Data startup Narrative raises $3M more

By Anthony Ha. This article originally appeared in TechCrunch on February 25, 2019.

Narrative, a startup that makes it easier to buy and sell data, is announcing that it’s raised $3 million in additional seed funding.

The round was led by Glasswing Ventures ,  XSeed, Tuhaye and Revel also participated.

When I first wrote about the company two years ago, it had already raised $2.25 million, and its business revolved around a marketplace for data. Founder and CEO Nick Jordan told me that’s still what Narrative offers — but customers have also started using its software to manage data transactions beyond the marketplace.

“Buying or selling data sounds really simple — anybody can write in a board deck … ‘We’re going to acquire data, we’re going to distribute data,’” Jordan said. “But it’s much more complex. As a buyer you want specific records, you’re buying for multiple parties. Every seller sells data in a different format. Broadly speaking, there’s a ton of fragmentation.”

And yet, these transactions do happen, with or without Narrative . But Jordan said companies have “historically built their own systems out of duct tape and prayers,” and they often lack features that “seem incredibly trivial, like reporting how much data was sold or bought.”

With Narrative, on the other hand, businesses don’t need to spend the time and resources to create this infrastructure, and they get a tool that allows them to monitor, and hopefully grow, their entire data business.

As this happens, the broader landscape around buying and selling user data is changing, thanks to GDPRthe California privacy bill and the potential for more regulation.

Jordan acknowledged that when GDPR went into effect, Narrative saw “a fairly precipitous drop in data made available in the EU.” At the same time, he said, “The industry as a whole grew up a bit,” and that’s made the technology more appealing to some customers, because it provides “full transparency between the buyer and seller.”

“It [gives] you the ability to do your own due diligence and make sure the data you’re getting is compliant, based on your own reading of GDPR law,” Jordan said.

In fact, he claimed that Narrative really started to see a positive response from customers in the second and third quarter of last year — coincidentally or not, right as GDPR was going into effect.

“This money is really to show that we’ve found product market fit,” Jordan added. That means investing in sales and marketing — and if that pays off, Narrative can probably go out and raise a bigger round.