Q&A with Neo Technology co-founder and CEO Emil Eifrem about helping enterprises better manage their big data needs, and raising $10.6 million in Series A funding

By Editor October 3, 2011

NEOTechnology_logoNeo Technology developed its Neo4j software, which provides feature-rich database functionality for big enterprises. The Malmo, Sweden and Menlo Park, Calif.-based company was founded in 2007 and recently closed a $10.6 million Series A round.

SUB: Please explain what Neo Technology is, and the value proposition you offer.

Eifrem: Corporations today are facing an explosion in data growth. Up until now, NOSQL databases handling big data have not provided the key elements that enterprises expect in a database. Neo4j is the first database to give you the scalability of NOSQL, as well as the transactional integrity that enterprises expect.

Neo Technology provides the flexibility and scalability of a NOSQL database, while supporting key elements imperative to the enterprise—transactions, true durability and first-class Java support.

SUB: How does the technology behind Neo Technology work?

Eifrem: Neo4j is a graph database that provides a far richer data model than a traditional, relational database, and is excellent at processing complex and connected data.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?

Eifrem: There’s a lot of movement around alternative databases today and a lot of companies in NOSQL like MongoDB, Couchbase and Cassandra. However, when we’re out in the field and talking to customers, our actual competitors are in-house custom-built solutions.

SUB: What do you offer that differentiates Neo Technology from your competitors?

Eifrem: Neo4j has the properties required to put NOSQL into the enterprise. That means three things—transactions, durability and awesome Java support.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind Neo Technology? Was there an “aha” moment, or was it longer in developing?

Eifrem: At my previous company as chief architect, I was exploring database alternatives for our enterprise content management system. I was looking for a database that made it easy to handle complex and connected data and none existed. Therefore, we built it.

SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?

Eifrem: We founded Neo Technology in 2007. Our big breakthrough came a couple of years later, when a Fortune 500 company brought us on to build a mission-critical system that would address the complex and connected data that was hindering performance in their multi-million dollar Oracle databases. The end result is that Neo4j outperformed Oracle by a factor of more than 1,000 times. This company bet their mission-critical revenue-impacting system on our technology at a time when we were simply six guys working out of a garage in Malmo, Sweden.

SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building Neo Technology?

Eifrem: We’ve seen a surge of customer demand so far this year. By far our most significant obstacle today is to recruit people to meet that demand.

SUB: You recently raised $10.6 million in Series A funding—how do you plan to use the funds?

Eifrem: We are expanding rapidly here at Neo, so we will invest in product development, customer support, and increase distribution to reach demand.

SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise new funding?

Eifrem: The NOSQL market is taking off. In the past month, the top four NOSQL companies have collectively raised over $54 million.

SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?

Eifrem: Right now, we are focused on expanding the company and serving our customers. As of now, we have enough money to meet our expansion goals.

SUB: Where do you hope to see Neo Technology in a year from now?

Eifrem: A year from now I hope to see Neo continue to make our customers successful as fast as we can, and for the company to be the leading NOSQL database for the enterprise.

Neo Technology – www.neotechnology.com