Redbird Promises To Make Everyone In Your Business A Data Analyst
Pity hard-pressed data engineers, says New York-based start-up Redbird, which has just announced a $7.6 million seed funding round as it seeks to come to their rescue. The cash will help the company make further improvements to its data analytics operating system – and support growth at a business where revenues have risen nine-fold since the beginning of 2021.
Why do data engineers need rescuing? The problem, explains Erin Tavgac, co-founder and CEO of Redbird, is that they are chronically under-resourced and horribly overworked. “We live in a world where businesses are told every decision should be data-driven and where data volumes are growing exponentially,” Tavgac says. “But most businesses are experiencing the same frustrations.”
One issue is that automation has not taken place – by some estimates, more than a trillion dollars is spent each year on manual tasks related to data and Tavgac believes two-thirds of that work should really be automated. A second difficulty is fragmentation – in their efforts to extract maximum value from data, businesses are routinely buying four or five different data tools that do not work together.
The biggest issue of all, however, is the scale of the task facing data engineers given their limited numbers. “In the businesses we work with, it is pretty typical to find a ratio of 100 commercial people to each data engineer,” Tavgac observes. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”
The combined effect of these problems is that staff in functions such as marketing, sales, finance and more are looking for support that data engineering teams have no chance of providing in anything like a timely matter. The promise of data and analytics is smarter, faster decision-making – a promise that is undermined if requests for a particular data project take weeks or months to complete.
Redbird’s solution is an operating system that not only provides a full suite of far more automated data services – spanning collection, wrangling, modelling and reporting – but also offers a user-friendly interface that does not require specialist engineering knowledge to use. The idea is that analysts in business functions should be able to manage many of their own data projects – all they have to do is point and click – freeing up data engineers to support them on more complex or technical assignments.
It’s a solution aimed at both parties, says Tavgac. “There will be many people in the business who know exactly what they want from a data project and will be able to use Redbird to get it without being at the mercy of their under-resourced data engineering teams,” he says. “Equally, the data team will have the time and the space to collaborate and co-create – to work with the business to develop the data solutions they need.”
The analogy he draws is to the early days of computing before simple, user-friendly operating systems made PCs usable by anyone; those without specialist coding couldn’t make use of the new technology. Redbird, then, is the data analytics equivalent of a Microsoft Windows on an Apple OS; it aims to put much more functionality within reach of everyday users, while still offering more complex features to specialists.
Tavgac, who founded the company with his brother Deren Tavgac, who now serves as Redbird’s COO, believes Redbird will evolve in the same way as these fundamental technologies changed over time. He expects to be able to offer voice-activated commands, for example, so that users don’t even have to touch a keyboard to organise data projects. He thinks third-party application providers will eventually want to offer tools over the platform.
That’s for the future, but customers are already signing up to Redbird in its current form. The company, launched commercially less than two years ago, has already broken into profit and is generating seven-figure revenues. Unlike many in the start-up space, Redbird is targeting larger enterprises – typically with revenues of $1 billion plus – which is where Tagvac believes the greatest frustration with data is being felt.
The company’s seed round has the potential to accelerate its growth trajectory and product development. The oversubscribed round was led by multi-stage investment firm B Capital, with participation from Y Combinator, Thomson Reuters Ventures, Alumni Ventures and Soma Capital, along with several other funds and angel investors. “We believe Redbird will become a mission-critical platform for enterprises to manage complex data workflows,” says Karen Page, General Partner at B Capital.