Uncovering Insights via Google Sheets Query

The Google Sheets query function brings some of the power of SQL to spreadsheets. I recently discovered the power of this tool when building some personal finance dashboards. In this post, I’ll walk through three examples of the query function to explore a CrunchBase dataset of startup companies, which I found on Tableau’s resource page. To learn the basics of this function I’d recommend reading one of the following articles:

The CrunchBase dataset contains information about 49,000+ startups including the startup name, website, market, status, funding, and location. The most recent funding in this dataset occurred in early 2015. The data, as well as the query examples below, can be found in this Google Sheet.

Note: The query statement is formed using column letters. If I want to reference the “market” column I would refer to it as “E”, as shown below.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the variables we have to work with and their corresponding column letter in the Google Sheet.

  • A: permalink
  • B: name
  • C: homepage_url
  • D: category_list
  • E: market
  • F: status
  • G: funding_total_usd
  • H: country_code
  • I: state_code
  • J: region
  • K: city
  • L: funding_rounds
  • M: founded_at
  • N: founded_month
  • O: founded_quarter
  • P: founded_year
  • Q: first_funding_at
  • R: last_funding_at
  • S: time_to_funding

In the examples below I’ll share the query, a visualization, and a brief explanation. Let’s jump into it!

1. Number of Startups by State

select I, count(A) where (H = 'USA' and I <> '') group by I order by count(A) desc label I 'State', count(A) 'Number of Startups'

As expected, California is home to by far the largest number of startups. New York trails in distant second with less than a third as many startups as California.

2. Number of CA & NY Startups Over Time

select P, count(P) where ((I = 'NY' or I = 'CA') and P > 1989 and P < 2014) group by P pivot I label P 'Year'

Has California always held the lead over New York? This query allows us to compare the number of startups founded overtime in the two states.

It appears that California has been in the lead for some time!

3. Total Funding by Market

select E, sum(G), count(G) where E <> '' group by E order by sum(G) desc label E 'Market', sum(G) 'Total Funding', count(G) 'Number of Startups'

Pro-tip for aspiring entrepreneurs: consider Biotechnology! With a staggering total of 73+ billion in funding, this market is by far the largest in this dataset.

There’s so much more to dig into with this dataset. What other things would you explore? How would you translate them into a query?