Companies are hungry for data scientists. The job of analyzing and interpreting tons of digital numbers was listed as top occupation in America in a recent report by Glassdoor, which listed over 4,000 openings with a median salary of $110,000.
Schools jumped at the opportunity to meet the demand by offering a plethora of degrees, certifications and online classes. Startup Institute launched a part-time course last year, followed by Harvard’s master’s degree program in Data Science just a month ago. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
While new professionals are being trained, some local businesses started offering hands-on solutions to companies in need of data scientists. VQL, for example, launched an online tool that allows non-experts to perform basic data analysis. For more complicated tasks, the company may need data scientists on a project basis. And data scientists are actually starting working freelance, as Greg Reda – the first data science hire at Chicago-based GrubHub – did.
For many companies, hiring bigger consulting firms … is impossible. We’re addressing that gap.
To connect companies with data scientists, local startup Experfy is working on both creating a marketplace of available experts as well as training current employees or people who want to start a career in data science.
First, the company created an online network of over 30,000 data experts, but also machine learning, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things experts, including academics and full-time consultants. By using the marketplace, companies can post the projects they need help with, connect with the right people and hire on-demand data scientists.
“On an average, I would say that every project gets about 10 to 15 proposals,” Jyotsna Khan, a senior manager at Experfy, during an interview. “The client would select like, say, three people and … pick times to interview them. Everything happens through the platform.”
As for how experts are selected to be part of the platform, Khan said they’ve set the bar really high. “It’s not a place for anyone to join,” she said. The company has developed an algorithm that gives a score to candidates based on the data they provide (so the company coherently uses data science to rank data scientists, I guess).
Because of this side of the business, last year we dubbed the company the “Uber for Data Science.” In fact, Experfy has been based in the Harvard Innovation Labs for almost four years. After raising its first round of funding two years ago, the company moved to the Harvard Launch Lab.
The second part of its business, which launched around eight months ago, is the training platform, where the same experts who consult on Experfy also provide online training in Big Data, Data Science and IoT. The platform is composed of around 50 courses, including “Probability and Statistics for Data Science with R” ($299) and “Data Science for Sports” ($499). Classes are meant for individuals as well as for corporate training.
After having been bootstrapping for the first year, Experfy has raised $1.5 million so far and it’s currently raising its second round. According to Khan, Experfy counts among its client Macy’s, Vistaprint and Deloitte.
“Almost every sector, almost every company [needs to work with data],” Khan said. “For many companies, hiring bigger consulting firms … is impossible. We’re addressing that gap.”