Fivetran, a new Y Combinator-backed startup that is launching today, wants to bring spreadsheets into the modern age and make it easier for users to work with messy data and analyze large amounts of information. Most people, for better or worse, use their spreadsheets as databases, and Fivetran acknowledges this by combining SQL-like queries with standard spreadsheet functions and statistical tools that will look familiar to users of more advanced tools like Matlab.
As the co-founders George Fraser (CEO) and Taylor Brown (head of product) told me earlier this week, the idea behind the project is that “spreadsheets have 50 percent of the power of programming and we want to bring the other 50 percent to spreadsheets.”
The service, which the team started working on last December, allows users to upload Excel documents, as well as CSV and JSON files and start working with them immediately (in the long run, the team plans to add direct connections to databases, too). To give people a better idea of the power of Fivetran, the founders also created a March Madness bracket simulator, as well as a set of tutorials.
Once they have added their initial data, users can manipulate it using Fivetran’s “step” system, which allows them to create additional sheets based on their calculations. This is a bit of a departure from how most spreadsheets work, but you can also still use your familiar Excel formulas (think SUM(a,b) etc.) to work with your data as well.