Algorithms are essential for many app developers, but they tend to be dispersed across obscure academic journals and are difficult to access for engineers in the private sector.
That’s a pain point Madrona-backed Algorithmia aims to address. The startup launched today with 800 available algorithms, hoping to make it easier for developers to use the algorithms in their own apps with fewer than 10 lines of code by using Algorithmia’s API.
“Our goal since day one is to unlock the algorithmic knowledge of the world and make it accessible to anyone, anywhere,” said CEO Diego Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer, an Uruguay native, and co-founder Kenny Daniel met as undergrads at Carnegie Mellon University. Daniel went on to pursue a Ph.D in artificial intelligence, while Diego began work at Microsoft as a program manager. In both roles they experienced inefficiencies in the algorithm ecosystem and eventually decided to join forces to create Algorithmia.
We caught up with Oppenheimer for our latest installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Algorithmia gives developers the ability to turn algorithms into scalable web services with a single click. Application developers can then integrate the algorithm into their own applications with under 10 lines of code. Algorithmia hosts the web services, makes them discoverable and enables algorithm developers to get paid for usage.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We realized there are over 20,000 unfilled positions (and growing) for algorithm development, yet only 320 institutions across the globe that can produce the graduates to fulfill them. We think there is a shortage of talent now? Wait two to three years.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “VC funded by Madrona Venture Group, Rakuten Ventures and Deep Fork Capital. Our key angels are Oren Etzioni and Charles Fitzgerald. Why? Right place, right team — each individual or group brings a unique skill to the table which helps us maximize our chances of success.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Simplicity — we have boiled down an extremely tedious and hard process (finding, testing, integrating, and scaling advanced algorithms) to something any developer in the world can do in a couple of lines of code.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Build our platform so it can be run on any cloud service, public or private. It gives us the flexibility to to serve the needs of our users wherever their data might be.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “It’s probably around the corner. In 2013, we started pitching a very immature product to customers; we should have waited because you only get one chance at a first impression. That said, the feedback was key.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “The intelligence of Gates, passion of Zuckerberg, and efficiency of Bezos. Is that fair?”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Eating sushi.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Deep intellectual curiosity and passion.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Get out and talk to everyone and anyone that will give you the time of day. Build a feedback loop into every direction you take with a project — measure, adjust, rinse, repeat.”