Palo Alto-based startup Datahero today announced a $1 million seed round, led by Foundry Group, to help the company realize its vision of providing accessible, tailored access to big data insights to employees throughout an organization, regardless of their technological expertise. It’s an ambitious goal, especially because Datahero wants to offer a more comprehensive solution than many others out there, looping in almost any data source a client could want to analyze.
“What’s unique about us is that Chris and I are bringing unique insights to the product,” co-founder Jeff Zabel said in an interview about co-founder Chris Neumann. “He’s the first employee of Aster Data, which deals in big data, and I’d worked at BMW for some time on a couple different products. We’ve always wanted to work together, but it’s always been a question of what do you do with a consumer interface guy and a guy who deals in big data?'”
The answer, it turns out, lies in the changing nature of how data is being used. “The average sales guy today has access to a lot more data, and they also understand that they can make better decisions if they use that data,” he said. “With that change, the problem is they’re kind of stuck in the middle.” Dealing with complicated business intelligence tools on the one hand, and Excel on the other hand as the default solution to make sense of a lot of that data, much of which is being gathered for purposes not related directly to their frontline jobs.
It’s a trend we’re already seeing in other areas. Mixpanel, for instance, is working on making website analytics instantly accessible to end users, using design-focused principles to translate raw data into something people can grasp more quickly than Google Analytics. Junar, covered by BetaKit earlier this week, wants to make push-button publishing of complex open data sets something that anyone with basic web-browsing skills can accomplish. Zabel acknowledged that the impulse behind Datahero comes from the same place.
“Mixpanel’s a great example of someone who’s doing that right for web, and they’re doing a great job of making website analytics available to anyone,” Zabel told us. “What we’re seeing though, and how we’re different, is that there are a lot of different data sets, because people are storing this information online [in various places and services].” Datahero wants to help people collect relevant information from across their services, including things like MailChimp campaigns, social media presences, and more, and then offer them not only tools to wrangle that data, but recommendations about the kinds of insights they might want to glean from that combined info.
That ability to not only help everyday users make sense of big data, but also to recommend ways in which they might want to use it, is what could help Datahero stand apart in a sea of big data-focused startups. But Datahero is still only in alpha, with about 100 clients on board so far. The company hopes to launch a public beta by the end of this year, at which time we’ll get a peek behind the curtain and a better idea at how they’re wrangling big data for the little guy.