Startup Spotlight: InsightSquared’s Data Analytics

Ann All

Updated · Apr 08, 2014

InsightSquared, a startup founded in late 2010, seems to be following a success formula right out of a business textbook. Its management team is packed with Harvard Business School MBA holders who possess a broad range of IT and business experience. The company is experiencing triple-digit annual growth in customers, revenues and employees. And its product is in the hot growth area of data analytics.

InsightSquaredLogoThe Cambridge, Mass.-based company's software is designed to make data analytics accessible to business managers, with software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications targeted to sales, marketing, finance, staffing and support teams.

“It's an exciting time” to be in the data analytics space, said InsightSquared co-founder and CEO Fred Shilmover, pointing to recent developments such as Tableau Software's highly successful IPO and a $125 million funding round for Domo. Research firm IDC projects a 27 percent CAGR for Big Data technology and services through 2017, which is six times the growth rate of the overall IT market.

“We're glad to be part of the upswing,” Shilmover said.

Though the startup's funding has been more modest than Domo's, last June it raised $8 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Atlas Venture, bringing its total to $13.5 million. Other investors include Salesforce and Bessemer Venture Partners, both companies that appear on Shilmover's resume.

Need for Better Business Analytics

InsightSquared used the cash infusion to launch its newest product, an analytics and reporting application for Quickbooks, in February. That product is about “closing the loop between finance and sales,” Shilmover explained. “Data gets handed off from sales to finance and then back to sales. The problem is, a lot of changes and corrections never make it into the CRM system.”

The company's goal is to become “the lens through which businesses see their data,” Shilmover said. Rather than rather than trying to build an all-encompassing platform that can connect hundreds of systems, InsightSquared wants to “go deep” in business areas that are hungry for more data services and support.

“Our belief is that companies will continue to buy best-of-breed applications like QuickBooks and Zendesk. They need to tie all of that data together,” he said, noting that InsightSquared integrates with Salesforce, QuickBooks, Zendesk, ShoreTel Sky, Google Analytics and Bullhorn.

Shilmover became convinced of the need for better business analytics while working for “It's a great company and a great culture, but not strong in reporting or analytics. Their core competency is building great operational apps, not building an analytics engine,” he said. “If a company that big and innovative has analytics challenges, you can only imagine how everyone else operates.”

Like Domo, Tableau and others, InsightSquared promises to lessen business people's reliance on IT for data analytics and reporting.  “IT does not want to run reports to get an answer to a question from the VP of sales,” Shilmover said. “The VP should be able to interact with the data him or herself.”

Future Growth Plans

InsightSquared's target customer is companies with under $50 million in annual revenue, Shilmover said. “We do not service the pizza shop at the end of street. Our customers have sales people and use software, but they cannot step into the traditional way of buying business intelligence.” He believes the company's apps “will be even more attractive for the midmarket.”

One of the primary ways InsightSquared markets its software is by listing six applications, three of them free, on the Salesforce AppExchange. “We deliver value early with our free apps and build credibility with customers so they want to buy more,” Shilmover said, noting the online marketplace offers a great way to piggyback on Salesforce's marketing might and build brand awareness.

Several members of InsightSquared's advisory team have led startups that were acquired by larger companies. However, Shilmover said such a move is not in InsightSquared's near future.

“Our focus right now is figuring out how many thousands of businesses we can affect. We want to build a huge business,” he said. Noting that the Boston Globe named InsightSquared one of its Top Places to Work in Massachusetts for 2013, he added, “We want everyone in the company to say ‘this is the best job I ever had.' We are figuring out how to do that, not how to make an exit in 12 to 18 months.”

Quick Facts about InsightSquared

Founded: November 2010

Co-founders: Fred Shilmover, Samuel Clemens and Bryan Stevenson

HQ: Cambridge, Mass.

Funding: $13.5 million, with investors including Atlas Venture, NextView Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and Salesforce

Product Category: Data analytics

Products: Marketing Analytics, Sales Analytics, QuickBook Analytics, Staffing Analytics, Support Analytics

Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.

  • Business Intelligence
  • Research
  • Ann All
    Ann All

    Public relations, digital marketing, journalism, copywriting. I have done it all so I am able to communicate any information in a professional manner. Recent work includes creating compelling digital content, and applying SEO strategies to increase website performance. I am a skilled copy editor who can manage budgets and people.

    Read next