TrackVia: Database 2.0?

The folks at a new Golden startup called Trackvia fundamentally believe that while most people have lots of information to track and reasonably sophisticated needs to share and track their data, there are no good tools for the average Joe to use. COO Chris Basham explains:

“In the broadest category of solutions that people use to create lists and to track information, including everything from post-it notes to Oracle databases, Excel is the de facto champion. Excel makes it very easy for the average user to create a list of information, and even to create a table using rows and columns. But Excel has become the champion by default, rather than by design. This gap between the simplicity of Excel and the power of a database is where Trackvia steps in to save the day. Trackvia is designed with the philosophy of “less is more,” meaning that we strive to provide only the features that users want and need, keeping our interface clean and usable.”

The point that Chris is making is that most of us use Excel as a database to track lists, but it falls short when we need to share those lists or collaborate with others.

What Trackvia is providing is fundamentally a web 2.0 style database application. Users define the data they want to track and don’t need to think like a database administrator. They can then use it in very simple ways. For example, there is a very simple search feature that provides a result set. Doing this in Excel simply moves the cursor to each matching record in succession. Excel also does not handle complex multipart searches at all. While these are things that any database can easily do, Trackvia seems to be aiming to provide only the features most people use while removing the complexity of database design and administration.

Trackvia does not represent the first to attempt to provide a simplified database tool delivered as a service. The most notable competitors are DabbleDB (funded by Ventures West), Intuit’s QuickBase, and Zoho. Again from Chris:

“Our competition includes some very cool web-based applications, but it’s not clear to us yet that they’ve thought beyond the “build it and they will come” phase; or, that they’ve thought past the “one size fits all” mentality. We’ll be building a great product, and look forward to keeping our solution simpler, faster and better adapted to individual market segments than our competition.”

So far, so good. Trackvia has landed a major account with Denver’s RTD. The RTD has reported that “People count on us to keep them moving. We count on Trackvia to keep important information organized and projects on track.”

The founder of Trackvia is Matt McAdams, PhD (CalTech). Matt has been working in the field of databases for some time. Matt was the CEO of Senware whose AutoDBA was acquired by ASG in 2004. Matt also has some experience consulting for VC firms, so I’m sure he’s seen an interesting thing or two.

I have known Chris Basham (COO) personally for about six months and I briefly advised his previous company, OTO Software. While OTO is still operating, Chris told me that he felt that the chances of doing something more substantial with Trackvia was worth his full attention.

Next time you need to track, share, and manage a simple set of data, give Trackvia a try. They offer a free 30-day trial, and I found it to be easy to use as promised.

file under: Blog, Startups