Published on

November 24, 2023

Business Intelligence

The Best BI Tools for Startups (+ AI-Powered Alternatives)

Explore the best BI tools for startups, from AI-Powered solutions like Akkio to more traditional tools like Power BI.
Natasha Badger
Digital Marketing Manager
Business Intelligence

Picture this: you’re at the helm of a promising startup, but you’re drowning in data and struggling to make sense of it all.

What if there was a way to harness this raw data to drive your business forward? Enter business intelligence (BI) tools.

These powerful solutions empower startups like yours to make data-driven decisions, improve efficiency, and gain a competitive edge in the market.

Ready to dive into the world of BI tools for startups? Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • BI tools are essential for startups to make informed decisions and optimize strategies because they provide a comprehensive view of the business's performance, identify trends and patterns, and offer actionable insights based on data analysis.
  • Consider factors such as user-friendliness, scalability, integration capabilities, cost, and data security when choosing a BI tool.
  • Evaluate potential solutions by considering features & ease of use. Take advantage of free trials & demos. Ensure the tool aligns with your goals & objectives.
  • Microsoft Power BI continues to be a standout leader in the BI industry, however, emerging solutions like Akkio, which prioritize AI-first dashboards, are simplifying the process of gleaning valuable insights from your data like never before.

Why Startups Need BI Tools

Table of people discussing at a meeting

In today’s data-driven world, startups need to be agile and responsive to market trends. One way to achieve this is by leveraging BI reporting tools that with interactive data analytics help analyze and visualize data, enabling better decision-making and growth.

What makes BI tools indispensable for startups?

Firstly, startups often face fierce competition in their respective industries. To stand out and stay ahead, they need to make informed decisions based on data. Business intelligence and BI tools allow startups to analyze their business data and gain valuable insights into their operations, customers, and market trends. By utilizing business intelligence tools, this, in turn, helps them optimize their strategies and make better-informed decisions.

Secondly, efficiency is crucial for startups operating with limited resources. BI tools enable startups to:

  • Automate time-consuming tasks like data analysis. Analysts spend a significant amount of time on data management, preparation, and governance activities, which can take up to 80% of their time;
  • Free up valuable time for other important aspects of running a business;
  • Data teams spend upwards of 20% of their day dealing with data issues, fix that using tools designed to help you succeed;
  • Enhance startups’ efficiency and overall performance

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a BI Tool for Your Startup

Selecting the ideal BI tool for your startup involves considering several factors. Here are some crucial elements to bear in mind:

For startups with limited resources and personnel, a user-friendly BI tool is indispensable. Such a tool should be:

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Catering to both technical and non-technical users who need to access data and generate insights
  • Having intuitive user interfaces
  • Having drag-and-drop capabilities
  • Having simple setup processes.

Scalability is another essential aspect to keep in mind. As your startup grows, your BI tool should be able to grow with it. Ensure that the tool you choose can handle increasing data volumes, users, and complexity over time.

Integration capabilities are crucial in today’s interconnected world. Your next business intelligence platform or software, as a BI tool, should be able to seamlessly integrate with your existing data sources, such as data warehouses, CRM systems, and other business applications.

This will enable you to centralize and analyze data from multiple sources, providing a more complete picture of your business and key performance indicators, and offering effective business intelligence solutions.

Cost is always a significant consideration for startups. While many BI tools offer a free trial, you’ll need to consider the long-term costs associated with licensing, support, and updates. Be sure to weigh the benefits and features of each tool against its price to find the best fit for your budget.

Lastly, don’t forget about data security and user management. Startups need to ensure their sensitive business data is protected at all times, so look for BI tools with robust data security features and user management capabilities. This includes encryption, role-based access control, and audit trails.

Top BI Tools for Startups

Having discussed the key factors in choosing a BI tool, here are some of the best business intelligence tools for business users.


Akkio lets you generate graphs by just... chatting with your data!

Akkio distinguishes itself as a unique contender in the BI tools arena, especially for its AI-driven approach to data analysis. This pioneering tool is designed to democratize data science, making it not only accessible but also user-friendly for non-technical users.

