Pitching a “codeless” user interface that allows anyone in a business to develop applications for business intelligence, Skuid has raised $25 million in new financing.
Based in Chattanooga, Tenn., Skuid is indicative of the type of startup that is cropping up outside of the traditional innovation hubs of Silicon Valley and San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and New York.
In some ways, the company is an example of the “reverse gold rush” that investors predicted on this site as early as three years ago.
Nestled beside the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, Chattanooga boasts the highest speed internet in the Western hemisphere, a 1-gigabit public infrastructure project that may have “saved the city.”
Indeed, the Chattanooga choo-choo that would rumble its way along the track laid by the Southern Railway is no longer the main industry in town, replaced by post-industrial healthcare and services businesses and a major Volkswagen plant (a $1 billion investment into the small Southern city).
For Ken McElrath, the chief executive and founder of Skuid, the benefits of launching a business outside the cutthroat competitive environment of Silicon Valley was too good to pass up. Beyond that, spending $250 per month for 1 gig of internet service, versus the thousands of dollars it would cost on the West Coast, was also persuasive.
McElrath said the $24 million from new investor Iconiq (the money manager for the family wealth of entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg) and previous investor K1 Investment Management would be used to further develop the company’s technology — which allows anyone in a business to create toolbars and data visualization applications for business intelligence.
The “Skuid Model” connects with what McElrath calls a couple of point-and-clicks to several different data sources. Users click on any object, then drag-and-drop the object to different tabs or visualizations to get a view into company data.
McElrath is already teasing Skuid’s next release, a voice-activated user interface that would integrate with technologies like Amazon’s Alexa software (or Apple’s Siri) to provide intelligence through voice commands.
“If you’re trying to create an app, it would be like ‘Alexa create a table here that shows me all of my opportunities and has a filter that shows them by quarter,’” McElrath said. “Or… you’re a sales rep in your car and you say. ‘Hey Alexa… or Siri… open up Skuid and tell me who my primary contact is for HP in Palo Alto. And when you tell me who my primary contacts are… call that person.’”
That’s the future of programming, McElrath says. “It’s not a very distant future. We can very easily integrate those capabilities. You’ll start to see that voice activation stuff in our product next year.”