The rise of big data has been well-documented this year, and along with it the number of companies, from DataHero to Visually, that are trying to make sense of large datasets for the average business user rather than data statisticians or designers. Toronto-based Venngage is one startup trying to tackle data visualizations for marketers, giving teams a way to visualize key metrics and share them internally. The company launched in private beta earlier this summer and launched in public beta this week, with companies including Facebook, LinkedIn and Publicis as early customers.
Venngage founder Eugene Woo is no stranger to data visualizations, having previously founded infographic platform Vizualize.me, which turns a user’s LinkedIn profile into a visual resume. That company won Startup Weekend Toronto in June 2011 and is still active today, and its user base was the inspiration for Venngage. Users were requesting the ability to make their own infographic, so Woo saw an opportunity to help enterprise users visualize their data. He decided to focus on company reports after beta customers including Facebook Canada used Venngage for internal reporting rather than public infographics.
“We looked at existing data visualization tools, and they were too difficult to use, expensive and not great looking,” Woo said in an interview. “Most were ‘enterprise’ analytics tools that were not suited for everyday business users. So we knew there was an opportunity for a cloud-based data analytics and visualization tool that was aimed directly at the business user.”
The platform helps marketers, sales teams and other enterprise users create data-driven reports without IT or design help. Marketers hook up their data sources, for now Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, and can then create a variety of custom reports, everything from traffic data to sales pipelines. Using a drag-and-drop interface, users can choose from 10 templates including customer segmentation and social media, and then add data sources to their reports, for example adding country and device to a report about website traffic, or adding Facebook trends to a social media report. Reports can also be customized for look and feel, and can then be exported and shared internally.
For marketers who know they want to drill down on data but don’t know what data points to pull to flesh out their report, Venngage also features a Q&A feature, almost like a Quora for figuring out what metrics to add to a report. For example a marketer could ask “which posts drive the most traffic to my website?” and the platform would populate a report with traffic sources.
“We live in a data-driven world where most departments are run by metrics – marketing, sales, customer service, operations, human resources, etc. Most of these departments currently rely on IT departments for their data needs, and we think that all of them could benefit from being able to independently explore and visualize their data in a beautiful format,” he added.
Woo said the target user is marketers at medium-to-large companies who deal with a lot of data. Users can access Venngage for free, though all visualizations have to be saved publicly, and have the Venngage logo on them. Pro accounts are $20 per user per month, and let companies save their visualizations privately, export their reports, and plug into the API. The company also offers custom enterprise pricing.
Woo said they will be looking to increase the number of available templates to 50 by the end of the month, and will be adding the ability to connect to Salesforce, MailChimp, Bitly, Twitter, comScore, and ecommerce sites including Shopify and Magento by the end of the year. The company is also testing an iPad app with enterprise users, and plans to open it up to all users down the road. The company is part of the JOLT startup accelerator in Toronto, and is looking to close a $1 million round of funding after graduating from the latest class at the end of the month.
While data visualizations are available through DIY infographic tools, by hiring a designer, or by building visual reports in-house, Venngage could be a good solution for marketers who are looking to communicate metrics in a visual way without sorting through spreadsheets or other data not friendly to the average business user. With social media analytics solutions like Radian6 and Sysomos already providing internal reporting for marketers, Venngage will need to find a base of users who want to go beyond charts, graphs and other data to provide comprehensive visual reports.