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Hey, everyone, welcome back for another episode of and why my name is Annie. And I'm the host of this podcast. Today's episode is going to be with Kirk Marple. He is the founder and CEO of unstructured data. And shrug data is building the industry's leading unstructured data warehouse for automating data preparation via metadata and rutschman integrated compute and graph based search, he's going to go through this a little bit more deeper, and would explain it a lot better. But it's really, really interesting. And he is a really experienced technology leader, and he's going to really share how he got to where he is today. And why he decided to start this company. But also we're going to talk about mental health a little bit, because I think it's really important to talk about mental health in regards to entrepreneurship. And we really, really touched upon that. So if you guys are interested in this episode, just keep on listening. Hey, Kirk, how are you doing?
Very good. Thank you.
Good, good. So I'm very excited for this episode. Um, you, you have done amazing things in your life. But let's start with what you're doing right now, which is founding unstruck data. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? And what do you do on a day to day basis?
For sure, yeah. So in March, we started unstruck data. It's a team of I guess we're about eight or nine folks right now. And basically trying to help industries manage their media, like images, video, 3d files, things like that. And it's something I've kind of been heading down most of my career, but it's a found this kind of niche that seemed like something some, some problems need to be solved. And so on a on a day to day basis. I mean, I wear a lot of hats. I'm still, I still write code. And I'm basically our main back end developer, but also CEO. So I deal with hiring, deal with kind of delegating the work out to the to the team, but then fixing bugs building features, I mean, helping out with design a lot like UX and UI, as well.
Nice, nice. So I know, you know, it didn't happen overnight. So like, how did what was the build up to be like, Oh, I need to start unstruck data. So like, you know, talk about your previous jobs? And how that inspired, you know, maybe why you decided to start it? And maybe how COVID affected it like we talked about? Yeah,
for sure. So I kind of always been in this media space. I mean, not necessarily intentionally, but maybe so I mean, I'd been like a college DJ. And I mean, I'd always been into music and kind of seeing and photography and things like that. And I think that kind of started my interest a little bit. I mean, out of college, and some of the first jobs that I had were either like image processing related or like live video streaming back in the early days. Then I went to grad school, and just start to get more interested in what we were calling it multimedia, originally. And it's kind of I mean, I ended up after Microsoft, starting company, helping companies get video on to the web. And, I mean, now that's kind of so commonplace, but this is I mean, 10 plus years ago that it just didn't exist. And so we, I mean, worked a lot of the broadcasters and studios and like ESPN, interesting folks like that, and really learned upon about just media, per se, working with companies and sales and all these kind of things. And then I ended up selling the company and working for a few years for other different companies kind of trying to figure out what what do I do next. And I started to see these parallels of a lot of these industries that like I worked for General Motors for a while, and they had a lot of the same media management problems that the studios had, have just there's a lot of data. They don't, it's not well organized, they can't find anything. And that was were actually the first idea for unstructured data. And so after I left GM, I was kind of thinking about starting this company, then And didn't have the right contacts for funding and stuff like that at the time, but so I ended up just taking a couple other like CTO or VP jobs. And then it kind of circle back. I mean, to your point about COVID, I had been CTO of a company that was kind of incubating a product can work in a product for about a year and a half in this space. And they I mean, COVID hit their revenue pretty hard. They decided to pull back from that product we were working on, I was honestly looking for another job. Like, what do I do next? and things just lined up. And so I was able to have the right contacts and started to have this idea really solidify in my head of what this could be, and was able to kind of get a couple early investors who said yes, and then after, I guess, really, it was a kind of January ish of this year, things started to take off. And so really then, got more interest, got more fun investors, and we were able to close everything, get money in the bank in March. So it was a pretty quick turnaround To me, it was like, almost like October of last year to March of
this year. It's like a fully launched platform now, right?
I'm close. So we're about six, eight weeks from fully launching. So we're also
not yet it was really, really close.
The and it's mostly the web front end is what we're finishing up down a lot of some of the design tweaks and stuff like that. Yeah, we're getting into the hands of the first customers. I mean, hopefully in August
Hmm. And talking about customers. So in my mind, I thought this, you know, I thought it was mainly for, you know, be a b2b business, right? So it's like you're reaching out to people in the industry that need this type of product. But I'm starting to think like, I'm like what, like we talked about, it might be better for consumers to you know, a lot of there's like a lot of influencers now, and a lot of people who have large amounts of just photos, you know, we have 4000 photos, we have like 10,000 photos in Google Photos, and like, it'd be nice to kind of be able to like dissect that and find the right photos really quickly. So like, are you guys like thinking about that? Or if you are like, how, when? Or is that going to be later on?
That's really interesting question. I mean, because honestly, I was working on this for the last, I guess, four or five years, just on the side, like nights and weekends. And I was building a platform called Xen, like kind of short magazine, like, which was kind of an old DIY publishing model, like back when I was in college. And it was, it was funny, because well, I was actually building this with a couple friends just like doing it on the side as kind of this passion project. And that was much more consumer facing. So it was kind of like a podcast, discovery platform, and providing all the kind of background and everything you talked about in a podcast, we could like link to all that information. And it's interesting, because I still I mean, so all the code I wrote was kind of aimed at that initially. But now we're, I mean, much more focused on business. But I do have an idea that hopefully, in the future, I can come back and kind of all that code still there for the consumer kind of focus and just build out another kind of side platform that is more consumer. And so I mean, that's kind of my goal is to do it, and have both, eventually a b2b and b2c. And then my daughter's in grad school, and I've been talking to her about research, and she's in the arts and like a French major. And like, all the work she does to kind of find videos, find where I mean documents, find images of different things. And she had been done art history as well, and as a research tool to kind of organize and do research, dive more deeply into the media that you're capturing as part of like writing papers. Right, right. I really think there's something there. And so that it's it's a little harder to like get funded and be I mean, kind of push on that hard, because it's not like a big business. But I do think there's some really interesting things we can do with with all the knowledge that we're capturing, and basically the same technology, per se.
Yeah, like, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe it'll be good to just partner with institutions at that point, just like, offer to offer it as a research tool.
We could have something we could just give away for free or do it as an academic, kind of maybe even open source it Who knows, but I think that can be pretty interesting.
Yeah, that's really cool. So let's talk about your work life balance, because like being a CEO is not easy. And you've been CEO of multiple companies, how were you able to manage your work life, and then also manage your personal life because I am an employee and I'm having trouble doing that already. So how do you do
Um I mean I think you fail a lot I mean it's yeah I mean my kids are a bit older now I mean back when I had the first company they were young I mean like sub 10 at the time but it's it's struggle I mean you really I mean I've gone on both sides where you get so sucked into the business side of it that you're not putting in time into your family and personal and it's I mean you learn to kind of bounce off of things and know what to fix but it's really an important thing I think I mean just from mental health perspective and homeless I mean work life balance perspective it's it's super important to have that and you it's hard to stay kind of flatline Yeah, without it. So I you end up kind of surfing it a little bit where it's like, you mess up you fix it you realize it you kind of get better and you kind of go back and forth so but I know that other people could do a lot better
Is there like a tip you would say that really helped you?
Um, I mean I think self awareness is probably the biggest thing is it least being humble and kind of like not assuming you always have your shit together is like probably the biggest thing and just be able to keep one eye back on yourself like I mean are you keeping an eye on your health like I mean are you like i don't know i mean stop exercise I mean I've been that where I'm like oh I'm too busy like can't go to the gym can't do those things like that and and even COVID was terrible for that it's like I mean, not leaving the house barely and this is like it's not good for that balance of just keeping your body moving and your mind moving at the same time. And it's like trying to balance all those things so like I've done it right sometimes like now it's like I'm probably like not in the best shape but it's like you got to get back and be like okay, I gotta get everything balanced like get helps I balance and the work side balanced and it's it's a struggle I mean it's especially I mean as you get older it's not not as easy but you got to I think you really except to be self aware about making sure that you're managing like your brain your body like the work all that kind of stuff is really tricky.
