Narrative Science takes huge piles of numbers and makes summaries in the form of legible sentences and paragraphs.
Until recently, it had focused that skill on generating newspaper articles based solely on box scores. But now it’s entered the stuffy realm of enterprise software, having been integrated with complicated IT architectures at financial services companies and government agencies, chief executive Stuart Frankel tells VentureBeat.
And that could be helpful for companies that no longer want to employ people to perform tedious analysis of data and share their findings with colleagues.
And investors are recognizing the company’s progress with a $10 million funding round, which will help the startup build self-service web-based software, which could yield wider adoption.
One company that has seen the appeal in Narrative Science, military-focused insurance company USAA, has chosen to not only enter into a multi-year licensing deal with the startup but also make an equity investment through a subsidiary. Battery Ventures, Jump Capital, and Sapphire Ventures are also participating in the new round.
In the past several months, several startups capable of analyzing text, like Idibon and Clarabridge, have announced new funding, but Frankel doesn’t think it’s quite right to put Narrative Science in that category. Those other companies are “taking unstructured data and structuring that data, and then that’s just more data,” he said in an interview.
“I think there’s a clear kind of disappointment so far with the return on that data,” Frankel said.
In its infancy, Narrative Science picked up a reputation as something of a novelty by being able to automatically spew out articles that could fit inside the sports section of a newspaper, or producing a basic earnings story. But the startup has matured since then.
“We really want to be a technology provider to those media organizations as opposed to a company that provides media content,” Frankel said.
Narrative Science’s software could, for instance, help mutual funds by coming up with quarterly reports on the performance of their funds.
When humans do that work, Frankel said, “it can take weeks. We can really get that down to a matter of seconds.”
Narrative Science started in 2010 and is based in Chicago. Around 60 employees work for the startup, which will hire 20-25 people next year, Frankel said.
To date, Narrative Science has raised $32 million, including an investment (Frankel wouldn’t say exactly how much) from In-Q-Tel, the venture arm for the U.S. intelligence community.
Competitors include Automated Insights, OnlyBoth, and Yseop.