What it takes to birth a company (hint 🚀) – October 14, 2019
The right stuff 🚀
October 14, 2019
Q&A with EdjAnalytics founder Sean O' Leary
Sean O'Leary, Founder and CEO of EdgAnalytics, LLC
EdjAnalytics is a Louisville, Kentucky company that created a platform for analyzing a company’s data using gamification. Like those computers that have been taught to play chess or backgammon, EdjAnalytics’ platform incorporates the “rules” of the data, not just the data and the desired goals.
Today, we ask Sean O'Leary, one of the company’s co-founders, a couple of questions.
How did EdjAnalytics come to be?
Sean: Indiana University astrophysicist Chuck Bower and world backgammon champion Frank Frigo noticed about a decade ago that bots that played chess, backgammon and other games were improving at a pace that made them consistently better than the world’s best human players. Bower and Frigo set out to leverage sophisticated data analysis in sports and other arenas to improve people’s decision making. For example, for football, that meant analyzing plays to help coaches make decisions that had measurable value to improving their win probability. As I had co-founded Genscape, a Louisville-based organization that offers proprietary data to the global energy markets, Bower and Frigo partnered with me in 2013 to launch Edj.
What can flyover cities like Louisville do to support entrepreneurs?
I don’t think CEOs from large companies understand their influence and importance for early-stage companies. A lot of a startup’s success is really influenced by its opportunity to get to work with large companies and their willingness to commit resources to do business with startups. I’d love to see companies put honest line items in their budgets for startups like they do for the arts or other things they support in the community. We don’t do that right now. The amount of inertia we run into can make it tough for entrepreneurs. I’m encouraged by the creation of the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council and efforts such as Cintrifuse in Cincinnati. If Louisville wants another Humana, we have to have 200 startups.
What is the best thing about having a startup in flyover country?
Accessibility. It’s much easier to get a meeting with CEOs and others who can help your business. Also, there are a lot of smart people in flyover country, and a lot of smart people on the coasts are from flyover country and are at a point in their lives where they want to move back to where they came from. If you can build a really great company culture here and give people opportunities to grow, you can keep your turnover really low. There are fewer opportunities for people here, but at Edj, we try to build a situation where people can’t imagine working anywhere else.
What book are you reading?
Sean: “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice.” by Bill Browder. It’s fascinating to read about how Browder, a large foreign investor in Russia, recognized opportunity, especially on the backdrop of Russia’s very cloak-and-dagger slide toward a more autocratic government.
Editor's note: Answers were edited for clarity and brevity.
TECH WORKERS ARE THRIVING IN FLYOVER
Image source Google Maps screenshot
In our August 19th newsletter, we discussed Smartasset's first-ever ranking of "The Best American Cities to Work in Tech in 2019." Some of you may recall that story. Since we at Flyover Future were only in our 2nd week of publication when that came (and we now have multitudes of new readers!), we felt the topic is worth revisiting.
This topic is important because tech workers fuel innovation and innovation drives economic growth and sustenance. So, as a reader, you will see more national stories about the vitality of technology hubs in Flyover cities and the migration of talent to these hubs.
The algorithm Smartasset used to rank cities was quite comprehensive and was based on multiple factors including: Average salary, cost of living, tech employment concentration, unemployment rate, and the ratio of tech employment to non-tech employment.
The upshot was that 25 cities were ranked and you would need to scroll through the top 17 before encountering a traditional coastal tech hub (Seattle). In fact, all of the top 10 are places where many of you, our readers, live:
U.S. Cellular is deploying 5G for some Iowa and Wisconsin customers
Photo By Public Domain Pictures (CC.0 Public Domain)
Early next year, U.S. Cellular will be bringing 5G to some of its customers in Iowa and Wisconsin. They can expect enhanced data speeds and improved network quality, as well as the ability to connect more devices at the same time.
Minneapolis startup has a new take on mental health support
NightWare, a Minneapolis startup, is re-imagining how to provide mental health support. In January, The Observer ranked NightWare #3 in its list of the 20 Hottest Health Start-Ups in "Flyover Tech" at the 37th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.
Two Des Moines festivals win international awards
It's feeling downright festive in Des Moines. Two of the DSM region's top festivals—DSM Book Festival and World Food & Music Festival—brought home a combined 12 awards at this year's International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) annual convention in Colonial Williamsburg, VA.
IN FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
It's time for Name that Flyover city!
The game where everybody wins, but nobody receives a participation trophy
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