Akkio serves as a self-service BI tool, making it a top choice for startups for the following reasons:

  • AI-First Approach: Akkio's primary selling point is its AI-first approach. It uses advanced machine learning algorithms to analyze and predict data trends, providing startups with valuable insights. This feature can help startups anticipate market trends, optimize their strategies, and make informed decisions.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Akkio's user interface is intuitive and easy to navigate. Users can easily upload their data, select the target variable, and let Akkio's AI do the rest. This simplicity reduces the learning curve and allows users to start reaping the benefits of BI quickly.
  • Predictive Analytics: With Akkio, startups can easily predict future trends based on their current data. This can be a powerful tool for strategic planning and decision-making.
  • Seamless Integration: Akkio can seamlessly integrate with various data sources, offering a more comprehensive view of business performance. It also provides a free trial, allowing startups to evaluate its features before committing to a paid plan.
  • Shareable AI Dashboards: One of Akkio's standout features is its ability to create shareable AI reports. These models can be shared with team members or embedded into applications, websites, and more, making it easy to incorporate AI-driven insights into any aspect of a startup's operations.

Akkio is a forward-thinking business intelligence tool, that brings the power of AI to startups, helping them harness their data in new and powerful ways. Its user-friendly design, AI-first approach, and shareable AI dashboards make it a standout choice for startups looking to take their data analysis to the next level.


A screenshot of Tableau Desktop
Source: Tableau Desktop | Connect, analyze, and visualize any data

Tableau is known for its flexibility, simplifying the process of creating powerful data visualizations. It allows users to access data from multiple sources or even add their own data. Here are some unique selling points:

  • Integrations: Tableau can integrate with virtually any solution, from databases to cloud services, providing a unified view of all business data.
  • Upcoming Tableau Pulse: The upcoming release of Tableau Pulse, a GPT-4 based data analysis assistant, promises to revolutionize the way users interact with their data.
  • Educational Resources: As an industry standard, there are many resources available online to learn how to use Tableau. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced user, you can find tutorials, webinars, and community forums to help you get the most out of this tool.

However, it's important to note that Tableau's comprehensive feature set and flexibility come with a certain degree of complexity. As such, it may take some time to fully understand and utilize all of its capabilities. Additionally, while Tableau offers a free trial, its full-featured versions can be quite expensive, making it a significant investment for startups.

Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI in action
Source: Microsoft

Microsoft Power BI is another top choice for business users looking for business intelligence reporting tools. It offers:

  • A wide range of data connectors: This feature allows users to connect to various data sources, making it easier to gather and analyze data from different platforms. Whether it's a SQL server, Excel spreadsheet, or even a cloud-based service like Azure or Salesforce, Power BI can connect to it.
  • Efficient dashboard building and data preparation for actionable insights: Power BI provides an intuitive interface for creating dashboards and reports. It allows users to drag and drop data fields onto a canvas, making it easy to create visualizations that can be shared with others. Moreover, Power BI's data preparation tools make it easy to clean and transform data, ensuring that your insights are based on accurate and reliable information.
  • Visual tools for data cleaning and preparation: Power BI's visual tools for data cleaning and preparation are user-friendly and powerful. With Power Query, users can connect to, transform, and mashup data from a wide range of sources. Power Query's interface is intuitive, making it easy for users to perform complex data transformations with just a few clicks.
  • Custom visualization capabilities: Power BI allows users to create custom visualizations that suit their specific needs. With a library of visuals to choose from, users can create anything from simple bar charts to complex scatter plots. Users can also import custom visuals created by others, extending the tool's visualization capabilities even further.

A de-facto industry standard, Microsoft Power BI is a valuable old-school tool with limited AI capabilities and a steep learning curve.

Google Looker Studio

Google Looker Studio - An Example report for Google Ads Data
Google Looker Studio - An Example report for Google Ads Data

Google Looker Studio (ex Google Data Studio) is a robust BI tool that provides startups with comprehensive data modeling and exploration capabilities. It offers:

  • The ability to create and share interactive dashboards and reports, facilitating better decision-making across the organization
  • Seamless integration with other Google services, providing a unified, end-to-end data analytics solution
  • All the graphs and chart types you might need
  • Automatic report templates provided by a plethora of third-party vendors, such as Supermetrics
  • Connectors that, although expensive, come in all shapes and sizes. You can connect multiple data sources if you know what you need

While Google Looker Studio requires a certain level of technical expertise, it offers extensive documentation and community support, making it a viable option for startups with a dedicated data team.


