StartUs Presents: Dataiku

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Dataiku raised €3,6mln this year, here's what they did with it and how the startup will enable people to build "crazy stuff" with data.

Describe Dataiku in 50 words or less.

Dataiku develops the most productive Predictive Services Development Platform for data professionals. This all-in-one platform, Data Science Studio (DSS), integrates all the capabilities required to build end-to-end services that turn raw data into business impacting predictions quickly.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

I followed the dreams of someone else for fifteen years. That was very educational, but as you can guess, it became frustrating. As soon as I was confident enough and financially independent, I decided to build my own product. So I picked up an area I had good knowledge of (data science), targeting people I liked (data engineers and data analysts), and that’s how it started.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

In 7 years, Dataiku will provide a tool close to magic that will enable users to build crazy stuff with data, like in Minority Report, but with no precogs. Anyone will be able to be a “data scientist” (minus the frustration). In fact, Big Data and Data Science will sound like echoes from the past ; hopefully, the power to use data effectively for financial gains won’t be confined to the Top 10 US companies, but an ability shared throughout the world.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

I measure our success by the satisfaction of the users of our product (paying or not). Beyond revenue or media traction, that’s the only reliable metric for long term success.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

My working day is not intricately related to coming to the office or by the sun. I move a lot from one location to another, and stay up to date with mail, chat, etc. and do a fair amount of plane traveling yearly (Dataiku has offices in Paris and in New York). In fact, I generally prefer to be in different locations depending on what I am doing: a room with a white board and with the space to walk for creative thinking, an open desk to get interrupted by the team (I really like being interrupted in fact – operational efficiency is about giving timely answers to non-strategic questions), a quiet desk for concentration and intensive tasks (writing a book, coding, investor presentations…).

In terms of working habits, I try to avoid meetings and especially meetings that include more than 4 people unless properly scheduled. Also, I try to archive, delete or reply to all my incoming emails before the end of the day.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the service like you imagined it in the beginning?

Actually, we haven’t pivoted yet. Sorry, I know that sounds boring but pivoting was not part of the plan. It’s a shame too because having a pivot story is great for your pitch!

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

For the first two years, we bootstrapped the company up to 20 people and over €1Million in revenue. I believed that the influence of capital risk on the entrepreneur mindset could be the greatest risk for true innovation in the 21st century because it has the tendency to create a monoculture of strategy. That being said, we just raised €3.6 Million this year and grew the company to 50 people. The software industry is generally very capital intensive.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

In the last few months, I tried not to read to much news about the startup world or startup ecosystem. Getting in the ecosystem was a tremendous help when starting the company, but as it grows, it feels like it is no longer related to my actual goals. Again, focusing on the product and our users if the best way to keep a straight course.

What do you look for in team members?

We look for highly autonomous and skilled team members that love the idea of data science becoming mainstream, and can communicate that love. That’s true whatever their position in the company: marketing, data scientists, or developers.

Why would a talent join your team?

Our team is our most treasured asset. No matter what way you choose to look at it, there would be no Data Science Studio if it weren’t for the great people who work for Dataiku. I think that’s one reason why people want to join us: we treasure our team members and recognize hard work. Also, we are different in vision, organization, and mindset. So, if you’re not into software, not into data science, but if you are energetic, curious, hands on, and like it different, apply! Okay, and if you have a phD in machine learning or if you’ve been coding since the age of 5, apply too.

What was your most memorable moment so far?

I have kids. I don’t think that my most memorable moments are related to my company. Sorry to disappoint, but it’s true, when you ask me “which moment can you remember as if it were yesterday”, the first thing that comes to mind is certainly not when we founded Dataiku (though, don’t get me wrong, it was a GREAT moment) or even when DSS 1.0 came out (though thinking about that day does make me smile). No, when you ask me that question, the first thing that comes to mind is my kids.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

Fellow founders, you’ll hear all types of advice, some good, some pretty lame, about founding a startup. “Don’t be afraid to fail”, “always re-invent yourself”, or even “get comfortable with not knowing”. Sure, these are great sayings and probably good advice if you know how to follow them. But above all else, and from personal experience, my biggest advice to you, is: Never ever forget that it is a marathon. Hire people that outsmart you. Yes, people that outsmart you.


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