Charts and graphs, the end result of an analytic and research effort, are powerful. A good chart can anchor an article of 1,000 words. Shared in a slide deck, a chart can carry a lot of explanatory weight in a narrative.
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The real reason a good chart is so valuable, however, is that using one is a kind of shortcut. Someone else did the cognitive heavy lifting — the data sourcing, cleaning, aggregation, layout, labeling, and design. You can use it in your blog post, slide deck, or presentation, delivering insights more effectively than words alone.
When it comes to information, managing a large quantity of it becomes a search problem.
The Number Searchers From Brooklyn
Headquartered around the corner from a diabolically delicious pizza shop in Brooklyn, New York, Grafiti is a startup aiming to solve just that. Its stated goal, to build the leading search engine for charts and data visualizations, belies a broader mission: to help people surface insights from a mass of mostly-structured, increasingly visual information sources.
Grafiti has gone through a couple of iterations, launching first as a chart-making tool for data savvy people to talk smack with numbers on the internet and re-emerging as a search tool for data visualizations and other forms of visual information, like slide decks and research reports.
Today, the company announces that it raised $1.58 million in pre-seed funding led by FirstMark. Participating investors include Tuesday Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Alumni Ventures Group, and several unnamed angel investors.
The company was co-founded by Farhan Mustafa, a former economist and journalist for Al Jazeera, and Iain Bryson, previously a senior software engineer at Microsoft. The team has worked in various facets of the data and analytics sector.
Grafiti’s main product offering is its publicly searchable database of charts. Mustafa told Crunchbase News that the company has indexed over 500,000 charts from over 3,000 verified sources. He said that Grafiti has ingested over 4 million charts, but that many of those data visualizations weren’t from credible sources, were poorly labeled or otherwise failed to meet the platform’s quality standards.
“On the web or social media, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of noise from sponsored links, unverified sources, or worse, misinformation. Both people and businesses waste billions of hours each year combing through the mess to find credible information they can use. We’re making facts as easy to find and understand as gifs,” said Mustafa in a statement.
Grafiti launched in beta in late 2018 and has since amassed over 400,000 users ranging from consultants and analysts at firms like BCG and Nielsen to everyday folks searching for information and articles to share online. Most recently, Grafiti’s visual search engine has gotten some traction with members of U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s campaign and community of supporters, who’ve actively tweeted links to charts hosted on Grafiti.
Grafiti released a Slack integration in August, and the company expects to launch integrations for platforms including HubSpot, WordPress, and Microsoft Teams.
Grafiti is currently trialing enterprise access to its platform, giving companies a self-contained instance of its information tagging and visual search functionality, to accelerate internal teams’ research and analysis processes. The company is actively seeking partnership opportunities with media, research, and other analytics-intensive organizations.
“Data without context is just numbers, and we’re on a mission to make answers easier to not just find, but comprehend, by anyone,” said Mustafa.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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