In my last few years with Valiance I have had pleasure of working with teams in early stage and growth startups. My experience needless to say has been extremely rewarding and enriching. In most of these engagements I happen to consult with founding or senior product teams. Most of these startups are at the initial stages of their analytics journey. They are excited, curious and at the same time cautiously optimistic. Yes cautiously! So, these audience fall in one of these three categories

  • Have pre-identified set of business questions they would like data to address but these questions evolve as data starts uncovering patterns. So, its journey in motion kind of exercise.
  • Are uncertain about where to start, what questions to asks but want to do something with data science, machine learning. Partly also because it brings media attention and investment dollars.
  • Have clear need of building predictive analytics algorithms for well-defined business problem.

The third category is obviously most desired to us. You hardly need to sell data science or convince the customer of its benefits. Your customer has done their research and is clear about their needs. Only question remains is whether they are convinced of your capabilities and ability to deliver results.

Second category is a hard nut to crack. At this point client is in early stage of building awareness of both data science and what it can do for them. You are in initial stages of sales cycle and you need to do lot of educating and hand holding. It can take months to a year. In most cases I have seen clients either postponing the initiatives because they find themselves not ready in terms of data, infrastructure, people or the ability to absorb the outcome or they end up doing mini experiments by hiring interns or part timers due to budget issues, most fails but still does some good essentially in that it builds some awareness of the topic.

First category is where the client is aware, and expectations are high. These are what I call as cautiously optimistic folks. They are eager to see the results and improvements that data science promises. They will seek an engagement that delivers clear results in first 3-4 weeks and are ready to collaborate closely. If you can do just that, you will build trust and the relationship that goes longer. What has worked well for me is to set reasonable and clear expectations and deliver on those.

I anticipate accelerated transition from second to first category now more than ever. It is perfect time for digital leaders and businesses to revisit their data strategy, consider adopting data science & machine learning technologies if not yet. Like always we are eager & ready to assist in their journey!

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