Yeah, yeah. I think it's even trickier for you because you're also managing other people yeah, so like how do you how do you like do that like how do you like shut off you know when you're your own boss like at the end of the day
you kind of don't I mean it's just like it I mean in a way you just kind of have to absorb that I mean there's not it's not easy I mean to to shut off but you got to take the days I mean, like this weekend was kind of chill and like it was not like there's someone I worked straight through the weekend I just worked seven days a week for weeks but I think at a time you sometimes just hit this kind of sort of late burnout phase where like look I just need to just do for a while and I think it's you just got to listen to your self and figure out the right way to find that balance but it's it's tricky and I think you're right i mean with the the management part I mean that's something I've kind of learned and I think being a parent kind of helps that to where you have empathy for I mean your kids you have empathy for your employees like you can i mean it's it's a little bit of a an easier slide to do that but I mean you have employees that are going through personal problems you have employees that are having health problems or whatever it might be I mean not being specific but just stuff that happens like in their life I mean are there I mean the animals have are sick or something like that and and it affects like you can't push too hard because like you'd love to just be like drive drive drive but it really becomes like you got to give people balance and right and but also have enough I mean, I guess I always think of it's my job to kind of see what's coming down the road like no one else is kind of looking three months, six months, nine months as much as I am And so trying to dissipate like Do we have enough of a bench like if something happens to one or two people can we not I mean can we survive and I mean that's probably a big mistake I made earlier with my first company is just trying to do too much myself and not getting as much and I've tried to fix that and just make sure that there's there's enough people involved that even if I travel or somebody else is sick or whatever, I mean, the company just doesn't kind of fall apart so that's a tricky thing to accomplish as well.
Yeah, so obviously you didn't learn this overnight but I really want to talk about your different career changes. And you know, because you know, when we're young which most of my audiences they're all thinking that number very simply, I guess like they think that you have to do what your major majoring in and then they kind of get stuck in this like path and they're the that they don't love. And then they think this is it, you know, and it's hard to get out of that or get out of the mindset of you have to do what you majored in or commit to, I guess a very straightforward path. Where you just climb that ladder instead of, you know, trying things horizontally? I guess. So do you have any advice for those students or maybe millennials who are listening to this?
I mean, I think it's interesting. It's like, I've never been one to like, plan, like, 510 years out. I mean, and so I think a lot of it is kind of just following your passion of like, it always, I mean, it's a it's a cliche, but it's easier to work on things that that you love. And I just got kind of lucky, I think I mean, after trying to think so, after college, I went and worked for a couple of different I mean, you could call them startups. I mean, they were small companies back then, on the East Coast, and really didn't have a plan, I just kind of bounced from one to the other. I mean, I kind of felt like I learned enough and kind of wanted to learn more about something different. And I think that's where I, I tended to follow what I was interested in, interested in learning more than what I wanted to achieve. And then I kind of got to a point where I'm like, Look, I really want to go to grad school, there's more I want to learn. And I think I kind of hit these inflection points, like every couple years, but really was open to change. I mean, I moved from Washington, DC, all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia, for grad school. So like, completely other side of the country, big change. And it was like, Okay, look, I mean, this is something brand new. And I want to learn different things. And never would have planned that. I mean, a couple years before that. So I think you just have to be adaptable, and have a general gist of what makes you happy, or what you want to learn and things like that. But also just, I think Don't be too rigid. I mean, it's probably the thing is, I mean, things are gonna come your way. And and it's okay to fail fast. I mean, if you don't like something, I mean, I've quit things like in a week or two. I mean, I thought I thought it was the right thing. And you just don't have to stick with things that aren't making you happy. And so, I mean, even in Microsoft, I remember taking a job that I was there for, I don't know, four or five weeks, and I just realized, like, this is not what I wanted to do. And was actually yeah, I mean, it was I mean, it's within the company, and I just taken a new role. and was like, This is not like what I expected it to be, and literally just went and took a different job there and they were fine with it. I mean, any you think that would like, look bad on your record, or whatever. But no, I mean, it was I wanted to be more of a dead man of a manager at the time and own more of a team. And they were totally amenable to it. And so they were like, okay, I mean, just go find something else. And I mean, they wanted me to be happy as well, too. So, I mean, not every place will be as easy as that. But it's it is I mean, I think don't I think the rule is you don't feel boxed in I mean, there are you can get, like make changes and adapt if, if you need to. So
do you have any tips for people who are a little bit adverse to change? Because he will like to stay the same for a long time. I've known people who are still stuck in high school.
