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The Startup Founder’s Guide to Analytics

This article was written by Tristan Handy. Tristan is the founder and president of Fishtown Analytics: helping startups implement advanced analytics.

I’m very confident of that, because today, everyone needs analytics. Not just product, not just marketing, not just finance… sales, fulfillment, everyone at a startup needs analytics today. Analytics powers every decision, from the strategic to the tactical, from the board room to your line level employees.

This post is about how to create the analytics competency at your organization. It’s not about what metrics to track (there are plenty of good posts about that), it’s about how to actually get your business to produce them. As it turns out, the implementation question — How do I build a business that produces actionable data?—is much harder to answer.

And the answer is changing fast. The analytics ecosystem is moving very quickly, and the options you have at your disposal have changed significantly in the past 24 months. This post reflects recommendations and experience with the data technology of 2017.

First: Why should you listen to me?

I’ve spent the better part of two decades working in analytics. In that time, I’ve seen plenty of things go well, but a lot more go poorly. I spent the early part of my career implementing legacy enterprise BI (ugh). I built Squarespace’s first analytics competency from 2009–2010 and raised massive A round with the data. I was then COO of Argyle Social, a social media analytics startup, and subsequently VP Marketing at RJMetrics, a leading BI platform for startups.

Now I spend my days helping startup execs implement analytics as the CEO and Founder of Fishtown Analytics. At Fishtown, we start working with companies who have raised an A round and help them build their internal analytics competency as they grow. We’ve been through the exact process I’m going to describe in this article with over a dozen companies at this point, including Casper, SeatGeek, and Code Climate.

I’m going to walk you through, stage by stage, how your startup should be doing analytics. At each stage, my recommendations are going to answer to the question “What’s the absolute least I can get away with?” We’re not here to build castles in the sky; we need answers as cheaply as possible.

Let’s do it.


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