I have been building my own startup company for the past 1.5 years. Throughout this journey, I’ve been fortunate to connect with many brilliant data scientists from France, Sweden, the US, and other parts of the world. They approached me to learn how I embarked on my entrepreneurial path. Today, I’d like to share some insights that might help you transform your useful ideas into real, thriving businesses.

The Journey Begins with a Thoughtful Plan

When asked about the most crucial advice I could give, I always emphasize the importance of thinking through the steps needed to transform a useful idea into a real business. It’s a common scenario: a data scientist develops an app or a software tool based on their experience in a niche area. While the product may be incredibly useful, the key question is whether it is sellable.

Take air, for instance. It’s indispensable but not something people pay for in most contexts. Similarly, is your product or solution something people will pay for? If the answer is no, the next question is whether you can attract enough users or traffic to monetize through other means, such as ads or partnerships.

Not all technical solutions come with a clear commercialization path from the outset, but they all eventually need sustainable revenue to survive. Avoid wishful thinking and be brutally honest with yourself. Evaluate the market demand, the competitive landscape, and your unique value proposition. Be prepared to pivot if necessary, but always keep your eyes on the goal: creating a product that solves a critical problem AND generates revenue for you.

The Reality of Financial Stability

Another essential piece of advice is to find a part-time job to support yourself during your startup journey. Realistically speaking, most people do not have the luxury of pursuing new ventures without a stable income, especially if you’re mid-career with a family to support. A part-time job can provide the financial runway you need to develop your business without the pressure of immediate profitability.

Ideally, this part-time job should be in your area of expertise. This way, you can leverage your skills and get paid a competitive rate, rather than taking on a less relevant job that might not utilize your strengths. For instance, instead of becoming an Uber driver, seek opportunities where your data science skills can shine. This not only keeps you financially afloat but also ensures you stay connected to your professional network and continue honing your expertise.

When the Glory of the “Platform” Is Gone

One thing I did not realize when I started 1.5 years ago is that small businesses face many disadvantages. For example, large clients have established legal teams to ensure the legal contract is worded to protect themselves as much as possible. It won’t be mutually respectful and fair in some cases. Additionally, when I was in the buyer role, I was approached by people with various purposes at conferences. But now, all these glories are gone. You become “nobody.”

However, I remember what Thasunda Brown Duckett, the President & CEO of TIAA, said: ‘You rent your title, but you own your character.’ Building your own business is by no means easy because you are creating something that is truly yours – not a temporary rental that others can take away.

Final Thoughts

Starting a business is an exhilarating journey filled with both challenges and rewards. It’s a path that requires careful planning, brutal honesty, and financial pragmatism. I enjoy it very much and my business is expanding in the harsh market! To all my fellow data scientists considering this journey, I hope these three pieces of advice can help you transform innovative ideas into real, sustainable businesses.

Remember, the road to entrepreneurship is not a sprint but a marathon. Good luck!


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