Start-Ups

How Domo built one big data platform to rule them all

Big data is one of the most talked about tech advancements in recent years. Here's how Domo built a business intelligence tool platform for big data in business.

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 Image: Domo

Big data's rise to prominence in recent years has been swift and powerful. As storage got cheaper, larger companies in Silicon Valley began to get a hold of products like Hadoop to analyze the large swaths of data in their daily activity streams and their archives. The market soon exploded and enterprise tools such as Cloudera made a quick rise to prominence.

While individual data sets or types of data became easier to analyze, it was still difficult to round up data from multiple sources and see it all in one place. This is precisely why former Omniture CEO Josh James founded Domo in 2010, to give businesses a way to visualize their data no matter its origin.

"As Omniture CEO, I saw how real-time access to web data gave online marketers the insights they needed to optimize their online spend and make more profitable decisions," James said. "I was frustrated that, as CEO, I didn't have that same access to data about my own business. The data I needed was spread across the business and held in multiple sources. I knew where the information lived and I knew who I needed to call if I needed an answer, but when I finally received the information I requested, it was often no longer relevant. As a result, it was almost impossible to know my business the way I should, and know it in a way that allowed me to make the most impactful decisions for our business."

Domo bills itself as a business intelligence tool, and the goal of the product is to bring a business together with its data, and to be able to measure multiple data sources against one another. It automatically pulls in data, in real time, from spreadsheets, social media, on-premise storage, databases, cloud-based apps, and data warehouses. Data points are presented on a customizable dashboard so employees can view the information in way that is easy to digest and relevant.

Big data without analysis is essentially worthless. But, once you have performed analysis, it helps to have it laid out in a relevant and easy-to-navigate way. Four years since its start, Domo's customer portfolio includes: eBay, Goodwill, Nissan, National Geographic, Air Canada, and Ogio. Ken Grossgold, director of marketing operations for Sage, another Domo customer, said that the ability to consolidate data is what initially attracted him to Domo.

"One of the larger challenges that face marketing organizations today is disparate data from multiple sources," Grossgold said. "As companies are moving their marketing activities more and more into the cloud and into social media, and with the SaaS products and tools, there's all of these different data sources. So, you need toolsets and systems to be able to collect all this data to analyze digital body language and behavior of your customers or your contacts; and that's what Domo does."

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The Domo office in American Fork, Utah.
 Image: Ben Child/Domo

Once customers choose the data inputs they want to bring into the Domo platform, they have the ability to overlay it on top of other data points or compare it against conflicting data. This is especially helpful when you want to see how metrics are being measured across different channels. According to Todd Chaffee, managing director and general partner at Institutional Venture Partners who invested in Domo, that ability to glean new insights from existing data is key.

"A lot of times those key metrics are coming from key metrics are coming from different operating systems," Chaffee said. "So, when you can actually combine the data sources, you can get insights that you normally wouldn't get."

Additionally, Domo has other offerings such as a functionality that allows users to share or have a conversation within the Domo platform. So, if a marketing team wants to chat over a specific dashboard that shows engagement numbers, they can brainstorm over relevant data sets of their choosing. Grossgold said that it's not just a pretty picture, but a place to get actual work done.

When asked whether or not he considers his company a startup, James replied that the company will "always have the soul of a startup," but he thinks it is a little beyond that. There is still a strong startup culture at the office. According to the website, employees are called "Domosapiens," and customer wins are celebrated with bright lights and disco balls. They even have a seven-foot-tall rooster in the office. While the culture is casual, the numbers are serious.

In the first 18 months of selling, James said that Domo closed more than 500 paying enterprise customers, and that the company is seeing 25-40% sequential quarter-over-quarter growth. According to James, Domo is eclipsing anything he experienced at Omniture.

So far, the company has raised more than $250 million for a laundry list of angels and VCs, including: IVP, Founders Fund, GGV Capital, and Greylock Partners. James said that the potential is huge and he expects Domo ten times as great as what was created with Omniture

The takeaways

Domo CEO Josh James shares his advice for budding entrepreneurs.

1. Don't lose sight of your vision. It's easy to get distracted when building a product and to just create what the customer wants. Listening to customers is a good thing, but NOT until you've built a product that represents your vision. Once that is done, THEN focus only on the customers and they'll take you to the Promised Land.

2. Pay a lot of commission to sales people. They are the ones who smell blood in the water. They are the first rats off the ship and are a pretty good leading indicator for what you have to do to make your business successful.

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About

Conner Forrest is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. He covers Google and startups and is passionate about the convergence of technology and culture.

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