Daniel Young & Circadian Risk


One of the many things I love about working at Cahoots is the endless community of people around me. Today I was able to talk to Daniel Young, the founder of Circadian Risk, a risk analytics company. 

To begin, tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up here in Ann Arbor.

I grew up in Holly, Michigan and went to MSU to get my Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Security Management. I wanted to go into federal law enforcement but found that it wasn’t really as much of an appeal anymore. I always wanted to kind of go into the business realm, so I thought that security, being that it would be business and criminal justice, would be a good mix. So I started doing that and worked with a security guard company called Guardsmark right out of college. I did that for quite a few years, and then went back to MSU to get my masters in criminal justice with a specialization in security management. While doing that, I learned of a new opportunity to be an Assistant Regional Bioterrorism Coordinator at District 1 Regional Medical Response Coalition. I later took over the program and was the youngest Regional Bioterrorim Coordinator in the country. It was a government funded initiative. We were improving healthcare response to mass casualty incidents whether from terrorism or a natural disaster. This all started due to a stolen vial of Smallpox in a Russian lab, and we had to come up with a way to immunize our population, just over 1 Million people, in 72 hours if an event occurred in the U.S. After working there for 7 years, I went and got my MBA in Entrepreneurship and started my first company. It was a security consulting company. I then started Circadian Risk, just about 3 years ago.

Where did you come up with the idea for this new company?

Well right now if a company wanted to know what the risk was to a physical incident , such as an active shooter in the workplace or perhaps a tornado at their data site, companies will hire security professionals and they will give their expert opinions to these companies. The problem with that is if you have these individuals come in, they are using their own assumptions, knowledge, and skill sets, and its highly subjective. Because of that, we really don't have a strong process that actually works. If you have two people go into the same facility and you get two different reports coming out, it doesn't work. So I wanted to turn risk into a data analytics method rather than just being a subjective skill based method and I wanted to turn risk into something that could be done everyday, not just once in a while. We wanted to develop a software based approach that could improve the efficiency and objectivity of the assessment and also use the actual analytics to create a score based approach to understanding risk, similar to a FICO score. 

So what exactly is Circadian Risk?

Circadian Risk is a risk analytics company with the aim to reduce the risk of a physical incident. A lot of people want to know how they compare in an industry. So if you're a hospital, how do you compare in the healthcare industry. If you’re a bank, how do you compare in the banking of finance industry. With Circadian Risk, we finally have a method where these high risk companies can be gauged on. So the primary focus right now is to create software to be able to perform these types of assessments more effectively and objectively and then companies can internally use analytics for themselves. So if i have 6,000 locations, I want to compare all 6,000 side by side and that's never been able to be done before because most of these people do it on paper, pencil, and possibly excel. With Circadian Risk, many more opportunities are now available. 

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Where did your interest in security management come from?

It came from college. I’ve always had the passion of criminal justice. I’ve always loved policing and federal law enforcement and always wanted to do it, but policing is very reactive. They wait until an event happens or is about to happen and respond. I wanted to prevent these things from happening in the first place. The only way to do that is by assessing these locations, determining the best course of action, implementing that, and then researching and continuing to validate whether that measure is actually working. Its taking a more scientific approach to criminal justice. I became obsessed with risk right in college and started doing assessments. One of my professors, Dr. Judith Collins was a big influencer on that. She saw where my passion lied and really encouraged me. Most people don’t think of risk as a career path, but I am bringing more of an innovation type of approach to risk that most people don’t and have made a career for myself at a fairly young age. 

What’s next for Circadian Risk?

Whats next for us is to turn the internal data that these companies have into something that is extremely useful for them. We want to take this internalized data, create analytics, get to a higher level dashboard that allows our clients to identify and investigate that data for what they want. After that, it’s just growth. We’re working with some key enterprise clients but also partnering with some really high influential companies in the industry and that growth will allow us to capture more companies. The more data we collect, the stronger we will become. Our end goal? I would love to be able to say that by implementing this strategy, you will reduce your risk of x by y. I would love to get to that point, but that’s further out. Right now it’s all about making these products highly efficient, making sure that were killing those pain points, and making sure this is something they can use everyday and not just once in a while. 

Finally, how did you find Cahoots and why did you decide it would be the right fit for your company?

Circadian risk went through the Desai Accelerator, and that’s when I first met Alison (Cahoots’ Managing Director). We’ve been growing since the accelerator, and Alison and I stayed very close. Like most startups, we were also focusing on remaining as thin as possible. We started out with just my founder and I and one individual. We went from 3 to 9 employees and from a growth perspective, we’ve doubled our initial revenue projections. I brought on a new CEO, Michael Martin, who has been in the industry for 26 years. I knew with his experience that we would be able to grow rapidly. We knew at this point we needed to find a location that would meet our growth pattern, since we are definitely going to be scaling. Right now we are actually looking for 6-8 new senior developers. If anyone is interested or knows someone that would be interested in a position as a Senior Developer - Full Stack or DevOps, please send them our way. The capability to start out thin at Cahoots and grow as we need to is a huge appeal. We also really wanted to have an Ann Arbor based office, and be where the tech and talent is. There are so many different levels of appeal to being in Ann Arbor, and Cahoots was the clear option for us.