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Startup Spotlight: Prequel
All Things Venture #027
Hey Everyone! Dez here from All Things Venture. Today we’re going to be talking about data. Data, in a lot of ways, is like an iceberg - you only see the tip of it. Having readily accessible data is critical to any business, and being able to derive insights from your data can allow you to stay one step ahead of your competition and be consistent in your pursuit of innovation. Data Analytics roles and teams have become more popular over the years (The BLS sees job growth in this area at ~28% through 2026), as the amount of data we produce as a society has grown exponentially. That being said, Data Analytics roles can vary across companies. For example, here’s part of the description for a Senior Data & Applied Scientist role at Microsoft,
“We are looking for a Senior Data and Applied Scientist with strong analytical and development skills to join our expanding team. The ideal candidate has extensive expertise in machine learning and is passionate about creating business value through building robust and performant cloud-based solutions infused with AI. They should be comfortable with the end-to-end ML/AI solutions development process, starting from understanding the customer business problem and ending with production implementation of machine learning pipelines.”
Here’s another job description, but this time, from Facebook,
“We work directly with leadership and horizontally with data science teams that are embedded throughout Facebook. This includes building foundational understanding of how the Facebook ecosystem and the different pieces come together, identifying the right health metrics to evaluate ecosystem health, and constantly challenging our current understanding. Some projects include quantifying the incremental value of the various Facebook services and understanding the effects of increasing friend connections. We are looking for a Data Scientist who can see the big picture, identify pivotal questions, work closely with leadership, and lead data scientists around the company to help steer the Facebook strategy.”
These job descriptions are slightly different, and I can only imagine that there will be nuances to each of these jobs as well. That being said, it feels pretty clear that the primary responsibility of any of the above roles, will be take to make sense of, and analyze, massive amounts of data to drive impact within the business. That impact can be on the spectrum of powering new products, which it sounds like is the case for Microsoft, or on the spectrum of identifying patterns and trends, which seems more of what Facebook is trying to do. Either way, while the primary job function is to deliver concise, accurate insights from data at scale, there is a massive, and nontrivial amount of work that goes into simply preparing data to be analyzed. This is where today’s Startup Spotlight, Prequel, comes in. Put simply, Prequel sets up the internal infrastructure for companies to analyze their data rather than spend massive amounts of time organizing, cleaning, and preparing data. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Conor McCarter, the CEO and co-founder of Prequel. We had an amazing conversation on what it’s like being a founder, his vision for Prequel, and how is previous professional and academic experience (Notre Dame, consulting, HBS) has led him to where he is today. At one point in the conversation, Conor and I were talking about his journey and some of the decisions he’s made, including his decision to leave HBS to pursue Prequel full-time, his response, is indicative of the optimism and forward thinking so many successful entrepreneurs have,
“I have no regrets whatsoever.”
You gotta love it. With that being said, let’s dive right in and learn more about.
What is Prequel?
Prequel makes data analytics easy for startups -- we help them centralize their data and generate insights. To do so, we set up a data warehouse, copy data from all over the business, transform the data into a format that is easy to understand, and finally, provide visualization.
What led you to build Prequel?
Actually, when we first started, we were building a different data tool - one that helped growing companies make sense of all of their data within their data warehouse. While we were in YCombinator, we were talking with so many founders who were just having trouble setting up their data stack in the first place, that we decided to build Prequel for them.
Who do you believe Prequel is best positioned for?
We're very focused on early stage teams -- think Seed through Series B -- who are eager to start making use of their data, usually in the software or ecommerce space. Startup teams move fast and it's simply not feasible for them to spend months hiring and setting up so many pieces of infrastructure just to get the first chart. We provide everything out of the box and can get up and running in less than 30 minutes which really resonates with fast-moving teams.
What are some of the challenges that you face at the current stage for Prequel?
I think the biggest challenge for me, personally, is the constant prioritization exercise that running a company entails. Between writing code, talking to customers, hiring, and everything in between, it feels like there's never enough time in the day. So deciding what actually needs to get done and being comfortable with that decision at the end of the day is my greatest challenge at our current stage.
What defines success for Prequel over the next few months?
We're always looking for more users that need what we're building and who are excited to provide feedback until we've solidly found product-market-fit. Over the next few months we'll be focused on onboarding and delighting another cohort of growing teams that truly feel the pain points we're solving for.
What advice do you have for any aspiring entrepreneur?
Do whatever it takes to get in front of real users, and build for them! We're most inspired by the teams that ship quickly and iterate often on the awesome feedback their users are providing, and we try to do the same as best as possible. I think the transition from idea to real product is one of the most important steps an entrepreneur can take, even if the "product" is extremely simple.
What is your wildly ambitious vision for Prequel?
We want to be the easiest and most delightful data company for companies of all sizes, making data "just work" for companies without the headaches that exist today.
That’s it for this week everyone. I hope you all enjoyed the article!
Let us know what you think in the comments, or shoot me a note directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers everyone!