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Toronto startup BuzzData brings social media tools to information sharing

"I started out to write a book about data literacy," says Pete Forde, co-founder and CTO of Toronto startup BuzzData, "to galvanize people to understand that data, as a democratic, free resource, could be used to create both good in the world and business value. That turned into a working principle." And that, says the web developer-turned-entrepreneur, turned into a company.

BuzzData, which had a soft launch roughly six weeks ago, sets out to allow people to share and work with data sets more effectively, improving on the traditional top-line presentation of spreadsheets and databases, while allowing direct and archived interaction between users. Already, with no formal marketing or advertising, the site has quietly attracted 1,800 core users to its free public version. These "data VIPs," as Forde calls them, are building a community the company hopes will demonstrate the utility of a premium collaboration product marketed to companies who work with data.

The project sprung out of a consulting job Forde and his firm Unspace were working on for an outside investor. He says their efforts began in earnest when a core team of three people, including co-founder and CEO Mark Opausky, started collaborating. Over the summer, BuzzData began hiring, staffing up its office near Queen and Spadina to employ 11 people. Their current staff size, Forde says, is expected to support the company as it scales up, with any future employment growth coming in customer support and logistics.

And the book? "You could say it's being written every day," Forde says. "There is still much to be written."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Pete Forde, co-founder and CTO, BuzzData
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