Rahul Basole: Visualizing the Startup Genome

  • flu genome
02 Sep 2016 By Laura Longhine
  • Rahul Basole, professor of interactive computing at Georgia Tech, researches the application of novel computational tools to complex business issues. For his Batten Fellowship project, Basole teamed up with Darden professor Raul Chao to apply those tools to innovation and entrepreneurship systems. The result is “Visualizing the Startup Genome”—a project using data analytics and visualization to map the traits of successful startups. 

    Basole and Chao started with the idea that, just as human beings are defined by the genetic information in their DNA, startups might be defined by a set of unique characteristics or “traits.” Rather than rely on interviews and traditional primary research to find those traits, the two decided to mine and analyze “secondary data” (unstructured data from sources like press releases, business descriptions, and socially-curated databases) for insights into what startups do. Basole then created interactive visualizations to help decision-makers explore and make sense of the information.

    Over the course of Basole’s fellowship year, the pair have presented their work at conferences and submitted it for peer review at several journals. Along the way, they have built the infrastructure for a new science of computational approaches in innovation and entrepreneurship.

    “I believe, worldwide, we might be the only ones applying some of these really novel tools,” Basole said. “Data mining, machine learning, and visualization have traditionally not really been used in innovation and entrepreneurship. And so the collaboration was really a wonderful way for us to test out new things.” 

    Though Batten Fellowships typically last only a year, both Basole and Chao say their current research project is just the beginning. “The goal is more laying groundwork for building much bigger things,” Chao said. They’ve been building a joint research group, with faculty and post-docs from both universities who will meet for a knowledge exchange at Batten. And Chao says a long-term goal is to create a continuing, funded research area at Batten. 

    “I think what makes this unique and exciting is it’s setting up real infrastructure,” Chao said. “We’re putting together a group of people and a topic that go beyond what one researcher is doing.”

    Added Erika Herz, the Batten Institute’s director of research, “Our Batten Fellows Program enables us to bring together faculty with diverse and complementary research interests, each of whom is advancing understanding of the drivers of successful entrepreneurship and innovation.”

    Listen to Rahul Basole and Raul Chao discuss this project on the Darden BusinessCasts, "Research and Relevance." 

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