Take the time to do the market research

Pivigo: We are the people solution to Big Data

Please introduce yourself and Pivigo to our readers!
Pivigo is the world’s largest community of data scientists. We are excited about what data can do to change our world, and we are passionate about people. Each year, we run Europe’s largest Data Science training programme S2DS, which supports PhDs and MScs in their career transitions into data science.
My role in Pivigo is as CEO, and I am one of two co-founders. I very much understand the “pain” that academics feel when transitioning from academia to industry as I have expe-rienced this myself. I have a PhD in Astrophysics and worked as a scientist for a few years (in Germany) before making my transition to business. I struggled in this transition and was only successful when going via an MBA degree in the UK.

How did you get the idea to Pivigo?
Pivigo was actually born during our MBA. Both Jason my co-founder and I wanted to create a community to bridge the gap between businesses and data scientists. Many businesses are faced with understanding big data and do not know what they can do with it. At the same time, there is a pool of very talented individuals wanting to transition into another career. This is the problem we set out to solve, and that is why we at Pivigo developed not only a data science hub but also the S2DS (science to data science) programme.
Over five weeks PhDs and MSc, are put through an intensive training programme matching them with companies like Marks & Spencer and Royal Mail to complete data science projects. This allows them to learn new skills, show their motivation and network with com-panies. For companies, the benefits are the outcome of the project and of course the oppor-tunity to get to know potential future employees very well before making an offer. When we started it, we thought ‘surely when the companies meet these people they see just how amazing they are’, and indeed that is what happened!

How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
It was a slow and frustrating start in some ways. We did not raise any investment, but just bootstrapped our way forward. That meant the initial stages were slow in evolving, but also meant that we could afford to take the time to really understand the market, and what our clients wanted from us. I think it has made us a stronger business. Starting S2DS especially was tough; because we had no funding we had to ensure that the costs of running the pro-gramme were covered by sponsorship, and we wanted to run a big programme, with many participants, to strengthen the diversity and networking aspects as much as possible. Hence, we needed a big sponsor to support us. We were fortunate to early on secure KPMG as a principal partner. Their belief in us and the programme was the catalyst we needed to really get off the ground.

Who is your target audience?
We have two audiences, as any marketplace would. On one side we engage with the data science and academic community at large. We run a data science Ambassador programme that supports those still in academia with an interest in data science, and we sponsor several conferences such as PyData, DataNatives and Big Data London. On the other hand, we speak with hundreds of commercial and non-commercial organisations; from multi-nationals like KPMG, Barclays and M&S, and SMEs, to exciting start-ups like Stratified Medical, Rave-lin and Digital Shadows. There are many different ways these conversations can go; from general ‘how do we get started with big data’ to specific ‘can you help us develop this AI al-gorithm’ questions.

What is the USP of your startup?
We are the people solution to Big Data. You will find lots of companies trying to build and sell technical solutions, and tools, to solve data problems for companies, but there will always be a need to find people to operate those tools, and to ask the right questions. That’s where Pivigo comes in. We already have a community of thousands of data scientists globally, the core being the over 300 Fellows of our S2DS programme. We also have three years of expe-rience of putting together data science teams with mixed skills and background, and deliver-ing on data science projects.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?
Oh dear, I am not sure there is one! As CEO I am involved in all the aspects of the business, including sales, marketing, operations, strategy, you name it. My days are usually filled with internal and external meetings; internal with the team to support them with the experiences I have gathered over the last four years, and external with clients and data scientists advising them on the best way forward. And of course there is always a healthy dose of e-mails in each day…

Where do you see yourself and your startup in five years?
In five years Pivigo will be the absolute go-to place for, on one hand, aspiring and freelancing data scientists to find their next project to work on, and on the other hand, for companies to find access to the data science community. My vision is to make Pivigo a viable alternative to full-time employment for data scientists. Many technical people would love project-based work, but hate the ‘sales’ bit of having to go find their next employer. Pivigo can take away that pain. And similarly, we want to allow also smaller and perhaps less tech-savvy busi-nesses access to the value that data can deliver by giving them access to rockstar data scientists at good value, thereby democratising data science for the masses.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
Number one would be take the time to do the market research. That doesn’t mean that it is a theoretical exercise, but rather just get out there and talk to clients and try to find out what they really want and need. It is a big mistake to think that your first idea/solution/service/product is the perfect one, it will need tweaks and only your customers can tell you what they should be. So be lean in your development and agile to adapt to what the market needs.
Secondly, do not underestimate the value of networking. We got our business off the ground by relentless networking. You never know where an introduction or a chance meeting at an event will go. I am still amazed now when meetings from years ago suddenly yield a new client or opportunity. Networking is important.
And finally, just do it! Do not hesitate, or doubt yourself. If you have an idea, and the eco-nomic ability to give it a go, then just do it. Set yourself a time limit and a goal, and at that point evaluate if it is worth continuing. But if you do not do it you may end up regretting it, and wondering for the rest of your life what would have happened if you did…

More information you will find here

Thank you Kim Nilsson for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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