Lukas Biewald, while he was working for search startup, Powerset, which was eventually acquired by Microsoft, came up with an idea that eventually became the basis of the company he co-founded: CrowdFlower. The idea was the result of his need to get help doing mundane tasks. Inspired by Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service, he left Powerset, and along with Chris Van Pelt (now CrowdFlower’s CTO) set up shop in San Francisco’s Mission District and developed a platform that allows companies to tap into labor on demand.
Think of it as putting crowd-sourcing to work for large companies. CrowdFlower has raised $6 million in funding from Trinity Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and angels such as Travis Kalanick and Manu Kumar, and now counts some of the largest corporations among its clients. It even sends work to refugee camps around the world, thanks to a partnership with SamaSource, a not for profit group. “What we have done is turned an unreliable workforce into a reliable work force, based on our platform,” said Biewald in a conversation earlier this week in our office. The company uses machine learning to make intelligent decisions.
You can watch our conversation with Biewald below. It’s the first of many Startup Sessions I’m planning to record with startups and entrepreneurs that have an interesting and unique view of technology and its impact. Their inclusion in this series means that I am deeply interested in such people and their work.