Startup profile: Geckoboard

Geckoboard is a technology startup which began in March 2010. The company provides a dashboard for businesses to see their key metrics in real time.

Geckoboard is a technology startup which began in March 2010. The company provides a dashboard for businesses to see their key metrics in real time.

The dashboard pulls together information important to the company from internet sources, widgets or in-house datasets. A company decides on its drivers and metrics and builds up a dashboard which collates different sources of information, which can then be communicated back to the team.

How does the technology work?

The Geckoboard web application allows non-technical users to connect to a large number of data services. The back-end system uses Ruby and Sinatra development tools and is hosted on Amazon Web Services with heavy use of Backbone.js on the front-end.

A company would traditionally visit each data service (such as Google Analytics, Github, Twitter, Facebook, one at a time to collate their analytics. But Geckoboard connects the different services using their APIs in real time. The company has also developed its own widget editor to build new widgets which sit on the customer’s dashboard.

“We can display data from 100 different sources. In addition we have a custom widget API that allows customers to connect to their own data and push that to Geckoboard,” said Paul Joyce, CEO and founder.

“The great thing about this is that we can grant access to third parties such as API owners, so they can develop widgets in an isolated sandbox without being exposed to the core application. We can then sanity check their widget code before pushing live and making it available for all Geckoboard customers.”

What are the benefits for IT buyers?

“The product allows people to see how their business is going, how it is doing against their core product metrics. It can be anything from checking the server is up, to the best sales person of the week - anything that identifies your business,” said Joyce. “We have a zero- or low-touch sales process - companies come to our site and sign up for a free trial. It’s self-service and they build their own dashboard.”

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Joyce claims that Geckoboard customers are able to make decisions from one dashboard that accesses real-time metrics. This single entry point means that executives do not need to spend time pulling together different reports from different areas of their business.

How will the technology work in a typical corporate infrastructure?

Geckoboard provides the user with a login, and the dashboard is available through a browser. Customers can sign up for a 30-day trial, add their widgets, and are ready to use the application. “You can view the data at a glance without having to call on someone in IT to dig out a special report. They have it at their fingertips,” said Joyce.

“One of the most difficult areas for any business is understanding what they should be measuring and when. We're building up a freely available body of content to advise and inspire businesses on how to get started with becoming more data driven.”

Who is the target market?

“Our target customers are businesses and initially we thought it would be small-to-medium businesses of a technical nature. Now we’re seeing large companies , US federal agencies, government departments, Fortune 1000 companies, brands, social media agencies. We don’t limit ourselves, but our biggest customer segment is small-to-medium businesses, particularly tech businesses,” said Joyce.

The company already has customers such as Groupon and Atlassian using the dashboard.

Background of the startup

Joyce started his career designing and building data warehouses for financial institutions and soon realised how lengthy the process was.

“It always struck me about the time and complexity it took to get data for key business people to make decisions,” he said. “It takes months to create a data warehouse, which is a long turnover time.”

While working at a bank, he dedicated his evenings and weekends to fleshing out Geckoboard before releasing an alpha version in July 2010. By the next month he had handed in his notice and was working full time on the new business.

“The main thing was getting design right. I’d been working in world of enterprise apps and software for a very long time. I say apps like ClickView and Cognos were very ugly, unusable, and not designed for humans. It is software which has tens of thousands of pounds of licence value a year, but struggled to deliver a lot of value,” he said.

The company has grown into an office of 12 people in the Shoreditch area of East London, within walking distance of a number of customers.

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