Element Data is on the path every startup hopes to walk. The company is adding high-level talent quickly; it’s about to close a $3.5 million funding round; and it’s rapidly outgrowing its office space. When young companies find themselves in that position, typically they weigh a wide-range of factors — emotional and logical — before deciding where and how they’ll expand operations.
But Element Data is going about the move differently. The company’s flagship product is a Decision Insights Computing Engine (DICE), which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help people make decisions based on a broad range of criteria. The team used DICE to inform where to move the company’s office, using 18 different criteria like traffic, employee happiness, security, and parking.
“It took out the emotion of trying to figure out what people were really wanting or asking for,” said Lena Showalter, Element Data’s chief of staff and vice president of operations. “We based it on what made sense for the company and the team members as a whole.”
Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood was the best fit for the company, according to DICE, and that’s where Element Data is looking to house its team that has grown to 14 employees since launching in November.
The startup will close a $3.5 million Series A funding round Friday to help support its growth, which was fueled in part by an acquisition this past April of the technology and team of PV Cube, a Seattle machine learning startup led by two vets of Microsoft Cortana and Bing.
The round was led by returning investor Archibald Cox Jr., who also led the company’s $1.7 million seed round in April. Flying Fish, a new Seattle venture capital firm, also participated in the round.
Element Data is licensing DICE to enterprise customers and a limited group of individuals to test the product. At the enterprise level, DICE can be used to help retailers connect customers with the right products. An automaker, for example, could build DICE into their website to help car shoppers find the right vehicle based on their own criteria.
The company is developing additional products focused on decision-making and collecting data to improve DICE’s predictive capabilities. Element Data will be offering a free version of DICE for consumers as an invitation-only beta in the fall.
McDonald noted that some investors, like Flying Fish, were attracted to Element Data not only because of its business, but of its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Women comprise half of Element Data’s engineering team, a product of a commitment the co-founders made when launching the company.
In an open letter, the founders pledge to “voluntarily resign from employment at Element Data and will forfeit their unvested equity and options” if an internal or external investigation finds they have violated the company’s policies on discrimination.
“One thing we agreed upon when we sat together in our meeting before we even kicked this company off, is [discrimination] is the one thing we are not going to allow to happen,” McDonald said. “So even in lieu of events over the last month, our company, since inception, has said we will never allow this to occur and we will hold every person including the C-levels accountable to this.”
Those recent events include a growing number of women in tech who are coming out with stories of discrimination and harassment.
McDonald co-founded Element Data with CTO Charles Davis and COO Cyrus Krohn. Previous investors include former Amazon VP Stephen Lawler, Ad Lightning CEO Scott Moore (formerly of Cheezburger), and a handful of other angels.