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10 Affordable BI Solutions For Startup Companies

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The hesitance of startups to deploy a BI system is commonly due to not having enough data to justify the maintenance and cost of implementing it. However, you need not wait to have big data; it’s better to start on a clean slate and with a BI system in place even as you build up data. More so, today’s business intelligence software providers are becoming standard and more accessible to startups as tech advancements made these systems quick to implement and more affordable. It no longer requires a separate IT team and the learning curve is significantly short.

BI Solutions Affordable For Startup Companies

What are BI solutions that are affordable for startup companies?

Majority of start-ups have modest budgets. In fact, in a research on Startup Funding, the average budget of a startup is approximately $6,000 in the UK. For the most basic inclusions alone, the budget would already have to cover costs for employees, marketing, borrowing costs, research, and technological expenses. Hence, start-ups can’t afford to make any errors to get the best out of every dollar invested. That includes getting the right software in the growing BI market.

Many startups begin with a low budget.

The BI and analytics market was expected to grow up to $20 billion by 2019 due to the increasing demand for this solution not just for large enterprises, but for startups and SMBs as well. According to Nick Heudecker, Gartner’s research director, there’s a shift of big data towards standard practices as “big data solutions become mainstream.”

With innovative technologies in the market, SaaS-designed platforms and cloud-enabled services are already available to startups without costing an arm and leg to deploy. This makes it possible for startups to facilitate various BI strategies without spending much on infrastructure expenses and leveraging the power of a data-driven approach.

The steady growth of global BI market due to the implementation of various industries and departments in the business world; making BI systems a norm to organizations’ workflows of any size.

But do startups have big data to start with?

Before delving into what are BI solutions that are affordable for startup companies (you can head straight to the list here) , let’s first tackle the elephant in the room: do startups have big data for a BI solution to be truly useful? The short answer is a qualified yes.

When you talk about business intelligence, big data is a buzzword that always comes next right around the corner. Gartner, a research and advisory firm, defines big data as data with high volume, velocity, and variety. It’s also worth noting that in many cases, determining how “big” the big data is relative to the organization’s size. Depending on your company’s frame of reference, five terabytes of data may not be much for larger enterprises but it may be huge for midsized businesses.

Business intelligence is often associated with big enterprises with big data sets. However, big data doesn’t just refer to size as it also includes variety and velocity. Furthermore, BI tools are not just for big data. First and foremost, BI is a set of tools to retrieve, analyze, and transform data into meaningful information. Data is just data without extracting the relevant and important pieces and performing an analysis to help businesses make intelligent decisions. You may checkout this in-depth article on what is business intelligence and its key features, purposes, benefits, and potential challenges.

Here’s how startups handle big data from scratch. For an early stage startup, not much. Many of them also don’t prioritize data reporting yet. Instead, most startups in its early stage focus on cementing their product/market fit. Hence, manual reporting done in Excel and Google Sheets may even suffice.

However, a startup undergoes a few stages. At its basic core, it goes from the early stage, then to seed stage, growth and establishment, maturity, and then, acquisition. Along the way, you’ll get your hands on big data and you’ll need to have tools that help you react swiftly to market changes with data-driven decisions. After all, startups often offer a product they can sell to a larger market.

Additionally, with growth and scalability in mind, having business intelligence solutions in place gives you the advantage of starting from a clean slate to build a clear, accurate, and consistent foundation for your data. This is crucial as startups are more exposed to business risks compared to their larger counterparts.

BI is also key to pivoting, the lifesaver for many a startup

To illustrate how you can use a BI solution, here’s a use case on pivoting for example. Startups, which are designed to grow fast, essentially have to respond to the need for pivoting, a key business attribute for innovative companies.

Pivoting refers to the methodology of developing a product or service, being able to determine if it’s not working, and then leveraging the technology to change products or markets. For this to be successful, decision-making must be based on relevant data gathered from various sources (for instance, market conditions). This is critical as today’s business cycles change quickly.

Below are some of the things a BI solution can do. To know more about its benefits, you may also read this 5 benefits of using business intelligence.

  1. Uncover overlooked or hidden opportunities
  2. Identify trends and patterns
  3. Determine problem and success areas
  4. Use data for decision-making
  5. Pinpoint areas to cut costs
  6. Help drive profit and ROI

What to look for in BI solutions for startups?

As a startup, the vital capability you need is accessing information and tracking activities and key metrics. These are essential for an “experiment-fail-learn-replay” cycle. For instance, you can execute a complete campaign for a product launching in a cloud-based setup. BI tools extract information from various channels, such as social media, to analyze the audience’s response to the campaign so you can facilitate a more targeted marketing campaign.

