RALEIGH – There might be a pandemic going on, but it’s boom time for Global Data Consortium.
The Raleigh-based startup, which runs a global identity verification platform, is fresh off a $3.5 million raise led by big names like data provider Refinitiv and Village Capital.
Today, the firm also is confirming a new partnership with the Ireland-based multinational credit bureau Experian, one of the world’s largest credit bureaus. The deal will see GDC integrate its platform within Experian’s digital identification platform, bolstering customer onboarding to big banks and fintech companies across 45 countries.
“[It’s] a big stamp of approval,” says GDC’s co-founder and CEO William “Bill” Spruill, via a recent Zoom interview.
Why is this little data firm from the Oak City gaining so much traction? For the last five years, Spruill says the company has grown at an astonishing clip – around 120 percent year over year.
Even a pandemic hasn’t changed things. In fact, just the opposite.
“The pandemic has forced people to accelerate their adoption of online transactions. Opening an online bank account, transacting with a payment processor, these digital activities require a company like a GDC for verification,” says Spruill. “The byproduct has been an increase in the use of our platform.”
Five-year capital search
However, this isn’t an overnight success story.
Spruill, with his business partner Charles Gaddy, founded GDC back in 2011. At the time, they had just finished a stint working at software firm AddressDoctor – Spruill as chief operating officer and Gaddy as head of American partnerships.
Once that company got acquired, the pair decided to venture out on their own, going through several iterations before they landed in the current space.
“Embracing digital identity and compliance was when the business really started to take off,” says Spruill.
Bill SpruillFive years ago, they started their search for capital. Yet initially, they couldn’t get any backers.
Pitching is “just not my forte,” he says with humility, something of a rare trait in CEOs. “We didn’t seem to attract venture capital.” It’s even more puzzling considering that Spruill is well-known in the local Triangle ecosystem. He is an active angel investor as a member of Triangle Angel Partners, a $2.6 million early stage angel fund. He’s also a long-time board member on the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED).
If statistics are to be believed, other factors likely also played a big part.
Spruill is Black.
Despite this new heightened awareness with the Back Lives Movement these days, African American founders still face disproportionate struggles in securing cash for their companies.
Last year, angel investors invested around $38 million in the Southeast – but only 5 percent of funds went to founders/CEOs who were non-white, according to a recent report released by the Angel Capital Association (ACA).
It’s something Spruill won’t shy away from.
“If two 20-year-old white kids, perhaps graduating from Stanford or MIT, had presented the same idea, I imagine their business would have been funded in a heartbeat,” he says.
In the end, though, he prefers to see the silver lining.
“We were able to bootstrap GDC and figure out what were the really revenue driving, key customer issues to resolve. As a result, I believe we delivered a far better solution in the marketplace than frankly most of our competition. This is definitely reflected in our growth trajectory.”
Now, flush with capital and new partners, Spruill expects to grow even faster.
At present, GDC has around 22 full-time employees. That number is expected to jump to 30 by the end of the year.
There’s also a new product offering in the pipeline and plans to expand their global footprint.
“We currently service approximately 68 countries globally,” he says, “and we’re looking to expand coverage to 75-80 countries inside of the 12-18 months.”
“Going digital and growing should be exciting this year and next.”