The Parisian platform automates the indexing and cataloging of data. The challenge ? Facilitate and streamline their use by business teams.
Publisher of a data management platform, the French Castor completes a series A funding round worth 23.5 million dollars. It was led by British investment fund Blossom Capital. Several business angels also participated, including Florian Douetteau (founder of Dataiku). Private investors already present in the capital are back in the pot. The operation follows a seed fund raising of 2.6 million euros carried out in November 2019.
Founded by four data scientists (Xavier de Boisredon, Amaury Dumoulin, Tristan Mayer and Arnaud de Turckheim), Castor markets a data catalog platform in cloud mode. “Much more than a traditional data catalog solution limited to compliance, it aims more generally to put information within the reach of data teams as well as business teams, from marketing to finance, including operations and product”, explains Xavier de Boisredon, chief operating officer of the start-up.
A Wikipedia of data
Castor’s solution revolves around a search engine designed to index the datasets present in the company’s various content silos. Its connectors work on some of the most popular data platforms: Amazon Redshift, Azure Synapse, Google BigQuery, PostgreSQL, MySQL or even Snowflake. But also on data visualization tools like Looker, PowerBI or Tableau. Downstream, the application decrypts the metadata in order to automatically document the information and dashboards that will have been referenced.
“Companies produce so much data that it is often chaos. Castor unifies this whole, makes it coherent and democratizes it”
“The search engine is thus combined with a Wikipedia of data that can be enriched manually”, specifies Tristan Mayer, CEO of Castor. To generate this documentation, the solution reconstructs the family tree of the data via a data lineage system. Objective ? Answer as many questions as possible from employees about existing data sets and dashboards. Where does the information come from? What business line does it belong to? What transformations has it undergone? Within the data warehouses, are certain columns equivalent?
“Companies produce so much data that it’s often chaos. Castor unifies this set, makes it coherent and democratizes it by deciphering its production context”, sums up Tristan Mayer. Among the main use cases, the CEO mentions the onboarding of employees. “Thanks to Castor, newcomers benefit from a guide to reading the data. This allows them to save precious time”, argues Tristan Mayer. “As for departing employees, they have an environment in which to deliver their data knowledge so as not to break the chain.”
AI under the hood
Castor’s priority? Strengthen its sales team already present in the United States where it has half of its customers. The opening of a first office across the Atlantic (in New York) is planned for this summer. “The strategy consists first of all of accelerating in the USA where SaaS has been adopted more quickly and then, secondly, of capitalizing on this experience to grow in Europe”, confides Tristan Mayer.
R&D will remain based in France. “In terms of product, we are going to focus on three areas: first, to optimize the search and analysis of information in order to make it ever more accessible, then to develop collaboration and community animation functions, finally improve the health of the data, in particular by removing redundancies and optimizing queries”, explains Tristan Mayer. Another development on the program: artificial intelligence. On this point, Castor already uses machine learning to analyze the use of data in order to make architectural recommendations. “We also use AI to personalize search results based on the user’s history. We are able to offer him specific dashboards or even joins between two tables in a database” , we add at Castor.
From 25 employees today, the start-up intends to grow to a workforce of 50 to 70 employees within a year. The challenge ? Maintain a monthly business growth rate of 40%. Claiming around fifty customers to date, Castor displays Deliveroo, Canva, ManoMano or Vestiaire Collective among its references. A nice launching pad.