Cleaning data — preparing data for applications such as predictive analytics — takes time. In fact, data scientists spend according to a recent survey, an estimated 60% of their time is spent cleaning and organizing data. It’s not just time that is lost. According to Experian, “dirty data” costs the average company 15% to 25% of their revenue and the US economy $3 trillion a year.
On a mission to change things, Eric Crane and David Boskovic Flat file, a platform that automatically learns how to structure and sanitize imported data. With clients such as ClickUp, Square, AstraZeneca and Spotify, the startup is gearing up for the next phase of growth and closing a $50 million Series B round, bringing Flatfile’s total to $94.7 million.
Tiger Global led the Series B tranche with participation from GV (Google’s AI-focused fund) and Workday – the latter of which undoubtedly saw the applicability of Flatfile’s data processing pipeline to its HR operations. Scale Ventures and angel investors from Airtable, DocuSign, LinkedIn and Gainsight also contributed, Boskovic told businesskinda.com in an email.
“In particular, exchanging data and onboarding data from new customers can take thousands of hours as data is collected, cleaned, and moved from one company to another,” said Boskovic. “Examples include customers sending bulk payments to a credit card company, or suppliers sending supply chain updates to a food conglomerate. For large companies, data exchange can take more than six months to prepare data, which can lead to delayed customer onboarding, cost overruns and lost customers… We came up with a way to streamline the data exchange process to save them huge amounts of time and money. ”
Crane and Boskovic created the technology behind Flatfile at productivity startup Envoy, where they shared a mutual frustration at the many wasted hours spent manipulating and cleaning the company’s data. Through Flatfile, they specifically sought to address the challenges of data onboarding, where the wide variation between input files has historically made rules-based models ineffective.
Flatfile uses AI trained in over 25 billion “data decisions” to map and resolve schemas using files such as spreadsheets and CSVs. When the algorithms encounter an anomaly or a data type that they can’t handle automatically, they ask clients to make a decision and then add that scenario to a database for future reference.
Flatfile recently released a software development kit that allows developers to build on top of Flatfile’s components to access import, match, merge, and export features. While the company continues to offer an out-of-the-box import workflow, the kit allows customers with more specific requirements to customize the experience, Boskovic said.
“It basically lets our customers get under the hood so they can stitch together all the parts needed to move information between systems with maximum flexibility and at scale,” he added. “[The] platform enables companies to use their data faster. It enables employees to focus on their core qualities and leave the dirty work to us. By eliminating the thousands of hours companies spend and ensuring data is formatted correctly for their system, Flatfile helps them get their products to market faster and at significant cost savings.”
Flatfile competes with established companies such as Textract, Amazon’s service that can automatically extract text and data from scanned documents, and Microsoft’s data onboarding tool Form Recognizer. Google offers its own data extraction tools, including Cloud Natural Language, which performs syntax, sentiment, and entity analysis on existing files.
In any case, Boskovic says the pandemic and the economic downturn were huge growth opportunities for Flatfile — the pandemic because it pushed companies to migrate data to the cloud and the downturn because it pressured them to “prove their worth faster”. Flatfile’s customer base consists of thousands of developers and 500 companies, as well as several unnamed government organizations.
“Flatfile is in a strong position because it offers a comprehensive solution to a business-critical challenge. Although we still had two years of runway left, we established an opportunistic Series B to maximize investor demand, [and now] we have four years of runway to continue improving our operations around customer feedback,” Boskovic said. “This investment will be used to expand and support Flatfile’s fastest growing segment: global enterprises. has grown to approximately 75 employees and we expect this growth to continue for the foreseeable future. Annual recurring revenue is over $5 million and we expect it to more than double in the next 12 months.”
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