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Mark Cunningham Speaks About What He Would Do Differently

Mark Cunningham joined Infostrux CEO, Goran Kimovski (Kima) for a live fireside chat. During the discussion, they covered a wide array of topics including the history of Business Intelligence, the Data Analytics industry, and technology trends that shaped and will continue to shape the industry.

Kima bubble_Icon (1)Kima: I want to go back a little bit to the cloud analytics platform that you’ve been building (Indicee), and that I was a part of. I saw a pitch recently from another company that almost looks exactly like what we were trying to do over a decade ago at Indicee. The idea was to automatically have the data integrated and modelled so you can make the dashboards and reports. I was speaking with my co-founder and CTO, Milan, who was a part of Indicee at some point as well. He agreed that the pitch looked exactly like what Indicee was trying to do. In fact, one could make the argument that Indicee was a little ahead of the time.

Is there something you would do differently now than you would look back a decade later? Whether it’s a technology, the business model, the product functionality, etc. if you could go back and do it all over again, would you approach it differently?

Mark bubble_IconMark: I would certainly do things differently. One of the struggles we had in the analytic BI industry was that it was always very technology / IT focused, very centred around software developers, but we struggled with the business users. So the vision of Indicee, and a lot of these cloud analytic tools that exist today are really about empowering the business user. We wanted to take the entire BI analytics and roll it all into one application – put a user experience on it, dumb it down, make it easy, and charge $20 per month.

It was sort of like we were combining consumer and enterprise together.

Back in 2008 when we started Indicee, Salesforce was the king of the cloud castle, and there really weren’t any other players. So we were very early in the market. We were venture-backed, it was the exciting new industry, so I think a lot of times when you’re building a company, timing is everything. I think we were just too early to market.

We had a good exit, it was nowhere near a billion dollars like Looker (or whatever the number was). But, to your point around the pitch, if you look at Looker and what our pitch deck was, it’s almost verbatim. In fact, after we exited, a VC from Looker sent me a pitch deck and said, “Look familiar?”

Even today, if you look at their website, it is still so similar to what we were doing.

There were a lot of players in this space trying to figure this out with similar ideas. If I were to rewind, I would probably get more focused, which is what I tell all my start-up founders that I work with. Don’t try to boil the entire ocean. I often ask, “If you could focus on just one thing, what would it be?”

What we were really good at, which you know, was the data access / aggregation / modelling – essentially, getting the data set up for people to be able to do analytics on it. We would have been better off just cutting off our user experience and focusing on the modelling side of it. Potentially a very early version of Snowflake. Basically, a 2010 version of Snowflake where you can put data in the cloud, model it, and tell that story and really double down and focus on it. We were really strong at it and we had a whole great team of people from Crystal. 

That would have been a great place to be rather than trying to solve an entire problem.