Yeah, I mean, that's a really interesting question. It's one of those things I mean, I think it's I've definitely know people I mean, people, my family that are like that, too. It is a tricky one. Because it's not it's I mean, it's a really hard thing to teach. Yeah, I think there's I mean, I'm much more risk. What do you say? I mean, like I opened a more risk than that a lot of people probably to a level of stupidity sometimes but I mean, it's there are people who would totally like they want to see what's come in like, years ahead and plan and I mean, what and all that so I mean, I think it's, it's just try and dabble a bit, I mean, maybe take come in, try and start with some low risk choices, maybe expand out into some different things. And but, yeah, that's a tricky one. I mean, it's almost like a personality trait. Yeah. Or anything. It's just kind of a, it's who you are. I mean, I do think you need to be a bit open to risk to get to the level of like, starting companies and all that, because there's so much risk. I mean, yeah, yeah, it's, I'm the only one stressing How much money do we have in the bank? Like, I mean, what's our What's our burn rate, and all that kind of stuff. Like, that only falls on me pretty much. And so as much as everybody's in this game together, like, I'm the one watching the bank account. And so you have to, you have to be okay with that. I mean, because it's, it's a lot of, I mean, all these people's jobs and livelihood and mortgages and rent and everything is based on us being in business. And so you have to be able to like I mean, deal with that risk and keep a keep a straight out about it.
Yeah, that's it is tricky, I guess. But if people do want to start a business, they would have to learn to take risk. Just the name of the game, right?
Yep. And I think it's, I mean, my dad's a college professor, he had done the same thing for I guess, 2030 years and it's it's funny to I mean, you Not a more of a risk averse person and just kind of on the same track 10 years. But I'm like the complete opposite. Yeah. It's like, I mean, it's going to bounce around living in different places. I mean, so and so it's a, I think a lot of it's just you got to at least understand what your personality is. And then kind of just how to align your life with that, like, if. But also, it's I mean, I've gotten burned by taking too many risks to kind of have to find that happy medium at some point.
Right. Right. Right. Well, I really want to also talk about mental health, because he said that, you know, it's, it's a big, you know, important, it's important to you. So, what is something that you're doing that is, you know, working towards that mental health, whether it's towards yourself, or whether it's a community community level, I just talked to someone the other day about suicide prevention, and how she was working at a center and all that. So I know a lot of people are doing it at different levels. I'm doing a more personal level. And friend, you know, close friend level, but what are you doing that's working towards, like better mental health?
