Big data and data mining are arguably the hottest commercial trends today. Every company collects data, and lots of it. But few know what to do with it. Adam Stotz, a graduate of the University at Buffalo and chief technology officer of Trove Predictive Data Science, creates data mining software to interpret data, segment markets, prevent fraud, predict business trends, and improve search tools. Stotz taps into local talent to help.
Stotz’s first job in the field was in the Information Science Division at CUBRC, a local company that does defense contracting, intelligence contracting, and research and development work. Because he liked growing new technologies, he thought running a business startup would be a great learning experience.
“My academic background is computer engineering and operations research, so I've always been interested in data analytics and data science software; with Trove it's applied into a new area. Through conversations and meetings with our original founder, Isaias Sudit, I saw an opportunity to take what I was developing at CUBRC and spin it out into a data science software platform targeted toward the electric utility space,” he explains.
Launching his startup was not without its challenges, however. The first was defining the new business’s identity. Stotz and his colleagues knew data and data analytics, but none of them had a utility background. So they set up an advisory panel of utility executives who knew the industry to help them develop a product portfolio that utility companies would want to use.
Even with an identity and relevant product concept, Stotz had to address another concern facing most startups—knowing when to pivot to meet your customers’ needs.
“A lot of organizations and startup companies start with a concept and are sometimes scared to pivot when it makes sense,” he says. “You can't just chase revenue and completely lose your identity. But you do need to shape your identity as you collect feedback and start to sell, incorporating that feedback into small pivotal changes that make sense.”
For example, Trove added a “Science Squad” consulting aspect to its offering and packaged it with its software solution. “The lesson,” Stotz says, “is don't be afraid to morph your offerings where you see opportunity.”
Stotz also sees opportunity in keeping the business in Buffalo. Initially established here because it was receiving support from CUBRC--software developers and data scientists who helped the company grow--Trove will stay in Buffalo because of the access it has to the graduates of the region’s colleges and universities.
“We continue to grow in Buffalo because of its great educational system,” Stotz says. “You need access to great, young, eager folks who are very talented.”
To attract these young employees, Trove hosts career fairs and fosters a work environment that focuses on company culture and up-to-the-minute technology.
“We push a ‘work hard play hard’ environment where we're flexible but demanding at the same time,” Stotz says. “We like to show opportunities for career growth, celebrate our wins, and recognize achievements. Our employees and prospects really enjoy that. (In addition,) creative thinkers and go-getters want to work with the latest, greatest tech. We make sure that we do that.”
Buffalo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has also convinced Stotz to keep Trove in Western New York. “Buffalo is doing great things with startup incentive programs,” he notes. “It’s providing the right incentives and networks for technology startups here.
“Taking advantage of these local programs and networks makes sense, and it's more cost effective than Silicon Valley. There you're a small fish in a big pond, whereas in Buffalo, you could be a really great startup company that isn't crowded out by hundreds of others.”