is about to do a $1 million renovation, the data can indicate if prospective members would prefer a wine bar or a swimming pool.
“We’re helping them monetize their data,” he said.
While Rafter himself previously lived and worked in New York and Arizona, he said the startup environment in Florida is conducive to a company like Inzata.
Inzata is owned by individual investors, family and friends, and is not looking to raise money from public or private sources, Rafter said. One of the owners and founders is David Robinson, the president and CEO of DSM Technology Consultants and an entrepreneur who has launched 15 companies using DSM as an incubator, according to the Florida Virtual Entrepreneur Center. Robinson is chairman of the Inzata board but not involved in daily operations, Rafter said.
Tampa Bay Business Journal
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