Yesterday I was taking a look at Precog, one of the more popular big data startups on AngelList, yet after an hour I still wasn’t completely clear on how the product works. While I understand the concept, the way the product was presented made it difficult for me to compare it to existing solutions. The worst part of it, is that I’m actually in their target market.

For example, at StartupStats we primarily use Ruby (w/Sinatra on Heroku),, and MongoDB (through MongoHQ) to handle all of data collection and analysis. It appears that Precog handles storage (like MongoHQ) but also makes it easier for me to analyze my data. Yet they have pricing based on two primary factors: storage size and number of concurrent queries. Unfortunately I have no idea how many concurrent queries I would ever need.

My guess is that the only person who would understand such languages is someone who has already built a big data system. For someone who’s doing so the first (or even second) time around, picking a company to go with is extremely important and extremely challenging. That’s why I always revert back to using any service that simply provides a hosted solution for generic open-source packages (e.g. Ruby, MongoDB, etc).

My guess is that a relatively large percentage of people who are developing big data systems are doing so for their first time, and for them this process is extremely frustrating. While the appeal of a sexy new toy (like makes me want to take advantage of such services, I have no idea why I would use them, and I don’t feel like spending hours trying to figure out why I should. Yes, I partially get your company (Precog is like Heroku for big data), and I truly want to use it.

But when I get bogged down in your difficult to understand sales pitch, despite the product being relatively cost-efficient, I don’t make the purchase. So here’s my only suggestion: make it clear as hell what your product does and provide examples of various types of scenarios which would justify paying for your product. It’s your job to sell your product or service. If the customer doesn’t understand how they can apply your service to their system, you are going to lose the sale.