David Gardner is betting that the most successful companies in technology both now and into the future will be the ones controlling, gathering and organizing the most data.

He’s invested more than $7 million of his own money into companies with that kind of promise.

Data is certainly a buzz term in technology today. But Gardner backs up his claims with real examples of how companies in his portfolio at Cofounders Capital are already winning customers and partnerships as a result of the powerful data they are collecting, analyzing and sharing. He shared his thoughts as keynote speaker at the inaugural Startup Grind Triangle Technology Conference in Cary Wednesday.

Gardner’s laundry list of examples includes Stealz, a mobile customer loyalty app and social media tool for restaurateurs. Leaders at the startup recently met with executives at McDonalds not to demo the product, but to share insights they’ve collected about customer behavior. Like the fact that most people choose to eat at McDonalds because of the fries and the likelihood of buying a Big Mac drops significantly with age. Meanwhile, at Chick-fil-A, 86 percent of complaints happen because an employee forgets to give customers sauce.

Myxx, meanwhile, has a vision not unlike Amazon’s. It doesn’t make, sell or deliver food, but facilitates that process and collects all sorts of data along the way.

For users, the Myxx app is a simple tool for planning meals and buying groceries. But with users’ grocery lists, recipe choices, shopping/store preferences and spending behavior in a database, the company can deliver powerful insights to retailers and consumer product companies.

Innovating in health data is Impathiq, which hopes to improve medical outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. It uses thousands of data sets and points collected over 10 years to compute the probability that a drug or treatment will improve a patient’s outcome.

Doctors can decide whether a drug with side effects is worth prescribing if it only improves an outcome by .6 percent. Or, if it’s worth thousands of dollars to keep a patient in the hospital an extra day if the chance of a faster recovery is minimal.

And then there’s healthcare industry-leading Validic, which doesn’t make devices that measure health or fitness, but collects the data computed on those devices and provides it in real time to healthcare providers and insurers.

Gardner agrees with Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, who told a crowd at the CED Tech Venture Conference in Raleigh last month that he used to tell students to get degrees in computer science because it offered the most innovation, most opportunity and the most changes to come. Now he suggests data science.

It has the most opportunity, most promise and most dollars going into the field, Gardner says.

But there’s still a huge challenge for the many promising data companies in North Carolina—a lack of early stage capital to fund them, Gardner says. He ended his talk with a call for an economic development strategy to fund promising technology innovation and data science in the state.