The founding of Appriss Inc. was inspired 26 years ago by a tragic event. A man who was in jail for abusing a 21-year-old woman named Mary Byron was released without notification to Mary and her family. Days after his release, he murdered Mary in the parking lot of a mall.
Entrepreneurs Mike Davis and Yung Nguyen heard the story and wanted to find a way to notify crime victims when a perpetrator is going into jail, coming out of jail, appearing in court, and going on probation or parole. They did this by connecting data from every jail and every prison in the country.
Since its founding, Appriss has expanded to include risk management in both health and retail. It now has offices in two continents and customers in 25 countries on four continents. Louisville Future spoke with Appriss CEO Krishnan Sastry about the company’s growth and how it focuses its digital analytics in different areas.
What Appriss’ main goal?
Sastry: If there’s one phrase I could use to describe what Appriss does, it is about helping organizations manage risk.
You have three main business units. Tell us first about Appriss Insights.
Sastry: Appriss Insights focuses on risk related to people and their criminal behavior history. Our technology is used to keep communities safe and to keep victims of crime safe from the bad actors who committed the crime in the first place. We built a data network that connects north of 2,400 jails and prisons across the country to collect this data in near real-time. Anytime they release or book a person, we get notified. We then centralize that data and use it to help crime victims. That’s the core premise behind it.
What about Appriss Health?
Sastry: With our health business, we try to not only address the risk of addiction (to opioids, for example) but also other clinical issues, such as behavioral health. We’ve built out technology and analytics to identify people with addiction issues and behavioral health issues. This helps them find the right venue of care while ensuring that balls don’t get dropped. We help state governments collect the data, and then we provide them with algorithms and analytics on top of that to identify patients in need. We also provide them with technologies so those patients can be referred electronically to rehab treatment facilities and addiction treatment facilities.
Give me an example of why this is important.
Sastry: Imagine you come across a home health care worker who is taking care of your aging parent. If that home health care worker is a drug addict who has been busted on possession of illegal narcotics, theft or battery and assault, then the home health agency needs to know. Because your parent’s life is at risk when that happens.
Another example is this: Until 2008 or 2009, people could go from pharmacy to pharmacy buying as much Sudafed or Claritin-D as they desired to ultimately use the pseudoephedrine to make meth. Now people have to present valid ID to buy [those same medications]. So regardless of whether you go to Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger, Rite Aid or Meijer, we are monitoring those sales across the entire country.
Your third business is retail.
Sastry: There is the risk of fraud, where employees sometimes steal from their employers, and consumers defraud retailers. What we do is use analytics to identify both consumer fraud and employee fraud. In retail, we collect the data from points of sale.
So when you go into a Kroger or a Walmart, where they ring you up, that’s the data we collect. That is also the data we analyze to find abnormal patterns. An example would be if I am the cashier and seem to ring up more burger patties than any other cashier on Earth. But the store where I am the cashier seems to order more filet mignons than they ever sell. It might be the clue to the crime of collusion: My buddy brings the filet mignons, while I ring them up as burger patties.
What does the future hold for Appriss?
Sastry: I think the core tenet is still going to be about data analytics, about leveraging those for the good of society and our communities.
The company was born in Louisville. What are the advantages of being located here?
Sastry: We are working on some of the most cutting-edge technology found anywhere in the data analytics industry right now. We’ve got a very deep data science team. These are people who have been industry veterans for more than 20 years and who were involved in the original invention of algorithms around FICO credit scores.
We want to attract talent that recognizes Louisville for what an amazing place it is. It has all of the amenities of a larger city, with the feel of a place where you want to spend your life.