Every tech startup and large company is on the hunt for a data scientist. The Harvard Business Review dubbed it the sexiest job of the 21st century.

A San Francisco-based startup called Kaggle is taking on the talent shortage, whether through its data science competitions or a new service launching today, “Kaggle Connect.” 

“We want to offer a real genuine source of work for a lot of data scientists and something to be proud of,” said Kaggle cofounder and CEO Anthony Goldbloom in an interview with VentureBeat.

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Kaggle’s data scientists are usually Ph.D students that work on tricky challenges and earn cash rewards. The company is best known for its data science competitions, which companies like GE and Pfizer sponsor. One such competition involves identifying patients who will be admitted into hospital in the next year based on historic claims data. A cash prize of $3 million is up for grabs for the winning data scientist.

But not all problems are solved with a competition or by making a new hire. With Kaggle Connect, companies are directly matched with a top-tier data scientist, who takes on a temporary consulting role. Kaggle’s team of developers have built a secure cloud-based workspace and a suite of tools that incorporate the best practices they have seen in previous competitions.

Kaggle charges upward of $30,000 a month for the service (shared between the company and the data scientist), which may seem like a lot. However, Goldbloom said they are solving a problem that is causing companies’ pain. Developers are increasingly rebranding themselves as data scientists to earn a higher salary, but some don’t have the requisite skill set.

Kaggle’s secret is its network of high-performing data scientists and statisticians from around the world. Goldbloom told me that they regularly use their “Kaggle ranking” as a recognized credential when applying for a job.  

“Companies are getting bitten by hiring a data scientist who isn’t really a data scientist,” said Goldbloom. “That’s why we feel that Kaggle Connect is a good fit for the market.”


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