Yeah. No, it's I mean, it's been a struggle. And I think, I mean, when I had my first startup, I mean, yeah, I'll just be open. I mean, I got like, clinically depressed, just from the stress of it, and just having so much on my shoulders, and just being I mean, so overwhelmed by everything and had to go on medication. I mean, for and that's actually, I mean, for me, and obviously, it's a personal choice. But for me, it's been awesome. Like, I mean, anti anxiety, anti depression kind of stuff. And it's, it's, I mean, it changed my life, really. And it's, it runs in my family, like I mean, bipolar, and all kinds of stuff that run in my family. And so it's, it's something I was familiar with, but not until it happens to you. It's like, it's like, it could be like, staring you in the face. And I think that's the biggest thing I've learned is I mean, the self awareness about it of it. What happened to me didn't look like like, what happened to my mom? And so I just was like, Oh, no, I mean, I didn't see it until it was kind of late. And then I think, trying to be aware of I mean, sort of being happy being healthy, like, what are you doing for yourself? And it's like, yeah, I mean, my kids, I mean, actually struggle with some, I mean, things do and it's, it's hard. I mean, seeing it in that realm to where it's like, if it was just my thing, it's one thing, but I mean, seeing my kids struggle with it, and having to deal with similar. Yeah, and they, I mean, they're, I mean, in their early 20s. Now, and so it's, yeah, I mean, I think taking care of yourself, I mean, the health side of it, the exercise, all that kind of stuff, has a huge benefit to it, as well. And just, I mean, all that kind of classic, eat well, exercise, and all those kind of things actually really do matter. And I think the problem then is, it's a bad cycle, when you aren't feeling great. You don't want to do those things. And then it kind of just slippery slope downward. And so and so I mean, it's, it's just trying to stay stay on top of it, I think it's the biggest thing and, and also just having support around you that hopefully can identify, like, maybe when, when there's a low or something like that, but I think the other side of it is, it's hard when you're when you're kind of underwater, like that with depression, things like that. You don't see the forest for the trees, like it's really hard to see the problem when you're in it. And I think that's the thing. And maybe it's education thing, like how do we get people to identify, like, hey, this person might have a problem, or this person might need help. And it's, it can be really tricky. I mean, these people a lot of times don't want to say anything. And so maybe we can, I mean, hopefully, educate people better on how to identify those kind of things.
Yeah, yeah, I agree. I think social media has helped that a little bit. allowing people to be more open about those things because it was kind of taboo, you know, to not to have problems people go to psychology for to better themselves, even if they don't have problems now, you know, before it was more like go to go to therapy for because you have problems. But yeah, now it's like go to therapy to just be a better person. And it's interesting how it kind of like shifted, I guess, society's perspective on mental health is really
interesting. I mean, I, I was just listening to the Dave Chang podcast last night with about Anthony Bourdain, who I guess it's been three years since he passed, and just it was all about mental health and kind of the struggles and everything like that. And I think it's it is a really interesting thing where it's still not talked about as much as, as open as people are about it. I mean, there's still a lot of, I mean, just stuff like that happens, and then people still don't understand why. Yeah, it's really interesting.
Yeah, unless it happens to them. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Well, I kind of don't want to go back to unstruck data now. I feel like I saw the website and I saw the demo. And I was like, Oh, this is really interesting. But it was still hard for me to wrap my head around it. So like, Can you go into like maybe like the technology behind it, like the AI part of it, you know, the science behind it, and how it really works? Because I know there's like levels to it.
Yeah, for sure. And the thing is, I mean, and we are going to get more explanation. And so we, we just hired a new head of sales, and we're getting our marketing stuff worked out. And we're right on that cusp of like, getting blog posts and getting explainer videos and all that kind of stopped. Because Yeah, it's it, it can be a little tricky just to like, throw it at the concept of something and be like, Okay, get it. But yeah, I mean, basically, we can start off with the thesis of, I mean, Google Photos, iPhoto, they're great for consumer image imagery, for images and video, people are very used to that kind of functionality of you dump all your data in this thing, and you can kind of explore it. But also, the software tells you about interesting things that it notices like Google as like, Hey, we found this spotlight or insights, whatever they call it, like, Hey, here's all your dogs in an album, or whatever. And that's, I think, kind of the core of where we're crossing over is saying, okay, that's great for consumers. But we're talking to like a port, like, like that. There's somebody doing maintenance, they're walking around their facility, six hours a day, taking pictures, videos, all this kind of stuff, looking for maintenance problems. And so it's, it's like images, and video and 3d scans, and all this kind of stuff. Not necessarily for entertainment, but it's really to extract value from, and that's where the AI comes in, where, okay, the it kind of works like a funnel, I mean, you could just