Meet Mike Bugembe; award-winning data evangelist who helped boost a company’s value to $100m

Mohammed Awal Jun 24, 2020 at 11:00am

June 24, 2020 at 11:00 am | Tech & Innovation

Mohammed Awal

Mohammed Awal

June 24, 2020 at 11:00 am | Tech & Innovation

Photo credit: dataiq.co.uk

Mike Bugembe is the founder of the data company lens.as, a firm that provides consultation, training, and solutions for businesses that understand the importance of knowing and understanding their data.

Born and bred in an academic family, Bugembe became interested and hooked up to technology from age nine when he coded his first game.

After his first degree in electronic engineering, his thirst for mathematics, signal processing, and programming was quenched. “This was the start of my interest in data,” said Bugembe.

“After I graduated from university, I got a job at Accenture, where I was able to develop my skills even further and apply what I had learned to great success,” resulting in him taking up a position as the head of business intelligence for the world’s largest diamond mining company, De Beers.

A massive opportunity would present itself to Bugembe during his association with De Beers. An entity called JustGiving gave him the chance to use his love for data, algorithms, and AI to solve the challenges of generosity.

“Very quickly we found that the use of data and complex algorithms could grow the world of giving and fundamentally change the way consumers engaged with causes that they cared about,” he said.

The founders of JustGiving collected huge amounts of data on both people raising money and those donating and Bugembe was tasked “with looking into this data and finding useful insights which could be implemented.”

With so much freedom and autonomy, Bugembe built algorithms that could make the experience more personal for people raising and those giving, according to Forbes.

He spoke of his time with JustGiving with Black Enterprise saying: “My journey with JustGiving started in 2010 and the brief was simple: they had millions of records of people doing fundraising activities like baking, but they did not know what to do with the data.”

Bugembe said he spent the first six months looking at what the data was “telling us and discovered we could use machine learning to transform the company. We concluded that we wanted to move from a transactional platform to an engaging platform which would make giving more of a social activity that you would engage in over a longer period of time. I managed to secure a team and the implementation of the social features led to the high valuation of the company.”

The algorithms developed by Bugembe generated millions for charity and successfully enabled JustGiving to get a valuation of over $100 million. After the sale of JustGiving, he spent a year writing up their successful methodology for others to share, and that ended up as an Amazon bestseller in 2019.

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