Google Machine Learning Startup Competition
In early March 2017, the LiftIgniter team attended the Google Cloud NEXT Conference in San Francisco. It was a homecoming of sorts for us - when LiftIgniter was launched in 2014, GCP was not advanced enough to handle real-time personalization (ironic, given that the internal servers at Google were some of the best in the world). Coming back to Google and moving billions of pageviews a month from AWS to GCP was a big deal for the company.
Why? Back in 2012, when Google put together a team of their top machine learning PhDs to build the world’s first machine learning personalization engine, no one knew whether it would work. It did - spectacularly - and your addiction to YouTube was never the same. LiftIgniter’s co-founder, Indraneel Mukherjee, was part of the five person team who built that personalization engine. Neither he nor anyone else on that team knew that less than five years later, he would leave Google to help enable personalization across the digital world.
Google Cloud Platform
Flash forward to 2017 at Google Cloud NEXT, where Google announced the Google Machine Learning Startup Competition by Google and Google Cloud Platform, a smart way for Google to promote how great GCP is becoming as a platform for machine learning startups and a natural fit for us.
This June, we found out that we were selected as one of the 10 finalist companies for the Google Machine Learning Startup Competition. Over 350 companies applied - a less than 3% acceptance rate. While we don’t know about all of the machine learning companies that threw their hat in the ring, it’s safe to assume that many were made of extremely high quality teams with amazing technology.
It is a massive honor to be one of the finalists.
As a finalist, we have already won $200,000 in GCP credits. For a startup with as much data as we have, that is a huge savings (which we’ll use up quickly). Of course, just like every competitive company, we’re not content just to be one of the top 10, we’re shooting for the win and $1 million in GCP credits. On top of the credits, the companies are vying (if they want) for an investment of up to $500k from top VCs, technical support from Google engineers and, of course, great visibility!
Judges & Pitch
The judging will be tough as it’s not just about a company’s machine learning prowess but also the business model and potential for long-term, widely distributed use of machine learning. The judges are all VCs from top firms including: Emergence Capital, Data Collective, a16z, Google Ventures, Greylock, Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital, and NEA.
Each company only has 3 minutes to present plus a few minutes for questions. The event takes place this coming Wednesday, July 12. Wish us luck!! FTW. Depending on WiFi and distractions, we’ll try to live tweet things. Follows us @liftigniter and feel free to tag @GoogleCloud and/or #GoogleCloudML.
Note: there was zero requirement to be on GCP to participate or apply and I believe about 50% of the finalists are not on GCP today. That is unfortunate for them since that $200k (and potentially more) in credits will go unused.