Data integration is the fuel of the modern world of AI. The data integration solutions are essential for gaining a holistic perspective on business operations, supply chains, modeling R&D budgets, and many other commercial purposes. Data integration solutions are quickly becoming the need of the hour for all businesses as AI promises major research outbreaks.
For example, in the pharmaceutical sector, AI and machine learning have discovered the main causes of chronic illnesses like cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s, among others, at a fraction of the cost of human input. Furthermore, the technology has advanced the pace of discoveries in clinical research and a host of other industries.
The data integration solutions also promise tremendous cost-savings, easy-to-use operation handling software, and insights in real-time. One of the companies that are changing the outlook of global data integration solutions is Etlworks.
In the following interview, Maksym Sherbinin, CEO of Etlworks, shares with us in detail about the company’s journey in the data integration space and his outlook on the commercial arena.
Below are the interview highlights
Please brief our audience about Etlworks, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading player in the data integration solutions niche.
Etlworks was founded in 2016 by Maksym Sherbinin and Artem Avdonin with a focus on user-friendly cloud data integration. We developed an MVP in 6 months, went to the market shortly after that, and had three paying customers by the year-end. I used my contacts from the time when I worked as a freelance consulter to score first customers.
Currently, we offer cloud and on-premises data integration software as a service (SaaS) for enterprises of all sizes and verticals. Our typical customer is looking to accelerate its transition to the cloud and needs a fast, reliable, and easy-to-use solution that works equally well with the data in the cloud and on-premises.
We help with rapid data movements, data collection, and API integration. Etlworks solves fundamental data integration problems: from real-time data streaming and CDC (change data capture) to batch processing billions of rows of data and to work with well-known and custom APIs. We do have the best-in-class customer support, which is one of our competitive advantages in this crowded market.
What other products does your company offer, and how are these making an impact on the industry and your clients?
We focus on data integration. Our main product is Etlworks Integrator which is a cloud-native data integration platform that works equally well in the cloud and on-premises. We also offer Data Integration Agent, which is our data integration engine repackaged as a headless app installed as a service or Docker container. It typically runs behind the company’s firewall and does not require any administration or maintenance.
Etlworks Integrator and Integration Agent can work together, communicating via the REST API. This is our answer to hybrid data integration when companies need to run synchronized data integration workloads on-premises and in the cloud.
Maksym, please brief us about yourself, your journey in the industry, and how you have contributed to the company’s success.
I’m a co-founder and CEO of Etlworks. I was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and moved to the US in 2000. I worked as a developer, freelance consultant, technical lead, chief architect, and VP of engineering for companies such as i2, McKesson, and SCA before co-founding Etlworks in 2016 with my partner Artem.
During my tenure as a freelance consultant, I have created a data integration engine that is currently used by Bank of New Zeeland, Marketo Australia, Cerebral Palsy Association, Asus USA, and many other companies around the globe. Later this engine became a core of the Etlworks Integrator.
As the CEO of Etlworks, I’m responsible for the company’s vision, strategy, and ultimately success. I continue to contribute to the development of our data integration engine. I live in Pittsburgh, PA, with my wife Olena, younger son Andrew, and a six-year-old Golden Retriever Simba. Our older son Artem is a graduate of the US Naval Academy. He currently serves as an officer in the US Navy.
Being an experienced leader, share with us your opinion on the impact the adoption of modern technologies such as AI and machine learning had on the niche of data integration solutions, and what more could be expected in the future?
Modern data integration is on the cutting edge of software engineering craft. To successfully compete, your solution must be super-fast, reliable, user-friendly, memory and CPU efficient, take advantage of modern parallel architectures, support real-time data integration techniques such as CDC, and much more.
The true adoption of machine learning and AI in our field has been rather slow, which I’m okay with. You got to have the basics taken care of first. The one area where we see a potential for AI adoption is intelligent data mapping.
We started a project with a group of CMU students that will [eventually] allow us to offer automatic data mapping (driven by machine learning) for various vertical domains such as healthcare, finances, manufacturing, marketing, etc. The plan is to integrate it with our platform but also offer it as a paid service to other vendors.
Considering the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face, and how did you drive your company to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
Just like everyone else, we were initially stunned by the prospects of a collapsing economy, friends and family getting sick and overall uncertainty. We have been working from home even before the pandemic, and our entire infrastructure is in the cloud, so our operations were not affected. However, we do have customers in 25 countries, so we were surely affected by what is going on with the global economy.
A small number of our customers reached out to us and asked for deep discounts, which we provided, no questions asked. What happened next was a big surprise. Our revenue has tripled in the following year and a half, and the number of customers grew by 150%. I attribute this to the accelerated migration of the infrastructure, workloads, and data to the cloud.
I think we were (are) in the right place at the right time. The fact that our price is competitive and our product and support are awesome help a lot.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the data integration solutions market?
Become (or hire) an actual industry expert, and do not be afraid of competitors. Don’t pitch your business as “the same as Informatica but in the cloud and with AI.” Your goal is to make your customers happy. Get to the market as soon as possible but don’t release a product that doesn’t work as advertised. Focus on a few key features/use cases and do them right the first time.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in the future?
We will continue to grow by at least 70% year over year in the next couple of years. The goal is to become so good (and reasonably big) that no one can ignore us. We will do this by investing in the right people and technologies and improving our already superb customer support. We are open to a strategic partnership but raising the capital is not our highest priority. We are profitable and feel comfortable in terms of the cash flow.
“I needed a solution that facilitated streaming database changes in near real-time to a variety of destinations. It also had to be flexible enough to handle a multitude of curveballs in a straightforward way. After evaluating virtually each of ETLWorks’ competitors, it became increasingly clear that their solution had everything that I needed while maintaining a reasonable price point.”
“Beyond that, their technical support, both during the sales process and the following, was unparalleled. They have consistently responded to any inquiry or question with nearly no lag time and have been immensely helpful. In the rare event that I run into a software defect (even if it’s not in their software) or require a new feature to accommodate my workflow, it has consistently been delivered in a matter of days (or less).”
“In my experience as a CTO, I’ve worked with a large number of vendors, and ETLWorks is without a doubt in the top tier. Beyond the phenomenal support, the application itself has worked great, and I couldn’t recommend it any more highly.” – Chris Furlong. CTO, Anduin tech.”
“I honestly feel like I’m working with another developer on my team when I’m speaking to them. Communication is direct and instant; they have been proactive in investigating our setup and adjusting their code to accommodate our scenarios. They added a bunch of features for us and gave us step-by-step directions on how to use undocumented features when I needed to do very advanced stuff.”
“What I love best is when I ask them a question or identify an issue; they are always on my level and understand what I’m talking about. There’s no back and forth or explaining.” – Bryan Meyerovich. Sr. Software Engineer, Sermo.