Small businesses have traditionally been left out of comprehensive business intelligence offerings, because they require a lot of specialized, custom software to run properly and speak to a variety of data sources, and they often need special personnel to interpret results once they’re gathered. Cambridge, MA-based InsightSquared has a different approach, using subscription-based software-as-a-service offerings to bring sophisticated business intelligence to companies with smaller sales teams of between five and 200 individuals. Its model has attracted significant investment for a new Series A round of $4.5 million, including investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, NextView Ventures and Salesforce.com.
The funding arrives alongside a new Salesforce integration, which means significantly more potential reach in terms of InsightSquared’s appeal, since Salesforce has over 100,000 company clients. For InsightSquared, a big part of the appeal to customers are data connectors like Salesforce, Quickbooks, Google Analytics and others that allow users to quickly and easily plug in data from various locations for combined analysis to help deepen the picture the service can paint.
As for the funding, InsightSquared co-founder and Chief Product Officer Sam Clemens told BetaKit in an interview that they will be using it to expand the team in two key areas. “We believe companies should build things and sell things,” he said. “So it’ll be essentially people on the engineering side, on the ‘build it’ side of the house, and then half will also be on the ‘sell it’ side of the house on the sales team.”
InsightSquared is one of a young crop of companies that are doing cloud-based business intelligence on a SaaS basis, delivering for small companies what only large enterprises could once afford to get from bigger players like SAP. Others like GoodData, which was founded in 2007 and has so far raised $28.5 million in funding, and Birst, which recently announced a $26 million round from Sequoia, are similarly engaged in trying to reduce the complexity of business intelligence while also delivering the kind of big data insights that were previously unattainable for smaller companies.
The space is growing, with many new entrants on the scene in the past five years, including more narrowly focused firms like finance forecasting company 60mo, which was recently acquired by FreeAgent, might offer challenges for InsightSquared, but the vote of confidence represented by this investment reflects the size of the opportunity. Despite “tempered” business intelligence investments in 2011 according to a recent Forrester report, “interest levels remain high,” it says, and the area is still a primary focus of a large portion of SMB spending.