NYC startup and TechCrunch Battlefield winner Enigma has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding, the company has revealed today. The new round was led by Comcast Ventures, and includes participation from American Express Ventures, Crosslink Capital and the New York Times Company. Some of the new funders are clearly strategic partners, who are interested in seeing where Enigma’s unique approach to mining public data can take them.
Enigma launched at Disrupt in NYC last year, and since then it has offered up access to its platform for accessing public data via API and end-user dashboard on the web. Already, the company has partnered with big name companies including the Harvard Business School, S&P Capital IQ and more. The startup gathers public data from sources including FCC documents, government databases, and many, many more using data crawlers set loose on the web. The real value of the service lies in its ability to make sense of all that data, however, and index it in a way that makes it easy to retrieve by even people who have no special training in data analytics.
“This year is really going to be about developing the public data graph, which is really our marquee huge next iteration,” explained co-founder Hicham Oudghiri in an interview. “What we’re trying to do is not only collect all this information but interpret it. We think that we’re pretty far in terms of clearing those obstacles ahead of us, technologically, and we’re just super excited to have partners who believe in that vision and that goal.”
This group of investors has strategic goals for Enigma’s platform: There’s a financial service firm and two media firms in the investor pool, so what the company aims to do during the next year splits along those lines, too. There’s a concerted effort working with financial organizations to increase access to credit for small businesses, Enigma’s founders tell me, leveraging publicly available data to replicate some of the expensive, closed proprietary systems used by larger organizations. For news orgs, the data store offers a chance to break and augment stories, and we’ve already seen some of the results of that from Enigma’s partners like the NYT. While they have clients, the focus isn’t on revenue yet, the company tells me.
“The focus from our investors is less on profitably and more on size and quality of the deals that are coming through, and the partners we’re signing up,” said co-founder Marc DaCosta. “We’re very happy in that regard, and we haven’t felt a crush to make this an all-out SaaS business or anything yet. Public data as an industry is still very early. Everyone knows there’s an extreme amount of value there, but we’re really in that first phase of the cycle where players like us and like our clients will start to put that first set of use cases on the table.”
If Enigma can not only collect the data but also make sense of it, it’ll be able to much more easily prove its value proposition not only to large media and financial clients, but also to average users and people who want to better understand what the mass of publicly available data actually means to them. At that point, the company’s API (and a consumer-app facing version it’s also working on) should appeal to an even wider potential client group.