“It’s something every engineer faces at some point, and we had all faced many times in our work. I need access to data in order to do my job, but I can’t use the data our company already has.”
“Most of the time, I think engineers think there’s just nothing they can do about it.”
Adam Kamor, a Georgia Tech PhD and software engineer, had indeed faced this problem many times. While working in product and development at Microsoft, Tableau and Kabbage, he was often constrained by the important privacy and security concerns preventing him from using real customer data.
There are ways to anonymize datasets, but they’re time-consuming and often not fully effective.
“Let’s say I’m de-bugging an issue, the data needs to be similar enough that the same bug actually presents itself. How do you come up with that really high quality fake data?” Kamor explains.
Kamor’s former co-worker, Ian Coe, had also experienced the same issue while at Palantir, the highly-secretive Silicon Valley big data unicorn.
Tonic generates realistic synthetic data that looks and acts just like your actual customer data, with just a few clicks. It allows developers, testing, and sales teams to build products, de-bug, present, and do more without ever running into the compliance risks of using real data.
The platform integrates with databases on Oracle, Google, Amazon, and several more.
The company, formed in 2018, raised $1.8 million in seed funding the same year from VC investors Bloomberg Beta, Xfund, and Heavybit. Those funds have financed product development and growth of the bi-coastal team, which maintains offices in Atlanta and San Francisco.
Tonic began working with customers late last year. Coe says they already have a few dozen, including a Fortune 100 financial firm, a Bay Area unicorn, and a large healthcare provider.
They are largely focused on small to mid-sized businesses and enterprise customers that pay for the service on a subscription basis.
“Our customer base is very diverse because the need make data portable crosses a lot of industry boundaries,” Coe tells Hypepotamus via email. The most obvious industries for the service are healthcare and financial services, due to strict regulatory requirements such as HIPAA and SEC regulations.
“We’ve had five-person healthcare companies approach us in a lot of pain due to a lack of good portable data,” he says.
The focus for the rest of the year, according to the team, is client success and retention.
“Our number one goal right now is to make ourselves indispensable at each of our customers by making their lives better and empowering them to focus on important problems for their business instead of data challenges,” Coe says.
“If we do that, I will consider this year a resounding success and everything else (fundraising, future sales, product development, etc.) should follow very logically.”