Many companies use the ‘interactive’ buzzword in describing their product, while struggling to explain what it means practically. With a growing number of data visualisation solutions on the market, we were not particularly interested when we first heard ZoomCharts pitch ‘the world’s most interactive data visualisation software’. But stick around – I am about to show why their demo let us and Imprimatur Capital, whose investment in the company now amounts to EUR 700,000, reconsider.
ZoomCharts is a data visualisation software development kit (SDK) and API library created for developers who want to enable their users to intuitively explore data. ZoomCharts move data exploration from keyboard-centric user interfaces with numerous menus and input fields to a touch- and sensor centric interface that is particularly important for mobile devices. And there are several things special about them.
Firstly, ZoomCharts make their data charts clickable and explorable. If you just visit their website and click through the products, you’ll know what I mean. Contrary to other interactive data visualisation solutions like HighCharts, ZingChart and FusionCharts, zoomcharts are not static – they adjust and zoom into data where you wish to while bringing the rest to the background. As the founders put it – where the story of static charts ends, the story of zoomcharts just begins.
Secondly, they managed to obtain Hewlett-Packard (HP), Swiss Life, D8 Corporation and about 40 other companies as their clients with EUR 0,00 marketing budget. Team’s experience with SEO and the results of their efforts are remarkable. HP is now actually exploring the solution and possibilities to license it for their enterprise customers. The follow-on funding will finally establish a marketing budget at Zoomcharts, with an aim to bring in even more customers.
‘The reason why very few companies have ventured into data exploration and interactive charts is because the HTML5 and Canvas technology is still relatively new and requires very deep understanding of the underlaying technologies,’ explains ZoomCharts CEO Janis Volbergs. ‘There were a few solutions built on SVG previously, but these were relativelyheavy and slow – not built for interactivity. Our library works almost instantly, not taking up our clients’ precious time. ZoomCharts has built their own chart library and is particularly proud of its network chart that has many applications for interfaces that need to show links between objects. It can be used to analyse networks of users, display product catalogues and tell stories.’
The story of ZoomCharts itself started three years ago with an idea coming from Gints Ernestsons teaming up with Viesturs Zarins, who at that time was working on an research project between Latvian University and Tom Soyer Institute in California. They decided to implement the idea of exploratory data visualisation together with Edgars Smirnovs and Janis Volbergs who had the required experience in design and IT business development respectively. 1.5 years ago they were ready to start a company. This is when their demo atracted its first EUR 200,000 seed investment from Imprimatur.
‘Their interactive visual analytics products are instantly appealing” explains Toby Moore, Managing Partner of Imprimatur Capital. ‘Their dynamic graph products empower developers to enable their customers to intuitively drill down and explore live data in real time and on touch-screen devices. Very few other data visualization tools are able to do this. With our recent follow-on investment of €500k clearly we believe in the team and the massive market opportunity they are targeting.’
If ZoomCharts succeed with its ambition to make ‘zoomchart’ synonymous to explorative data visualisation worldwide, we will have some proof to call Latvia the home of data visualisation startups. And with Infogr.am’s recent organised non-profit efforts of popularising data visualisation and acquisition of Visualoop this is not too far from reality.
Marija Odineca is passionate about Baltic startup scene, visiting interesting Baltic startups and gathering their stories. She also coordinates the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Latvia.