Domo is a multifaceted BI tool that offers a myriad of features, making it a valuable, albeit complex, tool for startups. Here's why Domo stands out:

  • Extensive App Ecosystem: Domo's extensive app ecosystem allows startups to integrate and analyze data from various sources, offering a comprehensive view of business performance
  • Mobile-first Approach: Domo's mobile-first approach ensures that startups can access their data and insights anytime, anywhere, facilitating real-time decision making
  • Dynamic Visualization: Domo offers robust data visualization capabilities that empower startups to create interactive dashboards and reports. This helps in presenting complex data in a user-friendly manner, enabling stakeholders to derive actionable insights effortlessly
  • Collaborative Features: Domo promotes collaboration among team members with its built-in communication tools. Users can comment on data, share insights, and even assign tasks within the platform, ensuring that everyone stays on the same page

While Domo offers a powerful and flexible BI solution, startups must be prepared to navigate its complexity to fully harness its capabilities.

AI-Driven BI Tools

There are several AI-driven BI tools which are particularly beneficial for technical users and data analysts, offering advanced features and predictive capabilities for data insights.

  • Akkio, for instance, leverages machine learning for predictive analytics, making it a powerful tool for data scientists and analysts.
  • Levity is another AI-enabled tool that stands out. It allows users to automate repetitive data analysis tasks and provides advanced image and text recognition capabilities.
  • Pecan specializes in predictive analytics. It uses AI to automatically process and analyze data, enabling users to predict future trends and make data-driven decisions.
  • ThoughtSpot is renowned for its AI-driven search and analytics platform. It provides users with the ability to analyze complex data sets using natural language queries, making it a powerful BI tool for technical users. Here's an article comparing Thoughtspot with Akkio, in case you're deciding between the two.

These AI tools not only offer advanced big data and analysis capabilities but also simplify the process, making data science more accessible to non-technical users. As always, most of these tools offer free trials or demos, allowing startups to test their capabilities before committing to a paid plan.

Open-Source Alternatives

Open-source BI tools offer startups cost-effective and customizable solutions, enabling the adaptation of these tools to meet specific needs.

  • Metabase is an open-source data visualization tool that enables users to explore and share data. With its “Ask a Question” feature, users can access data without the need to write SQL queries. While some users have reported challenges with Metabase’s customer service, it’s a popular and cost-effective option for startups looking for an open-source BI tool.
  • Preset is an open-source BI solution designed to meet the needs of modern teams. Offering a range of features, including interactive data visualizations and self-service capabilities, Preset is a powerful and cost-effective option for startups looking to harness the power of their data. While pricing is available upon request, Preset does offer a free trial for users to test its capabilities.


In conclusion, BI tools are essential for startups looking to harness the power of their data and make data-driven decisions. By choosing the right BI tool, startups can improve efficiency, gain a competitive edge, and drive growth.

When evaluating BI tools, consider factors such as features, ease of use, scalability, integration capabilities, and pricing, as well as seeking out user reviews and testimonials.

Open-source BI tools like Metabase, Pentaho, and Preset provide cost-effective and customizable options for startups, while upcoming trends like AI integration and real-time data analysis can help startups stay ahead of the curve and make better-informed decisions.

Ultimately, the right BI tool for your startup will depend on your specific needs and objectives. Take the time to carefully evaluate and compare your options, and choose a tool that aligns with your startup’s goals and vision. If you're ready to give one of the best solutions in AI analytics a go, Akkio is eager to prove its value with a free trial on us!

Frequently Asked Questions

Which tool is best for BI?

When it comes to traditional BI tools, Microsoft Power BI allows for real-time reporting and analysis using performance and trend data. Tableau, QlikSense, Dundas BI, and Sisense are also widely used BI tools. However, it could be beneficial to consider AI tools like Akkio, which are designed to enhance and simplify your BI processes.

What is the easiest BI tool to learn?

When it comes to ease of use, Microsoft Power BI and Akkio are top contenders. Power BI is appreciated for its comprehensive online resources that make it approachable for beginners. Akkio, on the other hand, shines with its AI-driven capabilities that interpret user requests in everyday language, eliminating the need for a steep learning curve. Other user-friendly solutions include AI-driven tools like ThoughtSpot, Levity, and Pecan, which are designed to simplify data analysis and interpretation.

What are BI data tools?

Business Intelligence tools are used to collect, process, and analyze large amounts of data in order to identify patterns and derive insights from it. These BI tools help organizations make tactical and strategic business decisions by examining structured and unstructured data sources such as emails, documents, images, videos, books, and social media posts.

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