First Class Graduates From Data Elite Big Data Lab

Stamos Venios, Managing Partner of Data Elite says his company had a vision when they conceived of Data Elite, a lab of sorts, providing a support system for people with ideas for big data companies. This week, the first seven participants are moving onto the next stage.

Venios said from the beginning they conceived of a place to provide more intensive support than startups normally get from a VC. And they wanted to be different from the classic incubator. The idea was to bring in really smart people with mature ideas who needed more than money to transform their visions into a viable business that solves real big data problems.

As Venios pointed out, Silicon Valley is awash in venture capital cash, but in his view, “the early stage model is broken.” It’s not just about getting cash for him, it’s about providing a true support system for companies to build, test and refine their concepts. “What is important isn’t money, but support,” he told me.

Shivnath Babu of Duke University, who is a co-founder of one of the graduating companies, Unravel, said as academics, they have access to business advice and even funding, but what Data Labs gave them was access to experts at the biggest companies like Facebook and Netflix, people who are working with Big Data on a daily basis and have an acute understanding of what products should do and not do.

Unravel describes itself as “an enterprise-grade operations and performance management platform.

People immersed in Big Data have a unique perspective on what their needs are and they can tell people like Babu that their product solves a pain point or it doesn’t. Having that kind of feedback proved invaluable to Babu and his co-founder Kunal Agarwal and they were able to adjust the product so that when they go to market, they can have greater assurance they are delivering a product customers want and need.

It’s precisely this level of help that Venios said he and his co-founders, which include The Social+Capital Partnership, Andreessen-Horowitz, Ron Conway, Formation 8 and Anand Rajaraman envisioned when they launched this project. They have also assembled a who’s who of advisors including Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn and Netflix to work with their clients.

Venios said they were extremely choosy when selecting this first group, starting with 200 applications, narrowing it down to around 80 and eventually choosing these seven companies, graduating this week.