DataProphet: Story, Founders, Investors & Funding Rounds

Founded in 2014 by Frans Cronje and Daniel Schwartzkopff, DataProphet is an artificial intelligence (AI) startup that aims to position companies in the manufacturing industry to evolve towards autonomous, energy-efficient production, optimizing manufacturing performance. 

The mission of DataProphet is the creation of guaranteed value for their manufacturing clients and partners. As a company, they realized early on that to predict whether a unit produced would pass or fail quality is invaluable for a manufacturer’s quality control team. 

Going a step further, they saw even deeper value in empowering control teams to adapt their production process pre-emptively. This way, you avoid the defect in the first place. By following their prescriptions, DataProphet’s first manufacturing customer was able to reduce their defects to 0%.

Since then, years of global industry experience have shown that leading-edge research into deep learning is an invaluable resource. 

They have also found that for advanced producers of semiconductors, automotive equipment, rubber, glass, plastic, gray iron, and minerals AI-driven solutions are an underutilized game-changer in the race toward autonomous manufacturing.

The underlying technology and adaptive AI algorithms that drive their solutions are fascinating. But they are not the objective. Their conviction at DataProphet is meaningful, lasting, improvements to your production process should proceed with the given manufacturing environment. 

This means using its existing collateral data and machinery. What is more, in the physical, heavy asset, high-risk economy of industrial manufacturing, practicality is paramount. With these realities in mind, their suite of AI-as-a-Service products guarantees rapid ROI.

DataProphet has been recognized as both a Technology Pioneer and a Global Innovator by the World Economic Forum (WEF), a leader in Manufacturing Technology Innovation by Frost & Sullivan, and an innovative company driving exponential shifts in AI by Forbes.

DataProphet’s venture-backed AI for manufacturing solutions has helped customers worldwide adopt data-led production systems.

How it Works

Manufacturing plants or factories take raw material inputs and add value through a sequence of unit processes before shipping a product. 

Now, this process must follow a recipe. There are a series of instructions for products such as cars; in those instructions, a list of parameter values, specific temperature for iron melting, specific pressure for mold casting, and the list goes on.

DataProphet, for instance, in the automotive space, does all of the quality inspections, in-line and end-of-line, to ensure the cars are in good shape; if not, they are scrapped or reworked, becoming lost capacity and effort for the factories. 

Employees hired to keep these processes in check can make mistakes; thus, they rely on software to evaluate their experiences, change parameters if needed and ensure that the car reaches the end-of-line as high quality as possible.

Manufacturers use DataProphet at different points on their digitization journeys; data collation and centralization are crucial to kickstart them. 

The first product in DataProphet’s stack, CONNECT, enables manufacturers to augment their data infrastructure and bring data from where they’ve been using it for compliance in the manufacturing space to a point where they can use it for optimization.

The startup’s flagship solution, PRESCRIBE, is a deep learning solution designed to reduce manufacturing risk in multi-step processes and also enables customers to reduce costs by an average of 40%, and also supports manufacturers on their digital adoption curve.

The company currently ingests about 100 million unique data points daily on its platform. With this data, PRESCRIBE can make informed decisions to reduce defects, scrap, or non-quality processes and improve manufacturers’ yield.


Frans Cronje

frans cronje

Frans is the CEO and Co-founder of DataProphet. 

Since founding DataProphet in 2014, Frans has continually worked to highlight the real value machine learning technology can, and should, offer manufacturers, and regularly speaks at AI industry workshops and events.

He currently leads a forty-strong team of mathematicians, statisticians, and data scientists who have made it their mission to help manufacturers reach their Smart Factory ambitions.

Before DataProphet, Frans was the Head Statistics Tutor at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and worked as a consultant for Bain Consulting. 

Frans has been named one of Fast Company SA’s top 20 industry leaders under 30. 

He holds a Master’s in Statistics with Distinction and a Bachelor of Business Science Honors in Actuarial Science from the University of Cape Town.

Daniel Schwartzkopff

Daniel Schwartzkopff

Serial digital entrepreneur Schwartzkopff is a South African business executive with firm start­-up experience and a proven background in the technology and social networking sectors. 

He was the founder of BetVIP, the world’s first licensed bitcoin­-only sportsbook and casino, and has been featured in everything from Business Day to the Wall Street Journal.

He previously founded FSMS, a VC-­funded telecoms startup with more than 400,000 registered users where he first found a passion for using machine learning to discover rich interactions and extract value from massive datasets.

Schwartzkopff is a graduate of the University of Cape Town, where he studied Chemical Engineering.

Investors & Funding Rounds

Knife Capital, Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC), Norican Group

DataProphet has completed its $10 million Series A funding round which started in 2020 with a $6 million round led by IDC and Norican.

This latest round was led by venture capital firm Knife Capital which initially invested in DataProphet in early 2018 via its KNF Ventures Section 12J funding vehicle.

The funding for this latest round came from the firm’s recently launched Knife Fund III, which aims to support the international ambitions of African scale-ups.

The Knife Fund III fund is still open for investment and is backed by the International Finance Corporation, the Mineworkers Investment Company, the SA SME Fund, select family offices, and other credible financial institutions.

The startup has been on an impressive growth trajectory since Knife Capital’s first capital injection in 2018, tripling its team, expanding its customer base to the Americas, Europe, and Asia, and also winning several awards, including the Outstanding Innovation Category at the recent Global Business Excellence Awards.

Main Competitors

TAIGER: This is a developer of applied artificial intelligence platforms to automate complex cognitive tasks.

Kirontech: It uses cutting-edge machine learning technology to revolutionize the use of healthcare data.

CircuitHub: This is deep learning and robotics to automate circuit board manufacturing.


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