dump data into it, we put it into what was called Knowledge Graph in the middle. And we extract that knowledge from it to say, there's tags, and there's different ways we know where it lives in the world kind of geospatially. We know where it lives over time. So we kind of extract all this information and build the Knowledge Graph. But then it's also Well, how do you explore the Knowledge Graph. And so that's the UI. And so that's the part we're really focused on right now is a very easy to use almost consumer, like as easy for consumer application that lets you explore your data. And that's really what we're focused on. So it's like data visualization, data exploration. And then the next part is going to be collaboration. So I'm looking at a set of images or 3d files, or whatever. And I want to comment, and I can like add somebody else and put a comment in there, like integrating that whole collaboration side of it, too. And then we're also going to build a we're just starting on this is to build a mobile application for data capture. And so just to streamline, instead of having to go back to their desk, sinclar pictures to their, their desktop, and then upload it, they can have an app where they can literally just be, hey, here's a conveyor belt, and it looks like it's fraying or whatever on the build, I take a picture of it, I tag it, automatically upload it. And so we've identified where it is in like the world and geospatially, we know when they took the picture, and then we can then look over time, say, hey, in this location, show me all the pictures of this conveyor belt in the last year. And so that we can show like, oh, that phrasing started in April, and got a lot worse in July. And so conceptually, it's I mean, it's, quote, media management, per se, but it's targeted at industrial cases for that like, and it's like hundreds of 1000s of images, millions of images, or videos or 3d files. And then the other fun part we do is, if you throw in like an audio file, like a, like a recording of a zoom meeting, or a document, we can extract tags from those, and then cross reference those to the images of the videos and things. So if you have like an equipment ID number that exists in a document. And you also see that on an image, we can create an edge basically, between those things. So you could say, hey, show me everything that has this ID number. But it might be visually in a picture, it could be that somebody said it in a zoom meeting, or it could literally be in a document. And that's where things get really cool. And so in the long term goal is then is to cross reference all this data with other data they may have at their Corporation like in a database somewhere. And so yeah, I mean, there's there's a lot like we're trying to slice off enough that we can get to market get a bunch of customers going this year, and then there's really high ceiling I mean, there's so much more we can do with it. As the years progress,
yeah, yeah, I can see that I was actually just about to ask about the mobile application because it easy. But that's really, really cool. You thought about this for a while, but then you started in October. That's like, a six month time to build this thing. That's really cool.
Well, I mean, I had the back end of it, pretty much already done, like at transgenics. Already. And so I so what I did is I took all that, the IP, the intellectual property in that, and basically assigned it to this new company. And so I basically just said, Okay, here's this bucket of work code that I already wrote. And I'm going to put it into the company. And then really, we've just been what, since it's about four months, exactly. Now, building out the web, the web UI for it. And so, so we right now we have three front end developers, and then basically a QA engineer a design lead myself, he does the backend work. And then we now have a sales head of sales and stuff. So we kind of have we're pretty front end heavy in the team right now. But we'll grow the back end team next year, like later this year, once we kind of get to market but that we had, there was so much done already that we just need to really focus on the front end work. So
yeah, yeah, that's really, really cool. I mean, how long did it take for you to do the back end?
Um, I mean, I started, I mean, it's been like four or five years. And so it was like layers of work. Like I'd started a company. After I sold my company, it was focused on kind of, I called it onboarding for customers. So like all the work you need to do for customer sign up and customer billing and all that kind of stuff. I kind of built that as a as a service. And it was a little early, like what the product concept was. So it never really took off. And I kind of ended up just taking a job. And then I kind of started working on these other layers of it. And then started really aiming at this kind of podcast and kind of music sort of oriented app. And really, I mean, thankfully, a lot of that applied to what we're doing now. So it was I mean, it was a long process, but it was kind of more of a, I mean, I would work on just nights and weekends and stuff like that, and even something and then realized, okay, I could just take all of this. And now just like a company. So yeah, it was it was definitely a long process.
Yeah, that's really, really cool. Well, I hope it goes well. And that we can access it as a consumer maybe later on. But thank you so much for sharing all that sharing, you know, your nose, Granny, and mental health and also about unstruck data in depth. Yeah, it was really, really good.
Yeah, thanks so much, and I really appreciate the opportunity. Yeah, well, I
hope you have a great rest of your week. I know you're really busy. So thank you.
No worries. No, YouTube. Okay, thanks so much. Bye. Hey, lovely
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