Canvas gives non-technical teams data mining knowledge without needing an SQL degree – TechCrunch

While some startups try to get people to ditch spreadsheets, Canvas, which is developing a collaborative data mining tool, is going all out with a spreadsheet-like interface for non-technical teams to access information they need without disrupting data teams.

Luke Zapart, who launched Canvas in late 2020 with former Flexport colleagues Ryan Buick and Will Pride, said the company was building a “Figma meets Looker” after struggling to find data while working at Flexport.

“Our data team would be inundated with mundane, time-consuming data requests that were beyond what they could handle, and then the business teams would give up waiting for days for responses, and basically just go to the intelligence tool business and hit the export to CSV button and just pivot into Google Sheets,” Zapart explained. encouraged him to leave Flexport and really try to understand his problem and fix it.

The data space is “going through a renaissance” where traditional business intelligence tools are unbundled by targeted, best-in-class tools, he added. However, business users are excluded from many of the benefits of the modern data stack unless they are proficient in structured query language (SQL) or have a well-staffed data team.

Canvas was created as a spreadsheet-based workspace that empowers business teams to make independent decisions without taking SQL courses and gives data teams time to focus on their strategic work.

Here’s how it works: Users start with their own “blank canvas” and can choose the data they’re looking for from a table of definitions provided by the data team. Once you find the data, you can drag and drop the table onto the canvas and interact with it the same way you would in Google Sheets. For example, use the “rotate” button to create a certain metric and then create graphs or tables.

“You can interact with the graphic and start dragging it around that canvas,” Buick said. “This is where it starts to look more like Figma, and we really found it to be a new way of trying to work with data, because it makes it so much easier to iterate, prototyp, and matching your mental model the way you want to think about the problem you’re trying to solve. The cool thing is, we know sales teams are going to get stuck, so that’s where the collaboration comes into play – you can tag team members and ask them to verify.

In addition to reducing questions to the data team, the company is seeing its tool adopted by startups who have found Canvas to be an easy way to reuse business logic already modeled in DBT, Buick said.

Sample canvas. Picture credits: Cloth

The company launched its platform to the public on Friday after raising $4.2 million in a round, led by Sequoia, with participation from Abstract Ventures, SV Angel and a group of two dozen investors. individual investors. The list includes data experts Calvin French-Owen (Segment), Taylor Brown (Fivetran), Boris Jabes (Census) and Olivier Pomel (DataDog), operators Jack Altman (Lattice), Tony Xu (Doordash), Ryan Petersen ( Flexport), Bryant Chou (Webflow), Max Mullen (Instacart) and angel investors.

Recognizing that building a data workspace for business teams would be a daunting task, the founders of Canvas decided to tackle the capital. Zapart said they were deliberate about the types of investors they wanted to work with, such as world-class data experts and data company founders.

The company currently has six employees and has a handful of paying clients and a number of design partners it works with. The new capital will be used to hire more engineers to build the company’s roadmap, which includes self-service models, and engage in a series of product launches while developing new go-to-market strategies. market and product development. Canvas will consider another funding round when it reaches the first 10 to 20 customers, Zapart said.

Konstantine Buhler, partner at Sequoia, said the company has a “cohesive and technically strong team” and that the modern data stack has created opportunities for great companies to be created and serve enterprise customers. In Canvas, he saw a company creating a collaborative interface for this entire stack.

“The advantage is that you have all your data in one place instead of uploading it to Excel and then creating pivot tables, which is quite difficult,” Buhler added. “Here you can just plug directly into the system and see it right in front of you. The team has done an amazing job together at Flexport and now they are tackling a problem that is very hardware and everyone can relate to. The big vision is if we can create self-service, that’s a huge enabler because it democratizes access to data and makes everyone in the business data-enabled as opposed to a few people who have full access.

Donald E. Patel