How to bootstrap your analytics in 1 hour

Tim Abraham
Jan 10, 2017 · 6 min read
  • A nightly stats email or slack message going out to your team
  • A few hosted dashboards to put up on monitors in the office
  • A place where anyone in your company can explore data (regardless of technical acumen)

Your metrics are already in your database

Since pie is way more delicious than widgets, let’s imagine you’ve just started a pie delivery company. You decide that — at a minimum — the success of your business will depend on:

  1. Your ability to sell pies to those consumers
Mmmm, pies
  1. Pie sales
  2. Repeat usage
They’re “in” the database?

Metabase: An analytics tool that works with your database

There are a lot of ways to fetch information from a database, but there is only one easiest way, and this post is about easy ways.

Installation/Deployment

If you are just in evaluation mode, I would recommend downloading Metabase’s mac app. Follow their setup guide, and you’re ready to create some metrics. However, deploying Metabase either on Heroku or AWS Elastic Beanstalk (best) is highly recommended, as you’ll get a persistent application that’s hosted in the cloud and your whole team can use it.

Creating your metrics

Believe it or not, the rest is pretty easy. The first thing you’ll want to do is build your metrics. In Metabase parlance, these are “Questions.” If you’re the pie business, and you have a reasonably organized schema, you should be able to get your key metrics with just a few clicks. No SQL is required, but of course if you like SQL that option is available.

Finishing touches

Next you’ll want to setup a daily stats email. I don’t know what it is about them, but everyone loves daily stats emails. Metabase calls these “Pulses,” and even lets you use Slack if you’re too cool for email. Add the Questions you want to send out, pick a time and cadence (it doesn’t have to be daily but that tends to be the most helpful) and a list of recipients or Slack channel and you’re done.

Recap

You just set up a pretty solid analytics infrastructure for your startup in about an hour. Now your whole team can explore your application database, receive nightly emails, and view a company-wide dashboard. Even better, this setup should last you for quite some time — at least 6 months unless you start experiencing crazy growth (in which case, no complaining).

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Tim Abraham

Written by

Data Scientist, pickle maker and Oakland native currently advising startups on how to do analytics right at @expa.

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