Data visualization isn’t always easy, especially if your data is coming from a wide variety of sources. Datahero, which is launching its private alpha today, wants to make it easier for individuals, small companies and even enterprises to visualize and understand their data without having to worry about data formats and SQL queries. The company plans to opens its web-based service up to the public later this year. As the company’s co-founders Chris Neumann and Jeff Zabel told us earlier this week, Datahero also just raised a $1 million funding round led by Foundry Group, with participation by Neu Venture Capital, Dave Kellogg, Tasso Argyros, Mayank Bawa, Mike Greenfield, and Jonathan Goldman.
The company’s co-founders are both tech industry veterans, but are coming to this new business from two different directions. Neuman previously worked at Aster Data, a big data analytics company that was doing “big data analytics” before anybody really called it that. Zabel, on the other hand, previously worked on consumer-facing products at BMW’s Palo Alto lab, where he was, among other things, responsible for BMW’s iPhone integration and Google Maps send-to-car-GPS functionality.
In an interview earlier this week, Neumann and Zabel noted that, in their view, there has been a big shift in how people want to interact with their data now that they have so much information at their fingertips. Current business intelligence tools, however, are often antiquated and hard to use. Combing their expertise in big data analysis and consumer-facing design, the two decided to tackle this problem.
While Datahero is still keeping its user interface out of the public eye, the co-founder told me that the idea here is to make it extremely easy to import data either directly from services the company is partnering with (though they wouldn’t say who they are working with) or from basic CSV files. Datahero will try to figure out how to interpret and display this data in the best possible way. Power users, however, will also be able to go in and manipulate the data and the way it is visualized in any way they want. This, says the company, will allow non-experts to do their own data analysis, something that is currently still hard in most business environments, making this space ripe for disruption.
It’s hard not to look at this product without wondering if this isn’t more of a feature that a company like Salesforce.com, SAP or Microsoft would offer as part of their overall business solutions. Neumann and Zabel, however, argue that what they are doing is more than just a feature, as they are not beholden to any vendor and let users import data from any source they want.
While the company isn’t talking about its plans for the future, it’s pretty obvious that the ambition here goes far beyond pie charts and scatter plots. With its team’s background in big data analysis, visualization is surely just one of the first areas the company plans to tackle and more advanced analysis tools will surely follow soon.