Blockspring, a service that connects to spreadsheets like Excel and Google Spreadsheets to easier import data, said it has raised $3.4 million.
Instead of having to write specific code to import and sort data in a spreadsheet, Blockspring has several connections to services like Bing Search that will automatically populate spreadsheets with data. The company plans to release several integrations for tools like Tableau and Slack.
“Engineers have to do so much more beyond creating the service — they have to build apps and teach [business employees] how to use them,” Blockspring CEO Paul Katsen said. “It actually just sits between the developer and everyone else. It lets the developer spend less time trying to deliver new functionality, and lets the business person use this as building blocks”
For example, a Blockspring user can quickly pull in PDFs from the web and analyze them in a spreadsheet. That would include searching for those articles, downloading each one, and then analyzing them — such as searching for specific words. That data can be manipulated in many ways as there are APIs that are plugged into Blockspring.
“Imagine any web service out there — all we’re doing is standardizing each one. They’re all different and complicated,” Blockspring CEO Paul Katsen said. “Every single new one you learn, you’re like, how do I use this. For Google for example, for their service as well as other APIs, you get all these integrations that make your API acceptable and consumable by a whole new audience of people. It saves them hundreds of thousands in engineering costs because they don’t have to build that integration.”
Katsen was “the guy that sat in the middle,” he explains, doing consulting work and having a limited engineering background. He was gradually becoming more technical, but he and his two co-founders Jason Tokoph and Donald Pinkus (who were engineers) saw an opportunity to build something that would essentially sit in the middle of the developers and business employees, automatically building useful tools without taking up development time.
“It’s kind of, ‘man I wish i could solve it myself, but I really have no interest in learning how to code’ problem,” he said. “There’s so many people like that. They’re not trying to become software engineers; they’re marketers and reporters. There’s HR people, recruiters, salespeople, they have tools they really love and they have very specific problems.”
Next up for Blockspring, in addition to continuing to add new services like Slack, is building services for companies that plug into internal databases. A larger company may have a massive internal database that it uses to keep track of things like leads, and Blockspring will tap into that and help employees on the business side access that data more easily.
Update: Added a clarification that Blockspring supports Bing Search, not Google Search.