The Download: For two big data firms, a small investment to get off the ground

November 18, 2012

A pair of local upstarts looking to tackle different facets of the big data problem collected early-stage funding from investors last week.

Companies have access to more information than ever before. The ubiquity of the Internet and rise of cloud computing means all of that information — dubbed “big data” — can be stored and processed more easily.

The challenge for companies, though, is analyzing it in a way that allows them to operate their business more efficiently and effectively.

Enter firms such as Zoomdata and Always Prepped.

Zoomdata allows executives to view their data on mobile devices in the form of easy-to-understand charts, graphics and illustrations. Zoomdata, which spun off from parent company Augaroo in September, raised $1.1 million last week from 10 local angel investors and institutions, founder Justin Langseth said.

“Our goal is to bring the power of big data analytics to the non-technical business user, and to turn real-time data streams into tactile, three-dimensional data art,” he said.

The Reston-based company has 12 employees, but Langseth expects to add more as the firm ramps up development of the product and prepares to sell it to more customers.

“We realized we needed more engineers and more customer-facing people to properly go after this huge opportunity,” Langseth said.

Rockville-based Always Prepped wants to handle data in classrooms.

The young firm raised $650,000 from angel investors to create a Web site that aggregates information from different databases where teachers keep record of students’ attendance and academic performance.

Always Prepped got its start as a place for students to practice math problems online, but founder Fahad Hassan said educators already had a plethora of online teaching tools. Nine months ago the company switched to building a dashboard where teachers could see all of their information.

“Data is everywhere. It exists. We’re just pulling it into one place and our goal is to make it consumable for teachers,” Hassan said.

True Ventures, a venture capital firm with offices in San Francisco and Great Falls, led the round. Hooman Radfar, the chairman and former chief executive of McLean-based AddThis, also participated.

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.
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