Does the world need a new charting app for tablets?
Chartcube, a Burlingame, Calif.-based company headed by ex-execs from Evernote and eBay and backed by $4 million from Shasta Ventures, thinks so.
Founded last year, the company today launches its free app, with such calling cards as an easy-to-use interface, a design optimized for tablets, and built-in sharing/reviewing tools.
The problem to be solved, CEO and cofounder Pankaj Tibrewal told VentureBeat, is that “there is no good way to review, share, and discuss data on a mobile device.”
He said the idea came to him when, as COO of the major clothing retailer Pantaloons in India, he tried to have a team discussion about retail metrics printed on large sheets of paper and spread around a floor.
Most people use Excel-generated charts pasted into PowerPoint for presentation and email with attachments for discussion, Tibrewal said. Chartcube is designed to combine the features of all three tools.
“We’ve brought data, story, and conversation together,” he said, so that decisions can be made with everyone on the same page (i.e., screen).
Data can be imported from an Excel document via the Mail app or an integration with Dropbox. Chartcube automatically creates a variety of charts representing different views of the data, which can be navigated by a turnable cube interface or reordered. A user can drill down from top metrics to details by tapping on the graphic, and sharing/commenting are built in.
Algorithms make modifiable assumptions about the data to build the charts, such as assuming that numbers are metrics and text headings are dimensions, or determining if there is a one-to-many relationship. Swiping horizontally can change the metric, while swiping vertically changes the dimension.
The idea, Tibrewal told us, is “applying insight to what people are doing with their data,” and allowing people to query the charts with those three gestures — tapping, and the two kinds of swipes.
This first release is for iPad only, and the company said it is planning for iPhone and Android phone versions within 12 months.
The familiar freemium business model will offer premium features — undecided at the moment — at some point, plus an enterprise version eventually. But for now, the company said it is focused on how users respond to the app.
As for competitors, Tibrewal said he doesn’t “see anyone at the intersection of data and collaboration” with such a user-friendly interface. He noted that, like Evernote, Prezi, and Quip, Chartcube is carving its niche out of what’s not in Microsoft Office.
Tools like Tableau offer business intelligence-focused data visualization and collaboration on the high end, he pointed out.
And, he added, while “DataHero is a web HTML5 product viewable on a mobile, Chartcube is a mobile rethink of how data can be viewed on a small touch screen.”