Interview with Jeremiah Smith
The global startup community is booming, especially if we take a closer look at the past three years. Only in 2016 we've seen 305M new startups!
Since data is the new gold, making data about startups available is crucial for companies and other stakeholders and our founder of the week has the right solution for that problem: Startup Tracker.
The platform is the ultimate search engine for startups that aggregates information from popular providers such as CrunchBase, ProductHunt, Angel.co and local startup communities to build comprehensive up-to-date profiles for each startup. Finally, it helps source missing data using on-demand crowdsourcing.
Check out our exclusive Q&A session with Jeremiah:
What was it about startups that captured your imagination and led you to create Startup Tracker?
We started Startup Tracker while I was doing my Ph.D. in AI at Imperial College. While you are doing AI, data is one of the most important things that you think about work with. So I'm just kinda naturally data gig. I've been building products for I don't know how many years now and so it just came as a natural inspiration to combine something that I'm very passionate about and something that I know very well.
Search engines have a lot of power – the way they rank content determines what gets found, and as a result, which relationships are formed. How does Startup Tracker ensure the right people find the right startups?
That is the most important question. The challenge of the entire digital age is to connect the right people with the right information. The way we plan o do that is that we let the users set criteria to specify which kind of companies they are interested in and whenever we detect a new company on our radar which matches those criteria we let the relevant users know. That is really important because we wanted StartupRadar to be...
Startup Tracker exists as a web application and a browser extension. How did you come to decide on these delivery methods?
We choose the browser extension format by chance actually because StartupTracker started as a TechCrunch distrupt hackathon and then evolved into a web app, logically because the process extension format is actually really constraining in terms of adding features and of viral growth mechanisms. Retrospectively it is a really good reason why you’d use a browser extension format, I would definitely recommend starting with a web app.
Do you plan to introduce any new uses for Startup Tracker as your user base continues to grow? Can you tell us about any plans for monetization?
Of course we have a lot of things in the pipeline for StartupTracker. In the very near term is sending around notifications and connecting startups with the right users, customers, partners, investors etc. Monetization is really tricky because we want to keep Startup Tracker free so the traditional way to monetize platform like ours will be to have a self-served targeted AD platform which is a possibility but actually, we are working on something more ambitious.
You must come into contact with an enormous number of startups in your line of work. Have you noticed any attributes that the most successful startups tend to have in common?
All generalizations are false, including this one, so it is difficult to say what drives a successful startup. What I will say is that the game is definitely changing and it is not just about making great products but it is really about distribution so the startups that usually do well usually are the ones that have a sort of in-built growth mechanism within their product.
Which are the most exciting capabilities of your search functionality? Do you have any innovations in the pipeline?
I'd say the most important thing about our search functionality is essentially the fact that you can search by the company name or filters. The reason why that's important is that there is so much information out there that we want to go from a kind of pole model, where you come on a platform, search for certain companies and then find them through it, to a push model where you tell StartupTracker what kind of companies you are interested in.
We understand you source information on startups via crowd-sourcing, as well as from the startups themselves. How do you ensure the info you receive is accurate?
We used three different data collection mechanism. The first one is aggregating public data, the second one is crawling public information like news articles and the third one is crowdsourcing. I think that the last one it's the most important thing that we do because most of the data that people are looking for, especially for early stages' startups, is not available online and it has to be source from startups directly.