Sean Gourley, CTO, Quid

Gourley, 33, is the technical lead and founder at Quid, an under-the-radar big data company based in San Francisco that wants to “augment human intelligence.” The analytics provider counts Microsoft among its high-profile customers. Gourley is perhaps best-known for his postgraduate research on the correlation between fatalities and the frequency of attacks during the Iraq War. Watch his TED talk here.

VentureBeat: Why did you decide to become an enterprise entrepreneur?

Sean Gourley: It gives you the ability to something technically very challenging. The sci-fi-type problems will be solved in the enterprise.

VentureBeat: What was the greatest challenge in the first six months?

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Gourley: It was learning to make the move from academia [Gourley earned a Ph.D in Complex Systems at Oxford University] to the startup world. It was a shift from trying to understand the world, to building a product for other people to understand the world. I never had a job before starting my company, and suddenly I am hiring people. By nature, I’m the anti-entrepreneur. I want to build cool things, and give them away.

VentureBeat: Do you have mentors that inspire you?

Gourley: Dr. Neil Johnson, a physicist at the University of Miami, is my intellectual touchstone. Jim Buckmaster, Craiglist’s CEO, and Max Lechin, the CEO of Slide and a boardmember at Quid.