Chris Neumann is the co-founder and CEO of DataHero. The service takes data from numerous sources such as Google Drive, Dropbox and several others and creates customizble charts out of it. DataHero is free to sign up for, but there are paid versions that offer additional features.
Oftentimes businesses and individuals are overwhelmed by data and information. DataHero is attempting to help businesses and peolpe understand and and make that data work for them. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with comnpany co-founder Chris Neumann about the importance of a strong business partnership, how other experiences shaped his entrepreneurial journey and what challenges entrepreneurs must overcome in starting a business.
BusinessNewsDaily: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Chris Neumann: When I was younger, I loved drawing and wanted to be an architect. Then home computers came around and one day I wrote my first BASIC program.
BND: What did your parents do for a living?
CN: My father owned a car dealership and my mother was a vocational counselor. My entrepreneurial drive came from my father’s side of the family and my intellectual curiosity from my mother’s.
BND: Can you talk a little about your businesses and how you got your start?
CN: DataHero represents the synergy of two complementary backgrounds: my background in data analytics and Big Data, and my cofounder’s expertise in consumer interfaces (he previously worked for BMW, where he was responsible for designing the interfaces that connect products from Apple and Google into their cars). We both saw the increasing availability of data and lack of accessible tools for the masses as an opportunity to innovate. We believed that by combining our superpowers we could create something truly disruptive.
BND: What's the best part of owning your own business?
CN: The challenges that come with being responsible for making the final decisions. When you own your own business, there’s nobody else to fall back on, you can consult coworkers, advisors and investors, but ultimately the buck stops with you. You have to learn to make good decisions based on partial information. It can be really satisfying when things go right and incredibly frustrating when you make mistakes. At the end of the day, it’s a unique opportunity to learn and grow as a person.
BND: What's the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?
CN: I make mistakes every day. In fact, I have a big poster at my desk that simply says 'Make Mistakes.' One of the things that can really hold a company back is when people are afraid to make decisions for fear of getting it wrong. At DataHero, we’ve tried to build a culture that focuses on making quick, well-thought out decisions. It’s okay to make mistakes— even big ones— so long as you learn from them.
BND: What was your main motivation in starting this business?
CN: Today, we as individuals have access to more data than ever before. However, data analytics and business intelligence vendors remain focused on data at the level of large organizations. The only tool that most individuals have available to them is still Microsoft Excel. Though it is powerful, it is also difficult for many people to use and was never intended to visualize or analyze the types of big data we have today. Our goal with DataHero is to enable anyone, of any technical ability to be able to understand the data that matters to them.
BND: What previous experiences helped you in that journey?
CN: I was the first employee at Aster Data Systems, which grew from four people when I joined to more than 100 when it was acquired by Teradata in 2011. Seeing the journey of a successful startup from start to finish, including all of the highs and lows, gave me an incredible amount of experience that I’ve been able to draw upon countless times as we’ve worked to build DataHero.
BND: What was the biggest challenge you encountered and how did you overcome it?
CN: I think that the biggest challenge for an early startup is staying focused. In our case, there were so many different directions that we could have potentially taken DataHero in the early days that we had to be very thoughtful about where to take the product, especially given limited resources. We did this by talking to users—and potential users— as often as we could and making user-centric design a cornerstone of our development process. Every feature we build is the result of talking to our users and understanding the problems they’re trying to solve.
BND: What is the best bit of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?
CN: Find a co-founder who is different from you and complements you in as many ways as possible. You should agree and align on values, but also strive for diversity in other areas. It can be challenging to frequently debate your co-founder, but if you respect each other and remember that you both have the same goals in mind, the end result will far exceed what would have created had you simply agreed on everything from the start.