Durham startup Zaloni raises $7.5 million

Zaloni, a startup whose software helps companies manage Big Data, has raised $7.5 million in funding that the company has earmarked for boosting its sales and marketing efforts and expanding into new markets.

“Big Data is really taking off now,” said Kelly Hopkins Schupp, vice president of marketing at the Durham-based company. “We want to be able to keep up with demand.”

Zaloni also plans to use the funding to add features to its two software products, Bedrock and Mica.

Zaloni has more than 40 employees in Durham, plus 150 in India and a handful in the Silicon Valley. Its customer list includes Fortune 500 companies such as American Express, Cisco, Gap, HP, Honda, UnitedHealth Group and Verizon.

The company’s flagship product, Bedrock, was launched in 2013. It aims to make it easy for businesses to store, access and manage massive volumes of raw data. Bedrock is used in conjunction with Hadoop, a popular open-source Big Data storage system.

Mica, released in September, is designed so that non-technical personnel can glean insights from Big Data.

Zaloni was co-founded in 2007 by co-founders Ben Sharma, a NetApp veteran who is CEO, and Bijoy Bora, the company’s chief operating officer.

“The stuff that is happening in Big Data is still very early market,” Schupp said. “These folks have been there from the beginning of Hadoop.”

Zaloni started as a Big Data consulting firm but morphed into a software company after Sharma and Bora realized that their business customers had similar needs, Schupp said.

Although the company has enjoyed positive cash flow in recent years, it decided to raise its first round of outside capital to take advantage of the growing market for Big Data, Schupp said.

The funding was led by Sierra Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that previously invested in data companies Teradata and Greenplum. Baird Capital, the investment arm of Robert W. Baird & Co., also participated in the funding.

“One of the most significant challenges companies face is not a lack of data, but rather the ability to transform that data into meaningful business intelligence that is actionable,” Mark Fernandes, managing director of Sierra, said in a statement. “Zaloni clearly resolves this challenge.”

Up to now Zaloni’s sales have been mostly limited to North America, but the company plans to expand into the Asia Pacific this year. It also wants to expand to Europe, the Middle East and Africa but that may or may not happen in 2016, Schupp said.

The company also is in hiring mode, especially locally, but Schupp couldn’t say how many new employees will be added this year.

David Ranii: 919-829-4877, @dranii