VC firm invests in data engineering startup


Astronomer is the maker of an enterprise data engineering platform. Photo via

A local venture capital firm has made its first investment.

Grand Rapids-based Grand Ventures was among the investors in a $3.5-million round of investments in Cincinnati-based Astronomer, the maker of a data engineering platform.

Astronomer automates data analytics for startups and Fortune 500 companies, helping limit wasted time, while gaining insight and realizing untapped revenue.

“Data engineering, which includes accessing and preparing data for analysis, takes up the vast majority of a business analyst’s time,” said Ry Walker, co-founder and CEO, Astronomer.

“We constantly hear the same complaint — not only is this incredibly inefficient, but the opportunity cost is tremendous. If organizations implement a focused, iterative data engineering effort, they’d free up their people to extract insights that impact the bottom line.”

Grand Ventures Principal Maitlan Cramer compared Astonomer to plumbing in a house.

“The pipes behind the walls are where the work is done. However, the homeowner doesn't worry about what's going on behind the wall. They just want to turn on the faucet or shower and have running water,” Cramer said.

“Like the pipes in a house, Astronomer's platform serves as the infrastructure required to move data, so customers have instant access at any time. Astronomer's clients don't worry about wrangling the data, they just distribute access across the organization to their aggregated data, so they can focus on leveraging their data to drive the business.”

The lead investors in the investment were San Francisco-based Wireframe Ventures and Cincinnati-based CincyTech. Other investors included U.K.-based Frontline Ventures, Drummond Road, Core Network, M25 Group. Silicon Valley Bank also provided debt financing.

The funding is expected to help grow Astronomer’s product and engineering teams and expand its sales team.

Astronomer’s clients include Proctor & Gamble, Everything But The House and Roadtrippers, among others.

The startup was founded in 2015 and its team of 50 includes members from Facebook, Oracle, Ernst & Young and the FBI.

Grand Ventures was started to help realize the relatively untapped potential of technology startups in the Midwest, said Tim Streit, co-founder and managing partner, Grand Ventures. 

Grand Ventures looked at nearly 400 potential deals before it decided to invest in Astronomer as its first investment. Discussions started in late 2016.

“Astronomer is led by an incredible team, and its value proposition has been validated by some of the most successful companies in the world,” Streit said. “Astronomer is providing a critical technology in a massive and rapidly growing market. It represents the growing list of exciting tech companies in Cincinnati, and we are excited to make our first investment in the city.”

A number of large local companies would be prime candidates to use Astronomer, Cramer said.

“It’s one of the reasons why we are so excited about Astronomer,” he said.

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