In early 2019, I was watching a documentary about the Dangote refinery being built in Nigeria. The narrator was describing the refining process for jet fuel and mentioned something like“… and this is where the merox process kicks off, ensuring the jet fuel is free from impurities.”
A light bulb went off.
I spent years at Heroku and frequently heard Marc Benioff say, “Data is the new oil.” If data is the new oil, we wanted to power the refinery. The merox process, but for data.
I met my cofounder Ali Hamidi at Heroku where we both worked on the world’s best platform as a service. I remember the exact moment we realized we were kindred spirits on the same quest and of course it starts with Hacker News. After discussing the technical merits of yet another “revolutionary technology”, I remember us joking about how the data ecosystem was the wild west of well-marketed products that were just repackaged incremental improvements. For some reason this time my snarkiness sparked a different twinkle in Ali’s eye. “Well maybe we should do something about it”. Yes Ali. We should.
Ali and I grabbed a conference room at a coworking space. We discussed what was missing from the data ecosystem that could help data professionals be more productive. A couple hours later, we had a reference architecture for the initial platform offering. As we sat back and looked at all the scribbles on that whiteboard, I remember our collective excitement about the future and thinking, “now the real work begins.”
Meroxa was born.
With a little bit of pre-seed cash in the bank, we needed to talk to potential customers and clarify our ideal customer profile. Is what we were building a necessity or a nice to have? Before starting an accelerator program, I spent the next three months interviewing over one hundred people including data engineers, data analysts, data scientists, and software engineers. It was crucial to understand the bottlenecks to their productivity. We asked them questions about the tools they used, what they liked or didn’t like about their current toolset, their workflow, and how they spent their time-solving data issues for stakeholders. What we found was pretty shocking:
- 65% of their time spent was on grunt work (data cleaning, integrating data components, maintaining pipelines) and 30% of their time spent was on ad hoc requests from stakeholders, leaving 5% for feature support.
- The average time to bring a data pipeline to production was between 3–6 months, despite most companies having dedicated data engineers on staff.
- They were armed to the teeth with different tools for different processes, which only complicated their jobs instead of making it easier.
- Most of the companies they worked for were making decisions based on data that was stale or inaccurate.
By delivering on the promise of a self-service platform that would reduce the amount of grunt work, we could unlock new levels of productivity and a whole new class of customer experiences powered by real-time data in minutes not months.
Our belief at Meroxa is that anyone can be a data engineer if given the right toolset. In our customer research, it wasn’t uncommon to see engineers deploying 4+ commercial tools and a healthy heaping of open-source offerings environment to orchestrate data. Each of those tools/services have their own configuration profiles and operational complexities requiring the engineers to have deep and broad knowledge. As you can imagine, maintenance is a nightmare anytime something goes wrong. Regardless of industry vertical or company size, the people we interviewed all had the same issues:
- Maintaining real-time infrastructure using open source Kafka was a chore and the managed services are expensive.
- Commercial ELT and CDP solutions are rigid and don’t handle upstream schema changes well.
- Additional instrumentation was needed in their data infrastructure for observability, scaling, and incident triage
And each of the problems were centered around the same set of use cases:
- Desire to do real-time data warehouse sync for analytics and dashboard visualizations.
- Archival of raw records into a data lake for model training/active learning.
- Processing data in real-time to ensure it reaches the destination in the proper format without introducing latency or complexity with external tools
With that knowledge, we built the Meroxa platform to help engineers control the fragmented data-services ecosystem and evolve the conversation from integration to orchestration.
The platform consists of a change data capture service, schema registry, event streaming service, API proxy, and incident-automation framework that allows customers to transform and orchestrate data in real-time to multiple destinations. This is achieved without modifying application code or introducing performance overhead to your production data sources. Customers who previously spent millions of dollars building real-time data infrastructure over multiple years, now have the ability to build production-ready pipelines in minutes using our CLI and dashboard.
After months of design partnerships, pilots, proof of concepts, demos, and a closed developer preview, we are finally ready to unveil our self-service platform to the world. While we’ve put in a ton of hours, this moment would not be possible without the support of our incredible investors including:
- Nick Caldwell, Village Global, Adam Gross, Jason Warner, Deon Nicholas, Hustle Fund, and Fredrik Bjork who believed in us when we were just a deck and a dream.
- Root Ventures (Lee Edwards) & Amplify Partners (Sarah Catanzaro & Lenny Pruss) who co-led our seed round.
- Drive Capital (Andy Jenks & Van Jones) who led our Series A.
- And a host of other strategic angels, institutional investors, and scouts including Menlo, Index, Kleiner, Addition, Sequoia, Meritech, Calvin French-Owen, Chris Riccomini, Kelvin Beachum, Tokyo Black (Looker co-founders), and more…
Having raised $19.2M between our Seed and Series A, we’ve assembled one of the best teams to deliver a best-in-class platform and developer experience for our customers.
Today Meroxa takes off.
If you’re excited, we invite you to sign up and get access to our platform at meroxa.com. No sales calls or solution architects needed. Just plain old productivity in minutes. We’re excited to see what you build next.