Why your startup should use data competitions

Photo by Brett Jordan

When I first came across Kaggle last year I loved the idea. They run Netflix-style data competitions as a service, and by linking real-world problems with the researchers who can solve them, everybody wins! The only thing that surprised me was that I didn't see startups creating contests, it seemed like a perfect way to bring in some amazingly talented helpers on a tight budget. It stayed on my mind, and when I hit a tough prediction problem with my current company, I knew I wanted to give Kaggle a try.

Happily I've got to know Anthony, Jeremy and the team quite well since I moved to San Francisco, so they were extremely helpful when I turned to them (and they cut me a great deal at starving-startup rates!). I first reached out on Wednesday, and we had the competition live on Saturday morning:

Photo Quality Prediction

With a prize pool of $5,000, we've attracted over thirty teams in less than two days! The results are already very promising, and there's still three weeks left.

If you're a startup, have a look at the amount of intelligent and enthusiastic help we're getting, and think about the problems you face in your business. You want to be focused on your product, so why not get help from experts on the machine-learning side? I bet they'll do a much better job than you have time for, and it won't break the bank. Kaggle's help has meant it's taken very little of my time as well, freeing me up to work on our core technology.

In my next post I'll walk you through exactly what it took to set up the competition through Kaggle's site, but go check it out now, and picture what you could do with dozens of machine-learning ninjas on your team.

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