3 Key features of BI software for startups

When choosing a BI solution, here are the key features to look for:

  1. Data visualization. With constraints on resources, startups don’t have much time, money, and staff to analyze data. Dashboards give you a quick and easy view of metrics all in one place with a data-driven approach.
  2. KPIs. To make your dashboards work, having the right key performance indicators is critical. For startups, you must stick to a minimum amount to make sure they’re all relevant, especially indicators if your business is growing. Machine learning also helps ensure you get the data you need from the KPIs.
  3. Ad-hoc queries. Modern self-service business intelligence programs enable ad-hoc queries. This means anyone can easily ask questions ad hoc to know more about a specific data to save time and money. Data is also available for employees so they no longer have to rely on the IT department.

Buying factors to consider

These are the most important buying factors to consider for startups:

  1. Affordability. With zero or less capital for expensive BI tools, an affordable system is crucial. You can begin with the minimum viable investment that’s equipped with the key features you need and then scale up as necessary.
  2. Ease of use. Ensure your tool has a short learning curve with minimum time required for set up so you can immediately use it. Many systems are too complex with more features than what you’ll actually use.
  3. Customizability. Since startups need to do various ad-hoc analyses, your BI tool must allow you to retrieve data from various sources and customize your reports.

Price range of BI software today

Today’s BI solutions let you access the tool starting with a minimum investment. Some even offer plans for free. A good price range for startups to commence their search is from free plans up to plans that cost $100 a month.

From the products our experts gathered, you can have a robust BI tool without spending anything and they’re already equipped with the necessary features you need. Meanwhile, the most it can cost you is up to $75 per month.

Sisense, for instance, offers a program for startups to use the software for free with tools and features that are worth more than $120,000. Google Analytics, Statsbot, QlikView, Microsoft Power BI, and Zoho Reports offer free plans. Scaling up is also inexpensive with economical pricing for products such as Microsoft Power BI, Zoho Reports, and Tableau where you can purchase premium plans starting from $9.99, $25, and $35 per month, respectively.

Here’s our list of the most affordable BI solution for startups, starting from platforms that cost you nothing.

10 Affordable BI Solutions for Startups

1. Looker – by quote (has a startup solution)

looker dashboard example

Looker is a BI platform that uses SQL to harness data analytics and get real value from data. It enables the use of familiar business terms when asking sophisticated questions. Looker has a Startup Analytics designed for early-stage startups. This ensures insights aren’t lost from apps and tools that don’t talk to each other.


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Try out Looker with their free demo

The data analytics platform simplifies getting and querying data into and out of a single database or warehouse. This allows Looker to perform its SQL-based queries that even non-technical employees can do without the help of your IT specialist. Built for startups, it also ensures you own your data from any source and empowers your team using deep startup analytic insights. Since the pricing information of Looker is only available upon request, getting in touch with the vendor is required.

Detailed Looker Review

2. Zoho Reports – free

zoho reports dashboard example

Zoho Reports is a BI software that enables you to connect to any data source. Zoho is a popular SaaS application with a suite of products to help users run their business. As one of its modules, Zoho Reports is a platform is a scalable platform with features such as white labeling, collaboration, and visual analysis, among others.

It’s a robust solution that’s accessible for startups as its offerings start with a free plan for 2 users, unlimited reports and dashboards, and 0.1mil rows. Meanwhile, if you want to unlock more features, its premium plans are also affordable starting from the basic one at $25 per month. This includes over 100 data connectors and Zoho Apps connectors to easily sync data.

Zoho Analytics

Zoho Analytics

Try out Zoho Analytics with their free trial

3. QlikView – free

qlikview dashboard example

QlikView, a BI data discovery product, helps you create dashboards and guided analytics applications. It’s available for free for its personal edition. This means your startup gets unlimited access at no cost. There’s also an enterprise edition with licenses based on server, document, user or application with pricing information available upon request.

Its guided analysis paths are customizable and tightly governed so you can easily create business-driven data discoveries. Your team can uncover insights and make meaningful decisions in attractive analytic experiences. Technical knowledge isn’t required as its easy to use for creating and deploying analytics apps. Depending on your startup’s suitable deployment model, you can choose from using it in the cloud or purchasing its license or combining both options.

Detailed QlikView Review

4. Microsoft Power BI – free

microsoft power BI dashboard example

Microsoft Power BI is a common alternative for startups that want to upgrade from their Excel and Google Sheets. It’s a desktop tool that can be downloaded for free. In addition, it also has a Pro edition that’s suitable for teams to share and collaborate starting at $9.99 per user per month.

It has a good array of data connectors and it’s efficient for building dashboards and data preparation. Visual tools enable you to clean and prepare data. You can also analyze and create reports with custom visualizations. Meanwhile, the premium option for startups provides dashboards with 360-degree, real-time view of your business and automatically updated data.

