Bolster is the event-driven knowledge management platform of the future, bridging the gap between operators, analysts, and decision-makers.

Bolster is bridging the gap between data, people, and an AI future


We first met Guy and Steffen through a warm-intro with another VC (shout out to Lovina!). What we found was a two-man veteran team that is looking to enhance the way organisations work with their data, for the better good of the organisation, and the individuals within it.

They have built their product around a proprietary model labelled the “SMAQ methodology”, which seeks to bring context to disparate data within organisations and make it easier to understand, but ultimately, derive actionable insights from it.

As data-centric investors and lovers of AI-first startups, Bolster is right up our alley. We know the problem space very well and we are incredibly excited to see the potential applications of their solution in many different industries and verticals. But before we dive into the technicalities…


Some backstory about the founders


Guy Phillips (CEO & Co-founder) & Steffen Merten (CTO & Co-founder) are a couple of atypical founders, to say the least. They also share a background in active service for the British army and U.S. military, respectively. From our past experience, investing in veterans have proved to be a great experience and the mindset that is developed in the armed forces to “get stuff done” is highly transferrable into startup land. First and foremost, we are investors in people, and from what we have seen so far from this dynamic duo, this is something we deeply admire and respect at Hillfarrance.

Guy has an extensive background and is the driving force behind Bolster’s SMAQ methodology. Having shaped world-class intelligence analysis platforms, trained teams on using these platforms and adopted these platforms in operational environments, Guy has worked all over the world and has deep-rooted experiences within the international defence, intelligence and law enforcement, where he helped develop better analytical practices and processes for them. All this previous experience has culminated into what Guy has developed today with the SMAQ methodology and he has teamed up with his good friend, Steffen, to build a great product surrounding this methodology.

Having also served in the military, Steffen brings this mindset and applies it to the technical side of Bolster. Having recently been a Principal Solutions Architect for the Aotearoa New Zealand Startup scene at AWS, Steffen is deeply familiar with cloud technologies, the challenges that customers face in adopting and integrating new offerings and applying that to nimble startups. Before this, Steffen also held a similar position at Xero where he supported Xero’s cloud modernisation efforts.

Intelligence and data analysis has been the core pillars of both these founders’ past experiences and it is one of the reasons why we believe that they are the right team to build Bolster.


Lastly, we would like to use this platform to thank you for your service.



The problem that Bolster is solving

We always say that data is one of the most valuable assets that a company can own, however, more data is not always better and may even hinder productivity if it is utilised poorly, if not at all. The use of data can even have diminishing returns as depicted by this diagram where you would change the X-axis to data volume.


Figure Image


We see organisations interact with data every day, however, the manner in which they interact with data is not as optimised as it should be – most of the time, it is disparate data that leads to slower decision-making on the organisation’s part and hinders the value a business can provide to its customers, stakeholders and even itself.

In essence:

  • Most data is not driving business value.

  • The more disparate the data an organisation has, the more difficult it is to discover insights, perform effective qualitative analysis and collaborate to deliver actionable insights.

  • Organisations try to solve this disparate data problem by applying technology (data analytics platforms/tech) without considering how the way the technology aligns with how their business operates.

  • Most business units and divisions are siloed within large organisations, stemming from the inability of data sets to flow internally. This means that the business units or individuals who need the data insights most are unable to receive it in a straightforward manner.


How does Bolster solve this?


Bolster solves this disparate data problem by creating a cloud-native solution that pushes customer event data, open-source data and public data, through a proprietary unified model, labelled as SMAQ (Structured Model for Analytical Questioning). They have applied this model through a semantic layer that lies on top of an organisations existing data infrastructure and storage. As this is a layer, Bolster’s solution can integrate with various data lakes/architecture/lakehouses.


This unified data is then displayed in a dashboard and messenger format for the end-user to utilise, making it easier to use and adopt. For example, think of a warehouse manager who wants to understand when their warehouse is almost at capacity or wants to know where the bottlenecks are within their logistics system. Based on internal event data streams as well as other data sources flowing through Bolster’s SMAQ methodology, they are able to receive highly tailored alerts to when these occur (or are about to occur) in real-time, meaning that the warehouse manager can quickly make decisions on how to approach the situation next. Currently, these processes and insights are not derived in real-time as it usually takes a data analyst or data scientist to peer through the organisation’s dataset to find these issues. Bolster makes it easier and faster to derive actionable insights for the people who need it the most.


Bolster delivers value to organisations in two main ways:

  1. Organisational data and other data sources are put through a framework that unifies the data into a simplified format. This ensures consistency surrounding an organisation’s multiple data sources.

  2. The ability to rapidly push and pull contextual data that is relevant to a specific user, but also simple in nature.


The market


As Bolster’s solution is largely sector-agnostic, the market for them is HUGE. However, Bolster has chosen to focus on the markets that are the most applicable to their event-driven solution, but also the ones where they have had previous experience in. These being the supply chain and logistics market, the Intelligence industry and middle-market enterprise. There is also an opportunity for the start-up market as many startups have already expressed interest in using Bolster’s eventing architecture as their backend.


Why we are believers


Steffen and Guy both enjoy spearfishing and hunting, and have an appreciation and care for the environment. We believe that both Guy & Steffen are the right high-calibre team to make Bolster a true success. They both have the technical aptitude to create proprietary technology that truly innovates on modern data infrastructure. They both come from backgrounds where they were exposed first-hand to the problems that needed to be solved via data and machine-learning and finally, and most importantly, they have the same values as Hillfarrance and have displayed the characteristics within our framework that display their integrity, transparency, vision and mana.


Finally, if you are a startup or organisation that is wanting to utilise their data at all levels and derive actionable insights from them to the ones that need it most, please do get in touch with them at


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