Yesterday LeCamping Season 2 company qunb finally opened their search engine for finding, compiling, and comparing figures to the pub. The company has build its platform of open data and aggregated data on the basis of one premise: researching figures is hard, and it shouldn’t be. With a rapidly growing list of sources for data, their beta allows you to search by keyword, say”the internet,” and quickly find statistic on the number of internet users by country, for example. If you search for a figure and can’t find it, the site quickly allows you to submit your query to qunb, where the qunb guys will throw it in the backlog of data to add.
— qunb (@qunb) 3 juillet 2012
All the data. All the sources. Data.
At first thought, the idea of gathering any figure that you could possibly need sounds ridiculous – I mean, how many oak trees are there in California now as opposed to 10 years ago? You see. That’s hard information to find. But qunb is jumping each hurdle, one data set at a time.
Testing out the product last week at l’After – the quickly expanding startup shared working space which is home to many ex-LeCamping startups, as well as plenty of others – I took the figure-graphing site for a test spin when I wanted to graph the GDP of France vs. the rest of Europe now vs. 10 years ago. A quick “GDP” keyword search gave me GDP info on every European country in ten year increments going back a couple decades. Using their graph-editing interface, which is arguably not UX-optimized, but is not lacking in customization, I quickly pulled out the figures I needed for the right time period, added in a few slots and changed some axes, and there I had the graph I was looking for.
Infographics – the friggin’ future
With the infographic train having well left the station, startups lie HackFWD’s Infogr.am have been swept up like hotcakes, looking to monetize the trend. My largest complaint for most of these services has been that they went design-first, figures-second. That is, they give you a fair amount of templates for outputting your graphs, but inputting the data is practically manual, with a few background calculations and automatic adjustments to pie-charts. QUNB may not be quite there yet in terms of design and sexiness, but they’ve got the data, and are most likley an API away from allowing 3rd party users to create infographic templates on their platform that can be sold, with the unified data power that qunb carries.
While an API might be my fantasy, it’s certainly not on qunb’s roadmpa for now. The site’s press release hinted at premium data in the future, which VP of Marketing Mathieu Goudot told me is the next wave of data that they’re looking to get their hands on. Readers of premium white papers from Gartner, Forrester, and other analytics research companies might be willing to fork out the hundreds of dollars for a solid analysis of a sector, but I’m sure there are a fair amount of customers who would pay just to have the data, which is where qunb can help. Why not compare the growth of the games sector in France to Germany? What about the number of startups in New York vs. Silicon Valley by annual revenue? These facts like hidden in expensive white papers like that of Digital Capital.
The startup also hopes to allow users to have profiles of graphs they’ve made, as well as the ability to export your graphs into common formats for use elsewhere.
I’m excited to see the company take the next step, and think that they’re well on there way to being the unified repository for data. There backend is more than just a giant MYSQL database – they’ve found a way to make compare figures that don’t seem comparable, and that is powerful. If they continue on the road there on, and if there vision remains as big as it is now, I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future.