Felix Gray Uses Data to Get Insights on Eyesight

New York-based Felix Gray is an eyewear company that creates intelligent and fashionable glasses designed for tech users who stare at computer screens all day. Its handcrafted glasses are engineered to filter the most harmful wavelengths of high energy light emitted from screens, helping users reduce eyestrain, headaches and blurry vision. 

Houtan Fanisalek joined Felix Gray as its CTO in 2016, taking on responsibility for technical projects and data analysis for the company. As reporting tasks, financial requirements and requests for data started to pile up for the young startup, Fanisalek knew that Excel could no longer handle their data needs and began to evaluate analytics platforms.

“Our biggest data problem was just establishing one true data source for the organization,” said Fanisalek. “The tech infrastructure we’ve built here is very customized, so to create a bunch of different dashboards across the business was going to be a lot of trouble, especially with our fairly small tech team to support them. That’s why we rely on Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to directly talk to our database and tap into all the data sources to create those reports for us.”

In the evaluation process, Fanisalek and his team prioritized simplicity to get up and running. They needed a platform to quickly get reports out so they wouldn’t go even another week flying blind without accurate reporting on operations and customer service data. Fanisalek and other developers on the team were already familiar with SQL and working in it regularly, so Sisense for Cloud Data Teams’ intuitive SQL-based interface provided a fast learning curve.   

“Sisense for Cloud Data Teams was the quickest solution to implement because we didn’t have to learn any new languages or build models out ahead of time like with a competing BI solution platform,” said Fanisalek. “Our team was very developer-based at the time, so it wasn’t very efficient for us to go and learn a new language – it’s a lot easier to just do queries rather than create models if you’re just focused on views. We really just wanted to start with basic SQL queries to accurately get our operations data out of the database and visualize it, and Sisense for Cloud Data Teams fit perfectly for that.”

Another priority for Felix Gray was value – Fanisalek says other competitors provided higher price points than Sisense for Cloud Data Teams, and the additional cost of investing dedicated staff to create reports in a proprietary language added to the potential expense. Sisense for Cloud Data Teams also stood out because its onboarding process was extremely smooth, allowing the Felix Gray to make the transition quickly.

“I did not have great sales team experiences with some of the competitors. With Sisense for Cloud Data Teams, the onboarding process was very straightforward,” said Fanisalek. “Everything was quick to set up, we didn’t have any issues, and someone from the team had already set up a few reports for us with our own data, so we already saw everything we needed to see right off the bat. The simplicity of that process plus the value we’d get from Sisense for Cloud Data Teams just made it a very easy decision.”

“Our team was very developer-based at the time, so it wasn’t very efficient for us to go and learn a new language… We really just wanted to start with a couple basic queries to accurately get our operations data out of the database and visualize it, and Sisense for Cloud Data Teams fit perfectly for that.”

Houtan Fanisalek
Houtan Fanisalek, CTO, Felix Gray

Democratizing Data Company-Wide

Across the company, Sisense for Cloud Data Teams is making an impact every day by helping each team make data-informed decisions in real-time. The operations team uses daily email reports to share visualizations externally with its optical labs, return centers, and quality control team, so everyone has regular access to data on how many frames have been sold without constantly needing to ask Fanisalek to pull new reports.  

“Sisense for Cloud Data Teams has just provided a view into all of our data that makes it easier for each team to get that information without having to come back and ask me,” said Fanisalek. “I don’t have to invest my time and resources building dashboards or new software to do what Sisense for Cloud Data Teams does in a few queries and clicks.”

Felix Gray’s customer service team has built a number of daily reports that highlight service issues and track shipments, while the marketing team uses Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to better manage direct-to-mail campaigns, by drilling down on very specific parameters to create lists of which people should receive which mailing.

Meanwhile, the company’s founders and other executives are constantly keeping an eye on the dashboards to ensure everything is up-to-date and the business continues operating smoothly. As Felix Gray prepared for its most recent funding round, Fanisalek says Sisense for Cloud Data Teams played a key role as investors did their due diligence on the company.   

“Investors want really detailed, comprehensive reports, and Sisense for Cloud Data Teams just made it a lot simpler, where we can put all those together and show an investor a dashboard with actual, live data connected to our database,” said Fanisalek. “It’s much more trustworthy when people can see data that’s coming in directly, instead of Excel sheets – Sisense for Cloud Data Teams really added an additional layer of validation for us.”  

Fueling Business Growth

The real-time reporting of data from Sisense for Cloud Data Teams is enhanced by several key features that help facilitate better data access across the Felix Gray team. The Sisense for Cloud Data Teams cache reduces load times significantly from Felix Gray’s replica database, and the single-sign on functionality reduces barriers to users getting started with data analysis. Most of all, the 5-second response time via chat makes it easy to connect directly with Sisense for Cloud Data Teams’ customer support staff.

“Asking questions to the team and having someone answer you immediately is very, very helpful. It feels like having dedicated support, all the time,” said Fanisalek. “The sales team was really helpful in getting us through that initial hump of working in Sisense for Cloud Data Teams, and then our experience with our account managers and everyone else has been great – it’s just a friendly group of people to work with.”  

Looking ahead, Felix Gray’s team expects to continue its growth and double down its focus on becoming more data-driven. Fanisalek is planning deeper integrations with Sisense for Cloud Data Teams and AWS Redshift to integrate all of the company’s data sources to further establish a single source of truth for data at the company.  

Today, Fanisalek’s team includes just one other developer and a data analyst, but several more hires are on the way. They have a new financial planning analyst on the way to dig deeper on their cash flow data, while a new marketing hire is expected to expand growth marketing efforts. These new team members will use Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to answer not just questions about their business today, but look ahead to project how the trajectory of the business will change over time.

“In order to continually grow our revenues, we need to have the right data analysis process in place to understand the future of our business,” said Fanisalek. “Digging in more with Sisense for Cloud Data Teams will help us start creating goals for ordering new frames and products based on historical data and really drive the future success of the business.”