How Helical Insight is helping companies derive meaningful data insights with its open source Business Intelligence product


Back in the day, most companies considered Business Intelligence (BI) as a central data warehouse that only select IT experts could access; however, the advent of BI tools have made it possible for other departments to use it without relying on the support of an IT team. According to Gartner, 40 percent of data science tasks will be automated by 2020. Big benefits await organisations who have access to BI products. These include growing revenues, better decision making, and increased employee productivity. One organisation helping power other businesses is Hyderabad-based startup Helical Insight, the world’s first open source Business Intelligence framework. Helical IT is the parent company and Helical Insight is the product.

Building data analytics platforms

Any company that is generating and needs to analyse data can make use of Helical’s products for building their data analytics platform. Using their product, companies can derive meaningful insights from their data. With a self-service drag-drop interface, they can connect to multiple databases, create reports, dashboards and other data visualisations that can aid in better decision making.

Coming together to build the product

Founded by Nikhilesh Tiwari and Nitin Sahu in 2016, Helical Insight currently has more than 20 clients in various domains like Fintech, Clinical Trials, Education, Logistics, CRM, FMCG, Government, Manufacturing, and Staffing.

Nikhilesh, who has nine years of experience in account management, sales and operations with Vodafone and Aircel, takes care of Marketing, Sales and Finance, while Nitin heads Product Development, Operations and Services. He has worked with Tata Communications, Unilever, Federal Government USA and has significant experience in BI, Big Data and Data Analytics. Both founders hold business degrees from Symbiosis International University, and studied engineering at Pune University.

Before starting Helical, they were involved in an education startup and a healthcare startup, both of which sadly failed. “We always believed that if plan A fails, there are still 25 characters left and we didn’t give up. We had always dreamt of being our own boss, making it big and carving out an identity for ourselves. There was no zest working in the corporate world. We felt like one of the spokes of a wheel, doing mundane work daily, with no personal growth or learning,” says Nikhilesh.

Keeping in mind that every company and individual has their share of ups and downs in life, they took their failures in their stride, learnt from them and kept moving ahead. Having worked primarily in the services side of open source BI with multiple clients, they had witnessed the kind of expectations business users had and the kind of features that current products were providing. The existing set of open source, as well as proprietary BI products, weren’t developer friendly and extensible. They had a very closed garden approach, which wouldn't allow you to add more capabilities or functionalities or extend the features.

That’s when the idea struck and gave birth to Helical Insight. The entire thought process was to develop a product, which would allow clients to add more capabilities, features and functionalities that would keep pace with the ever-changing technology landscape, using their own developers. One of the biggest challenges they have been facing is in terms of hiring and retaining good skillsets of people.

Standing out from the BI crowd

Even though there are multiple BI products available in the market, what makes Helical Insight unique is that it’s developer-friendly and has an extensible framework. “We have extensive API support for each and every functionality, allowing companies to automate a lot of tasks, as well as add new functionalities.” There are a lot of placeholders, which allows you to inject codes like HTML, CSS, Javascript, SQL Queries, etc. They are also the first product to have an integrated workflow engine, allowing customers to define their own flow of events and actions, making sure that their business processes can be defined clearly. Apart from these, clients can add their own charts, chart customisations, database functions, new DB drivers, and new exporting types using their own developers. Being the most cost-competitive BI product in the market, they offer a lot of configurable XML files, and as an open source, they allow clients to make changes at source code level, if required.

Apart from these, their product is multi-device compatible, 100 percent browser based, offers auto emailing, user and role management, Jasper report support and more.

Revenue model

Helical has two product models – one is the Helical Insight Community Edition, which is completely free, but has a limited set of features. The second one is Enterprise version, which is paid and comes with all the features. Based on client requirements, they have various kinds of payment models, which includes monthly, perpetual, annual, and so on.

They also provide professional services in terms of development and consulting as well as features expansion, in case the client requires it.

Thinking global

The founders had started working on Helical Insight in 2014, and launched the first public beta version in 2016, followed by version 2.0 and 2.1. They are on track to launch version 3.0 very shortly. Helical aims to become the leading and most popular open source BI product in the coming years. “We have a very strong product roadmap, which has been defined and we are aggressively working towards the latest cutting-edge features,” says Nitin. They are also looking to have overseas strategic partners on board who can help them market their products in the international market.


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