The 10 Coolest Big Data Startups Of 2013 (So Far)

Big Data, Big Bucks

Startups have been springing up in the big data market for well over a year now. Some of them build their own distributions of the open-source Apache Hadoop, some offer a new breed of analytics or visualization tools, and all promise to help organizations make sense out of the growing mound of unstructured data at their fingertips.

2013 has been a busy year for many of these new companies, some of which have made product debuts or locked down new rounds of investor funding. Here are 10 big data startups that have especially stood out so far this year.


SiSense, a startup developer of big data analytics software, has had a big year in 2013. In addition to locking down $10 million in its second round of funding, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company has seen its subscription revenue rise a whopping 520 percent over the past 12 months.

"Right now we have more business than we can handle," SiSense CEO Amit Bendov told CRN in April.

SiSense positions its software, called SiSense Prism, as an alternative to traditional business analytics tools. Through its use of advanced visualization capabilities and SiSense's homegrown ElastiCube analytical database, Prism is designed to bring sophisticated, data scientist-class analytics to everyday workers.

About 25 percent of SiSense's sales already go through the channel, Bendov said.


San Francisco-based startup Olset burst onto the scene in late 2012 with a vision of marrying the worlds of big data and travel. The result is Olset's virtual travel agent, a tool that leverages the power of big data to fully automate and streamline the online travel booking process.

Olset, which showcased its technology at the big data-focused Strata event earlier this year, said its system works by pulling in user information from sites ranging from Facebook to Expedia. From there, Olset's virtual travel agent can get a sense of how its users like to travel, the types of hotels they prefer and more. Then, based on those preferences, the tool suggests itineraries and makes bookings that are personalized for that user and that user alone. Olset CEO Gadi Bashvitz said users can even add in more niche preferences, like a firm bed or a room far away from the elevator, and Olset will factor them in.


2013 has also been a busy year for Gainsight, a startup developer of predictive analytics software, which raised $9 million in Series A funding and also appointed Nick Mehta, former CEO of LiveOffice, as its new CEO.

Gainsight said it will use the funding to pump more R&D dollars into its predictive analytics software and drive its "aggressive go-to-market strategy." Gainsight's software is made to integrate with's CRM applications, providing a platform for users to analyze customer data, retention rates and potential cross-sell and upsell opportunities.


MapR Technologies is one of a growing number of big data startups offering its own distribution of the open-source Apache Hadoop. The San Jose, Calif.-based startup, which brought its total capital funding to $59 million this year and is led by CEO John Schroeder, extends Hadoop with a range of features, including system recovery and advanced data management, so that's ready to be used in enterprise environments.

In June, MapR announced its Hadoop distribution is certified to run on VMware vSphere.


The true value of big data would be lost without visualization tools to make sense of it. That's why HStreaming, a San Francisco-based startup and member of CRN's 2012 Emerging Vendors list, has found a sweet spot with its suite of dashboarding and reporting tools that let users visualize and analyze data in realtime.

HStreaming applications can be used to visualize both structured and unstructured data, such as data collected from sources like video or embedded sensors. HStreaming CEO Jana Uhlig told CRN that HStreaming's most common-use cases include video analytics, particularly among military intelligence agencies, fraud analytics, and network analytics and optimization.

This year, HStreaming received $1 million in funding from Atlas Ventures, the venture capital firm backed by former Vertica CEO Chris Lynch.


Another big data startup backed by VC firm Atlas Ventures -- and the first to be backed by former Vertica CEO Chris Lynch -- is the Cambridge, Mass.-based Sqrrl.

Sqrrl makes Sqrrl Enterprise, a big data platform for building realtime apps that can analyze structured, semi-structured or unstructured data. According to Sqrrl, the platform can scale elastically to tens of petabytes of data and is meant to help businesses uncover "hidden value" in their data through interactive queries.

Lynch is now a member of the board of directors for Sqqrl.


According to DataGravity, a big data startup based in Nashua, N.H., led by CEO Paula Long, structured data, or data with well-defined schemas that businesses can easily store and analyze, only makes up a miniscule 20 percent of all the data out there today. The other 80 percent, the startup says, is unstructured, pouring out of sources like Twitter, Facebook, emails and blog posts, and is often more valuable, but more difficult, to tap into.

DataGravity is seeking to change all that with a new set of tools to help companies large and small leverage and analyze these unstructured data sources to make better, and faster, decisions. The company, which raised $30 million in VC funding this January, expects its first product to launch in 2014.


If Vertascale has its way, it could be the Google of the big data world.

The Menlo Park, Calif-based startup came to the Strata event earlier this year to show off SimpleSearch, what Vertascale described as being a "search engine for Hadoop." The tool, built to perform searches across big volumes of structured or unstructured data, provides indexing and realtime search capabilities so users can find the information they're looking for as quickly and simply as possible.

Vertascale, which is led by CEO Eric Muller, also said SimpleSearch can build a unique index that speeds up Hadoop queries by a factor of 1,000 times.

Think Big Analytics

Perhaps, surprisingly, one of the most buzzed-about big data startups in 2013 is a solution provider.

Think Big Analytics, based in Mountain View, Calif., is building a business around providing a variety of big-data-related services, ranging from consulting and engineering to the development of custom applications. Think Big is now recognized as one of the earliest big data-focused solution providers to emerge in the channel, boasting extensive experience in both Apache Hadoop and the field of data science.

Think Big raised $3 million in financing in April, backed by investors including former Cisco executive Daniel Scheinman.

Civitas Learning

Civitas Learning, an Austin, Texas-based startup that pulled in $8.75 million in VC funding this year, sees big potential for big data in the world of higher education.

Specifically, Civitas aims to help colleges, universities and the students attending them tap into what it calls "a wealth" of valuable data they may not even know they have. Civitas provides analytics tools that sit on top of higher education databases to discover "hidden connections" in that data. Their tools, for instance, could help students better understand which courses or degree plans are best for them, based on their prior performance, or help faculty increase student engagement, understand which students are most at risk, and determine the best time to step in and help.

Civitas, led by CEO Charles Thornburgh, was named one of Gartner’s Cool Vendors in Education for 2013.