Detailed Microsoft Power BI Review

5. Google Analytics – free

google analytics dashboard example

Google Analytics is an essential resource used by startups to get started in measuring analytics goals, especially for startup marketing. Furthermore, this web analytics service is available for free which means you can easily utilize its features without spending anything.

The tool provides you with the most basic and relevant metrics you should focus on such as your traffic sources, content consumption, and content engagement. It effectively summarizes data into high-level dashboards and it works with a couple of funnel visualization techniques. Even if you’re using other BI tools, Google Analytics is still a requirement which is why many programs connect with this data source.

Detailed Google Analytics Review

6. Statsbot – free

statsbot dashboard example

Statsbot is a BI tool that streamlines data tracking. With a data-centric approach, it gives your team a single language of data communication, proactive analytics with automated triggers, and access for everyone in the team. It also has ad-hoc insights that even non-tech people can ask questions in a natural way. Additionally, it has smart notifications and advanced data sharing.

Startups can use Statsbot starting from its Free plan for 5 users with 50 scheduled report messages per month, an unlimited number of profiles for Salesforce, Stripe, Mixpanel, and Google Analytics, and dashboard and insights. The free plan is generously featured with necessary features for startups to get started with utilizing business intelligence.

Detailed Statsbot Review

7. Visualr – by quote

visualr dashboard example

Visualr is a business intelligence service that specializes in the visualization of data. It’s a data visualization tool that transforms complex data sets into charts and dashboards in real time. As its specialty, decoding and understanding data is streamlined and flow of information is continuous. You can easily implement the system with no programming language skills needed using its drag-and-drop feature.

Additionally, Visualr also offers economical pricing for its server and desktop versions which is available by quote. The license is perpetual and the software is upgraded from time-to-time which is a cost-effective solution to get a good value for your investment.

Detailed Visualr Review

8. Tableau – starts at $35

tableau dashboard example

Another reliable BI platform is Tableau. With low pricing for its plans, it’s used by startups for business intelligence. It’s available for online, server, and desktop which leaves you plenty of choices on how to deploy the system. Starting from $35 per month, you can get your hands on advanced analytics for exploring and analyzing data. It includes dashboards, visualizations, and stories. You can also connect to your files in Excel and Google Sheets which is convenient if you’re previously or currently using them for your reports.

It’s a reliable alternative for startups when they realize Excel-based products aren’t scalable, especially when it comes to crunching data. Using Tableau, you can interact with intuitive data visualizations which eliminate the chaos of digging insights from multi-spreadsheet reports.

Detailed Tableau Review

9. Upsolver – by quote

Upsolver is ideal for startup companies that are looking to transform event streams into insightful analytics. This data lake platform leverages the power of Volcano technology as well as modern algorithms to cut down the processing power and time needed to churn and store streaming data. Coupled with its drag-and-drop design, users can easily work on getting actionable analytics with less time and effort required.

With Upsolver, you can put AWS S3 data management on the background as the software does all the grunt work for you. It automatically performs data partitions and breaks down both big and small data files for optimum performance of your S3.



Try out Upsolver with their free trial

10. Cluvio – free

cluvio dashboard example

Cluvio is an analytics platform suitable for startups and data-driven teams. Combined with powerful analytical tools, the software is powered by SQL and R. It allows you to run queries, filter your results, and choose the right display that works for you. Cluvio also provides different graphic types that can translate your raw data into professional-looking graphs and charts.

It’s a reliable platform that has a free plan for startups, which includes 3 dashboards, data processing in R, 1000 query executions per month, and all analytical capabilities. To unlock more features, you can also sign-up for a 14-day free trial of the business plan, which you can then purchase for $669 per month. Other plans include the pro plan at $279 per month and enterprise plan that starts at $2250 per month.

Detailed Cluvio Review


What are BI solutions that are affordable for startup companies? In this article, we listed 10 leading BI solutions that startups can afford. Each product’s price range from free plans and programs while premium packages are available at cost-efficient prices. In order to know which one suits your workflows, you may check out the free plans or test drive the software with their free trials to use their full capabilities.

We also tackled whether business intelligence is useful for startups and the ways you can utilize the tool and gain advantage from its features. For startups, there may be other tasks that seem critical at the moment yet developing a solid foundation for your data is crucial for the long term. Leveraging data with the help of advanced analytics empower you to be more predictive and less reactive to market changes vigorously.

Also, if affordability is no longer the main factor in your decision for getting a BI software, you can check our top 15 Best Business Intelligence Tools For Small And Big Business here. The guide walks you through the unique features of each platform, including the most robust solutions in the BI market today.

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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