Startup profile: Kaggle

Nicholas Gruen talks about his quest for 'the perfect mind' and the future of data analytics
  • Lisa Banks (Techworld Australia)
  • 30 August, 2011 12:24

The future of data analytics could be driven by online communities rather than the work of analysts if the success of Kaggle is anything to go by.

Kaggle chairman, Nicholas Gruen, talked about his company at last week’s Tech23 Awards in Sydney, saying the start-up runs ‘competitions’ to attract the brightest minds from across the world to solve complex company problems.

According to the company's website, Kaggle is a "platform for data prediction competitions" and allows other businesses to post their data and have it analysed by data scientists worldwide.

“Kaggle is about data analytics, and predictable analytics is about understanding predictable data in order to predict the future,” Gruen said.

“Our job is about finding the most perfectly prepared mind to solve a very specific problem and we have blown that out of the water — a typical result for a Kaggle competition.”

Gruen says the community of ‘Kagglers’ is populated by individual participants, with a niche talent for an industry vertical rather than experienced analysts with an impressive CV.

“NASA wanted us to help them model dark matter and wanted a perfectly prepared mind to do this. Is he an astronomer? No, he’s a PhD student,” Gruen said.

"Not one is a professor, not one could have been selected from their CV and if you win one Kaggle competition, it isn't a guarantee of winning another one; the field is that varied.”

Citing the online community generated by Kaggle as being the future of the business, Gruen said the concept has already saved companyies millions of dollars by being able to predict future industry trends.

“Companies have asked us to run questionnaires for them and one of these is the Heritage Provider Network in the United States,” Gruen said.

“If we can predict who is most likely to seek healthcare in the next six months, we are likely to make healthcare much more simple and save the company billions of dollars.”

Kaggle is the latest project for Gruen, who last year acted as the head of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, handing down his report card on the major parties' use of Gov 2.0 principles.

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Techworld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU