Big data startup Hadapt works in the background to make life better

Hadapt chief executive Justin Borgman says that with big data, “the world will get better without you knowing why.”
Hadapt chief executive Justin Borgman says that with big data, “the world will get better without you knowing why.”
Callum Borchers

We’ve all heard a million explanations of how big data is going to impact our lives, but here’s my new favorite, courtesy of Hadapt chief executive Justin Borgman: “The world will get better without you knowing why.”

Take Borgman’s big data startup, for instance. Hadapt’s client roll includes online retailers that, obviously, want to maximize revenue. So they hire Hadapt to perform what’s known as a “funnel analysis”—tracking every click shoppers make as they funnel through a website. From all that data, Hadapt and a retailer can learn about consumer behavior. What keeps buyers on the site and ultimately leads to purchases? What drives them away?

“You won’t know that you’re experiencing our technology because it is in the background,” Borgman said. “But the net benefit is the retailers that you interact with will be able to serve you better. They’ll market to you in a more personalized way.”

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In other words, the shopping experience will get better, and you won’t know why.

Cambridge-based Hadapt is one of five finalists in the “startup to watch” category of this year’s Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council awards (vote for your favorite here). We’re aiming to feature all of the nominees on the Hive before the winner is announced at a gala Sept. 12.

The company actually spun out of Yale, where Borgman met co-founders Daniel Abadi and Kamil Bajda-Pawlikowski, who were working on a way to marry the popular Hadoop data platform, which can index massive amounts of information, to the common database language SQL.

“If we could bridge that technical divide by making Hadoop accessible to mainstream enterprises by giving it this common language, we felt there was a real opportunity there,” Borgman said.

Investors agree. In two rounds, Hadapt has raised $17 million from the Cambridge offices of Bessemer Venture Partners and Atlas Venture, and Norwest Venture Partners of Palo Alto.

Borgman isn’t much of a trash talker, but he did make the case for why Hadapt should finish on top: “Boston has a real opportunity to be one of the epicenters of big data — or the epicenter of big data — and I feel like we’re on the front lines of trying to push that forward.”