Is your startup struggling to solve a tricky data challenge? Data science company Kaggle is launching a program today to rally its community of 70,000 statisticians from around the world to solve your most enduring problems.
The only catch? The new program known as “let the crowd be your cofounder” is only open to small startups, and founders will need to set aside $5,000 in prize money or 0.5 percent in company equity for the winning submission. Still, it’s a darn sight cheaper than hiring a full data services team.
Kaggle is a San Francisco-based startup that hosts data science competitions, typically for large companies and nonprofits like the Hewlett Foundation, AllState, and GE. For instance, The Hewlett Foundation offered up $100,000 in prize money to the first person that could create an algorithm for scoring essays the same way a human grader would.
Kaggle’s CEO Anthony Goldbloom told me he realized that fast-growing tech startups are storing vast volumes of consumer data but often don’t know what to do with it.
“I got really excited about the idea of data-driven startup just as I was starting Kaggle,” said Goldbloom in an interview. Before launching the program to the public, Goldbloom worked closely with three startups to solve their data challenges:
- Jetpac, the travel app that turns friends’ Facebook photos into a travel album, used Kaggle to very quickly create an excellent algorithm for choosing highest-quality photos.
- The online test-prep startup Grockit used Kaggle to predict which test questions a student would answer correctly, allowing students to focus their test preparations by identifying areas of weakness.
- Health tech startup Practice Fusion invited anyone with an interest in using electronic medical record data to identify patients suffering from Type 2 Diabetes.
For Kaggle’s community of data nerds, it’s an opportunity to tackle some interesting problems. Meanwhile, the startups that are chosen for the program might get an algorithm that will power their business. For founders, it’s also an opportunity to source engineering talent for the purposes of hiring later down the line.
Interested in applying to Kaggle’s startup program? Startups with fewer than 30 employees will be able to submit competition proposals on the company’s website describing their data problem and providing a sample of their data. Kaggle’s team will select the five best proposals to run as competitions.