Startup Pivot: Small (data) Is The New Big (data)


Every day you tell yourself: “Okay, I got this. This startup thing is easy now that I am where I am.” And it would be partly true to think that; but also mostly wrong.

We won Le Web, we got into TechStars Boston, we were big in the big data scene, so everything seemed like we were killing it. But things were not as rosy as they seemed.

What gave us the cold shower?

Oh, just the simple fact we couldn’t clearly lay out a value proposition for our startup. We had ideas that we painfully articulated in a vision, and that was all. Every time our mentors and contacts were digging in and trying to let us formulate the true bankable value proposition for our users, we were stumped.

Yes exactly like this“Hello! – So what problems users are going to pay for you to solve? Hello?”


So we got out of the building and started listening to people. We did the famous Zoom-in Pivot (Lean Startup-style) and stopped thinking of ourselves as an R&D company but focused on shipping early.

Big Data is Too Fat for Lean Startups

After 1 year of being in the big data game, we wanted to find a way to make a webservice, a SaaS product in a market that is inherently service-based. A lot of our friends and competitors of the time have tried making a standalone product for the big data market. They all pivoted in one way or another.

We now believe the big data market is mostly comprised of huge corporations having each a specific set of problems, none of which are shared among their peers to allow startups to create a true product.

“Your product is magnificent, it has everything my competitor needs. I’ll buy. Add just one more feature.”

You know who has simpler problems to solve? Everyone.

Everybody loved our idea of making big data visual not because of the “big” part, but because of the “data” part.

That’s where our mentors came in and helped us see what we were in too deep to see: everyone struggle with their simple and small data to make a good report. 90% of Excel users don’t know how to use pivot tables. A company like Tableau Software is making millions with a slightly easier-than-normal BI tool.

What if we can help the real stakeholder of the data, and not the IT team, create beautiful and insights “data stories” from their data?

And this time we’re going to focus on specific sets of data, not only small ones.

And let’s continue the focusfest by addressing the Heads of Marketing and Sales having trouble making their weekly reports, not “everyone with a data problem”.

This is where we shrunk from a bloated R&D project to a focused product with a simple value proposition that appealed to our target:

“Make Google Analytics reports simple and understandable for everyone”.

Just Google Analytics, really? That’s… small.

Google Analytics is a start! We want to open next a SalesForce 1-Click Report, and in 2014 we want to visualise and understand Excel Files.

Small data is ubiquitous, because it is the data that helps real decisions. The ones you present at a strategic meeting or a sales pitch.

Small data is the data of action.

Small is the new big.

Bigger than it looks. Watch… Out…

Okay buddy, but what’s the big advice for me?

My advice to finding a good value proposition is:

1. Find a good problem to solve
2. Try not to solve it, find how shared it is
3. Really, like, don’t rely on intuition
4. If your problem is a set of problems, back to step 1
5. Pivot, because you did not know enough about the problem you thought you knew everything about
6. Based on 1 to 5, reformulate your problem, easier to do now, isn’t it?

At the end of the day, the problem you solve is your most valuable pitch. The infamous value proposition. Don’t be stumped as we were on choosing one. Don’t be set on a vague vision. Find a problem a lot of common people share and are able to throw money at. Seems simple, but it’s not.

Right now we’re still collecting feedback on the problem our Google Analytics data story solved, and would love you to try it out and shout at us.

Let me try qunb to give me a chance to shout at you