Steve Sliwa previously founded Insitu, the maker of unmanned aircraft that sold to Boeing for a reported purchase price of $400 million five years ago. Now, Sliwa is back in the startup game with Seeq, a big data startup that’s announcing $6 million in series A funding today from Madrona Venture Group, Clear Fir Partners and Second Avenue Partners, one of the original investors in Insitu.
We first discovered Seeq back in May, but at the time Sliwa wasn’t saying much about the startup. Now, he’s shedding a bit more light on the company, which employs a dozen people spread across North America.
Seeq, a play on the word “seek,” allows manufacturers to more effectively mine and gain insights from industrial process data. Sliwa came up with the idea after he was asked to consult on a business, discovering that some of the tools being used to collect and analyze the data were old.
“The methods were old, but the data was incredibly valuable,” said Sliwa. “Industry is spending about $2 billion a year collecting and managing this data. And many of them have lots of information, but they are not able to exploit and make the decisions that they want. It just occurred to me that there was a lot of money being spent, and it was time for a refresh, a 2.0 in this area.”
Much of the data being mined is time-sensitive data from sensors and instruments, with much of that data now being stored in disparate databases across the enterprise. For example, Sliwa said an oil & gas refinery may have as many as 150,000 sensors tracking data, everything from temperature controls to flows. When engineers ask questions of that data, Sliwa said it can take weeks or months for them to retrieve answers.