Andrew Lee, CEO and Founder of SurfBigData, originally moved from China to Washington D.C. to continue his education. After earning an MBA from The George Washington University, Lee worked for the Federal legislature building models used to evaluate the economic impacts of policy on a national and local scale.
In 2005, Lee and his wife moved to Broward County where he took a position with United Tiger Group. As the VP of IT and Operations, Lee developed IT strategy, architecture and applications to align with business goals. After four years, the company dissolved and Lee, along with several friends, launched the first of three startups.
“The first one focused on applications,” Lee said. “I teamed up with some PHD friends with experience in healthcare. We developed apps for the healthcare industry, but eventually sold that and launched a new startup. The second startup focused on building a platform for other developers. During this time, we discovered that every project we worked on, much of the data availability and quality were overlooked. Often times, developers would just jump into fancy solutions like Artificial Intelligence.”
Lee continued, “We found that without solving the data issue first, it was almost impossible to get to the functional and useful Artificial Intelligence. We also determined that most technology teams didn’t fully understand the difference between mission critical and non-mission critical data and the difference in logic between a thousand users and ten million users. We collaborated and combined our experiences and insight to build a data platform capable of delivering real value.”
Founded in 2015, SurfBigData, a data-driven services and solutions provider, offers state-of-the-art data analytic technology, automated process platform, and data security solutions to improve performance, reduce costs, and protect digital assets for Government, Enterprise, and Academia.
“We provide logical architecture and solutions that leverage our experience with data across multiple domains and agencies to enable data systems and applications to be more intelligent. We provide the basic data support to allow the Artificial Intelligence to function properly.”
According to Lee, who also spent time in South Florida as an adjunct professor teaching Big Data Applications and Platforms, working with a small team and securing funding have been the two primary challenges.
“The people we brought together have a lot of combined experience,” he said. “They were also getting paid very well in their previous jobs. The financial pressure has been tough. Nevertheless, as a federal contractor and a certified Minority Owned Small Business, we’ve been able to leverage those certificates to do business with federal agencies. We contact them, they refer us to a buyer and then we showcase our experience and provide demonstrations to the customer.”
With core competencies that include Intelligent Algorithm Design, Software Development, Cloud Computing, Systems Design, DevOps-Agile, Cyber Security, Math Modeling & Simulation, Predictive Analytics, Big Data, and a host of other services and solutions, SurfBigData has managed to do projects for some very well-known multinational corporations. That list includes CVS, Cigna, United Healthcare, Visa and Subway.
“For CVS, we developed a Medicare PDP invoicing and billing system,” Lee said. “The process is very complicated and includes large amounts of clients with claims that need to be processed. After we upgraded and redesigned that system, what used to take six weeks could now be completed in 15 minutes. The whole platform became digital. Not only does it save time, it also helps to identify fraudulent claims – thus saving all stakeholders including pharmacy, taxpayers, and investigation, time and money. We also worked with United Healthcare on an over-the-counter platform to help them better serve their clients and prevent fraud.”
Lee continued, “We’re extremely happy to be able to provide solutions to these problems. As a team, we enjoy solving problems. Unlike solutions like AWS and Microsoft Azure, which are more like walking into a Home Depot and doing it yourself; we go in and explain the technology to our clients. We enjoy helping them understand the logic. We use our science backgrounds to help our clients fundamentally solve their problems for the long-term.”
Looking ahead, Lee and his team are focused on leveraging their experience to build a robust data platform capable of handling data quality and availability issues. They’ve narrowed in on the gap between data sources and applications and are doing their part to fill it. Lee shared that, although many other teams are good at computer science, many of them lack the deep mathematical skill sets – the real baseline of computer science. They’re also currently working to collect COVID-19 data to help international health agencies with researching and forecasting. Lee’s long-term goal is to become a ‘Unicorn’ and tap into the billion dollar markets. To accomplish that objective, they’re on the hunt for additional funding to fuel their growth.
What advice does Lee have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Don’t be afraid to fail,” he said. “If you do fail, take some lessons from that experience and move on. Also, in the early stages, don’t waste too much money on marketing. Instead, focus on the technology and the solution you’re offering to your clients. It’s important to deliver real value. Lastly, be passionate, but maintain humility.”