Let Chilean based start up Junar organize the big data for you. Find out how Javier Pajaro’s answer to confusing data presentation on the internet created Junar.
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Current Residence: Santiago de Chile
Areas of Focus: Leading product development, prioritizing development initiatives, setting up product for market success
What’s it like being a technology start-up in Chile? Is there a distinctive start-up culture there?
Chile is a great country that in the past 2 decades has improved all its macro and education ratios and indexes. In the past 3 or 4 years it has decided that entrepreneurship is crucial for developing the country further and it has set the objective of becoming the Silicon Valley of Latin America.
All the programs are in place to change a culture that is currently better posed to creating great employees into a more entrepreneurial society.
For Junar it has been a great experience. We have been able to find great talent that is interested in doing great things. We have tapped into very interesting candidates and they really wanted to be part of Junar. Even in a culture in which stability is valued, we have found some risk takers and dreamers.
What is a typical day like for you guys?
A typical day ? what is that ? haha. It is hard to think about typical days in a startup. In our case we have a product development operation in Santiago, the operations team in Costa Rica, and we are currently setting up the US office.
A usual day in the Chile operation involves an initial scrum meeting in which the 5 members of the tech team sync up and cover what we are doing and how we can help each other. We usually have a couple of GoToMeeting calls during the day with the team in Costa Rica (for operations or Quality Assurance discussions) as well as with the CEO that is either in Costa Rica, in San Francisco/Palo Alto, or in Boston.
As widely dispersed as we are we all have a weekly call on Mondays in which we are able to bring all the product development, operations and biz dev perspectives together to re-prioritize if needed and to sync up.
There is always some administrative, legal, and accounting stuff that needs to get done, and we usually have some interactions with our investors or with the entrepreneurial community in Chile (as Start up Chile gives us exposure into different events). The other 80% of the day we code, code, and code.
What is Junar, why now, and what inspired you guys to start the venture?
Junar got started 5 years ago, and even though we have greatly evolved the product the vision still remains. Junar is a platform that makes it easy for internet users to easily find and use data.
Inspiration came as I (Javier) was working in a startup in Buenos Aires and I was trying to find data in the web for a report. I found out that finding the data was difficult, and when finding the data best I could do was to copy-paste it into my documents… and then I would need to manually check for updates. As a software architect I am I clearly saw that there should be a better way of solving that.
I started working and engaged my friend Diego with whom we have been further developing the product, the concept, and with whom we have been gaining traction with investors, with Startup Chile and now with great collaborators part of the team that is making this dream happen.
We clearly see that there has already been a revolution in how users discover content in the web. Google and Wikipedia together with RSS technology have helped on that (among other players). Junar will change forever how users discover DATA.
At the recent Launch Conference in San Francisco where Junar was introduced, one of the judges observed that agreeing on standards is the hardest part of data-stream management. How does your company / technology address this issue?
Standards are a tough question in nascent industries. There are initiatives driven by the Linked Data group, led by Tim Berners Lee. Then there are diverse APIs that are currently developed by the players in this industry, but yet without a standard way of communicating data.
Standards will certainly come, and we are always listening to what clients and the market says. We believe though that it is important to make it easy for users to find and upload data as well as to set up ways in which this data can be sent and used in different platforms. We tend to leverage on a minimalist approach that can then adapt to the trend that is gaining more traction. Our focus is on bringing users the best possible experience for just finding and using the data they care about.
What is unique about Junar’s web-based dashboard?
For example: If a user wants to find information in the web, he can try and Google the data. It may take time, but the data can be found. But the real problem is that in most of the cases, you will find big tables or she may end up facing huge data-sets that need to be surfed.
What if you can make it easy for users to find data that has been pre-digested or curated by other users in this community? What if this data can be easily grouped as the user wants ? What if these pieces of data (datastreams) or groupings of data (dashboards) can then be shared or used in office applications as live feeds?
This is what the Junar platform allows users to do. Whether you are a journalist writing a story and updated data is required, or a blogger, or a student, or a professional, or even an individual seeking data to make a personal decision, Junar dashboards allow you to quickly find data that has been curated by other users and that can be organized and used in very different ways.
What are the top 2-3 lessons you’ve learned so far about product development and beta launching?
First lesson: Innovation can come from all over the place. We have set up a rock solid team in Chile and in Costa Rica and whenever we face a meeting in Silicon Valley or in Boston we can clearly see that what we are building is competing head to head with innovation in those centers. Innovation can come from anywhere these days.
Second lesson: Even if innovation can come from anywhere, if it will succeed there should be a connection with Silicon Valley (at least in software and web). Connections, deals opportunities, and new ideas happen at light speed in the bay area.
Third lesson: leading a start-up team across 3 countries is hard… possible, but hard. It requires a lot of effort in connecting the right ideas, and in setting up the right communication channels. This was one of the key decisions that we had to make early on at Junar. Even though I would recommend start-ups to try to be all in one place, if talent is distributed and entrepreneurs are conscious of the challenges, it can be done.
Where is Junar going next, with products and strategy?
We have already launched a beta product and we have an extensive product road map we are executing by listening to what our clients tell us. We have a lot of new features that we will be launching in the coming weeks that will make it easier and easier, and better and better to find and use data. For example, a MS Excel add-in that will let users to consume Junar’s data streams from their spread sheets.