Interviews

Exclusive conversations about infographics and data-vizualization

Talking with ... Uldis Leiterts

A quick talk with the Co-Founder of Infogr.am, the fastest growing infographic community on the Internet

October 30, 2012  |  CATEGORIES: Interviews

Uldis Leiterts, co-founder of Infogr.am

(photo: Uldis Leiterts, co-founder of Infogr.am)

Not so long ago, we mentioned here on Visual Loop Infogr.am, first about the 100.000 infographics milestone and more recently about the new updates the service has been making on a regular basis.

As it grows, this Latvian company draws more and more attention. On one hand, you have the whole ‘infographic craze’ coming from PR and marketing agencies, making use of the ‘link-bait’ power that this tool offers. On the other, the visual journalists and data visualization experts, who often criticize the invasion of poorly done works and the exposure they get from big sites.

When you access Infogr.am, you might get the idea that is a tool for the first group – an easy way to dump images, icons and other non-relevant distractions. Almost like a tool developed by an obscure SEO company of some kind. But that’s a wrong assumption.

Infogr.am was, in fact, created by two entrepreneurs with a background in newsrooms. Its main purpose is to become a reference resource for journalists who need an easy and quick way to create charts and graphics to embed in sites, and the experience inside AS Delfi - the major online news media in the Baltic States – helped Uldis Leiterts and Raimonds Kazhe to come up with a successful product.

Since February, 2012, when it was officially launched as “web based SaaS platform for infographic, interactive charts and reports creation”, Infogr.am has been covered by all the major tech and Internet blogs, received investments from HackFwd Capital and is trying to cope with all the requests and feedback from its enthusiastic users, who don’t stop playing, experimenting and publishing infographics. The concept is far from being new, many might say. But the numbers speak for itself: almost 200.000 infographics created so far, originated from more than 100 countries.

With so much going on, we managed to talk quickly with Uldis Leiterts,  one of the founders of the Latvian startup:

Visual Loop (VL) – In a nutshell, what is Infogr.am?

Uldis Leiterts  (UL) – Infogr.am is a web-based infographic creator.

VL – And how did you guys came up with the idea of creating it?

UL – I worked with my co-founder Raimonds in a newsroom of an international news media. Among other things, we were responsible for data visualization. We decided to build a tool so easy that, rather than going to Arts/IT department with a request, journalists could make infographics themselves. Having a background in journalism, design and development, we had all the skills needed.

VL – So, Infogr.am was designed primarily for journalists?

UL – A significant part of our users is from online media and blogs. Nevertheless, we see data becoming an important part of nearly every industry. Infogr.am is used in education, PR, sales. I’m really impressed to see what our users can do with the tool. We want to make working with data enjoyable for everyone.

We decided to build a tool so easy that rather than going to the Arts/IT department with a request journalists could make infographics themselves.

VL – Were there any expectations or goals established? Because  almost 200.000 infographics in less than a year it’s quite an achievement!

UL – We’re thrilled with the interest from our users! Infogr.am seems to nail a really important problem. A massive amount of data is coming into every industry. It forces people and industries who don’t originally have skills, time and money for dealing with data. And here’s where infogr.am solution comes in to help.

It took us 6 months to reach 100 000 infographics created by our community. Just two months later we’re now close to 200 000 infographics. In comparison, another popular infographics site, Visual.ly, has 23 000 infographics in their gallery. With the amount of data visualized each day, infogr.am is the fastest growing data visualization community in the world.

VL – What about the typical user of Infogr.am? Can you tell us anything about who uses it, where they come from?

UL – Data journalists and bloggers account for the majority of our users. We’re also seeing an increasing adoption in PR, sales and education segments. Our users are in more than 100 countries, infogr.am has seen a global adoption from day one.

VL  – More and more tools are being created to help people deal with data, presentations and infographics, both free and paid. And although some people think of it as a ‘fad’, something that will eventually be forgotten, the reality is that people are using more infographics in their daily routines. How do you see this market ten years from now?

‘Infographics’ are a trend. It may eventually fade away, though I don’t see it happening over the next 5 years. But a thing that will stay here forever is the need for data visualization. Data is the rational thing behind most of the decisions we make, the news we read. There’s just so many devices able to collect data so the amount of data will just increase.

‘Infographics’ are a trend. It may eventually fade away, though I don’t see it happening over the next 5 years. But a thing that will stay here forever is the need for data visualization.

VL – Back to Infogr.am. You guys have been doing a lot of updates, for the last couple of months. Can you walk us through what you’ve changed and improved?

UL – The new version we launched has greatly improved the user experience. Charts have a proper mathematics, we actually rewrote around 85% of the source code for the whole software. We also do listen to our users. Many things we update are based on real needs by real users. Some suggest that listening to users doesn’t work, I strongly disagree with that. Our community is the greatest value we have.

Infogr.am is fast in updating things, so just ping us on Twitter (@infogram) or shoot us an email. It’s usually me to answer.

Many things we update are based on real needs by real users. Some suggest that listening to users doesn’t work, I strongly disagree with that. Our community is the greatest value we have.

VL – And what can we expect from Infogr.am next? Care to share any future projects?

Our mission is make data visualization super-simple and accessible for everyone. We’re working on many new amazing things which you’ll love to use.

VL – Thank, Uldis! All the best!

UL – Thanks!

Again, we’d like to thank Uldis for taking the time to give this brief interview. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, and follow the updates about Infogr.am on Twitter.

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