Recoset-Starting a Company

Tuesday 09 March, 2010
In which our hero describes the latest way that he has found to be too busy to prepare his tax return.

It’s been official for a couple of weeks now: I’m starting a company. Well, we’re starting a company, Daniel and I. We’ve even got share certificates on official-looking paper.

The company is called Recoset (web site isn’t up yet). The name is designed to invoke “recommendation”, as in recommendation engines, most famously used at Netflix. Apart from that there’s no meaning in it: it’s a name for which we could obtain the .com and twitter accounts; which means nothing offensive in any major language; and which is not too hard to remember or spell.

So what are we doing? From my point of view, the essence of the business is:

To give small e-commerce businesses access to the tools that the big guys use.

You see, there are plenty of places that have lots of historical sales data piled up, but can’t afford to buy software that comes complete with a planeload of strangely accented guys in blue suits to install it.
Our expertise is in dealing with difficult data: when there’s not much of it, when it’s noisy, when the structure is hard to tease out. So we’re going to take our expertise and use it to let smaller e-commerce businesses make the most out of their data.

Initially, we’re focusing on recommendations, based upon a scaling-down of the traditional algorithms to small amounts of data (this is much harder to do than scaling up, by the way, especially because you can’t just coast along in the wake of Moore’s law). By restricting ourselves to just e-commerce and not trying to make a general recommendation tool, we can dig really deeply into the problem domain and bring a lot of domain-specific knowledge to bear. And a lot of what a recommendation engine needs to know to do its job is, when presented well, very useful to the people running the business, so we’re going to provide access to that.

Of course, we have bigger plans for the future. But they might not be big in the way that people might expect.