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Ian Ozsvald picture

This is Ian Ozsvald's blog, I'm an entrepreneurial geek, a Data Science/ML/NLP/AI consultant, founder of the Annotate.io social media mining API, author of O'Reilly's High Performance Python book, co-organiser of PyDataLondon, co-founder of the SocialTies App, author of the A.I.Cookbook, author of The Screencasting Handbook, a Pythonista, co-founder of ShowMeDo and FivePoundApps and also a Londoner. Here's a little more about me.

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26 November 2011 - 20:48Five new Brighton businesses

Earlier in the year through Matt Weston a group of us met, funded by the Innovation and Growth Team, to start a peer-group for a set of four (wait for it…) new businesses. The group was successful – and for several of us it led to the realisation that our plans at the time weren’t right. Emily and I were working on SocialTies as our project and trying to find a business hidden in the app, we decided against it and looked to other ideas.

Here’s what we’re working on. I hope it’ll encourage a few other folk to think about building new businesses.

The IGT funding dried up and so we now meet informally, our projects are:

I mentioned that I’d do a little write-up before we leave the country, Chris sent me this blurb about MightyHumble:

mighty humble is a small organic clothing company that believes in creativity, good design and responsible business.  We collaborate with hand picked creative talent to produce unique products using the most ethical and environmental sound materials, manufacturing and suppliers we can find. Our 100% cotton t-shirts are ethically made, certified organic by the Soil Association and manufactured solely using sustainable energy generated from wind power. We envisage our collection as wearable art which enables us to bring the work of some incredible talented people to a wider audience.  For mighty humble business is not just about turning a profit.  Experience has taught us that there’s more too it than that!  We believe a business can (and should) be a creative, fun and positive force.

Jo describeds Bookish as:

the home of unique literary gifts, typographic loveliness and beautiful bookish things – for readers, writers, dreamers, thinkers and bibliophiles everywhere

Jackie says:

Sales Precruitment is all about helping MDs of growing digital and technology companies prepare for recruiting their first (and additional) sales person.  Setting realistic targets, putting measurements in place, interviewing and induction, these are just a few of the things we can help with.  All this is done face to face at present but 2012 is the year I work out how to offer some of this support online… wish me luck!!

From January Emily, Kyran and myself are off to Chile for the StartupChile project, we’re taking TinyEars and StrongSteam as our 6 month projects. A part of our requirement for StartupChile is that we help build the entrepreneurial community – given our work building OpenCoffeeSussex, SheSays, FivePoundApp and GirlGeekDinners we figure we’re well placed to help bring interesting folk together. The opportunity to network with several hundred other folk who have jumped country to found new businesses is simply too good to pass up (along with living in a growing, upbeat country with a strong economy, a new language to learn and some Tango to practice).

For our StrongSteam we’re after alpha testers – we want non-AI developers (particularly web and mobile devs) who want access to image recognition, OCR, data mining and clustering tools. Emily is after collaborators and testers – particularly people with kids and iPad 2s.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

1 Comment | Tags: ArtificialIntelligence, Entrepreneur, Life

26 November 2011 - 18:14Broken economies, an economic thought, freelancer advice

A few of you who know me have caught more than a whiff of my increasingly sour mood over the state of many of our ‘developed’ economies. Between the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, Italy about ready for a bail-out, Spain with 22% unemployment who might also need a bail-out (but…the EU packages can’t cover both countries needing a bail-out [scroll down to 'the tower of terror' diagram] – hence the jittery bond markets), Portuguese and Hungarian debt marked at junk status, Belgian‘s credit rating cut (after their embarrassing bail-out for Dexia which had passed #hoho all the stress tests earlier in the year) it is hard to be positive. The Economist and others now cover serious discussion about a possible end to the Euro.

The Economist also notes that there’s a reasonable chance we’re falling back into recession. It seems that end of Jan and Feb for Italy’s next round of bond auctions could make for very interesting events.

In the US Thanksgiving has been given over Black Friday (to get companies back in ‘the black’), this year the event aced all previous years with the deployment of pepperspray and guns by ‘competitive shoppers’ (such a wonderful euphemism! they can camp overnight and use weapons in the name of shopping but Occupy protesters can do neither in the name of protest). This video showing fights breaking out as shoppers try to win $2 waffle toasters brings it home. Still, at least the Super Committee figured out a way to get past the $15 trillion (and growing) debt pile. Oh, no, they didn’t, they just finger pointed and handed the problem back.

In the USA the losers are the private citizens, the winners are the companies. Over the last 50 years corporate profits are up and personal salary (as a percentage of GDP) is down (the key graphic) – if you run a big company you’ll be sitting pretty, everyone else has to work longer and harder just to stand still.

But it isn’t all grim. Interesting conversations are popping up questioning the basis for our financial systems, it is nice to see people try to plot new ways through to stronger economies or point out our too-relaxed view on recent changes. This begs the question – what happens when we can chart the progression of money (because maybe it is signed a la bitcoin), maybe we can penalise money for sitting still (e.g. letting it expire/evaporate)? The idea of enabling both the creation and destruction of money (in the first article) sounds novel, we rarely see money destroyed as a stabilising act (as in – removed from the system entirely) with our established currencies.  Might this force money to do ‘work’ rather than sit in someone’s bank account?

Finally, this brings me to the question of what one should be doing as a freelancer/small business owner. In a companion post (to come out by Monday) I’ll mention that we’re off to StartupChile for 6 months. For me I’m energised at the idea that in Santiago I can meet several hundred other company founders who have all decided to jump country (from all over the world) to expand their networks, help the locals boot-strap a tech ecosystem and build their companies. Taking risks and changing things around seems like a basic requirement for survival and growth in what’ll become a tougher economic environment (talk of a lost decade or two for the Western economies is now quite common).

Prior to applying to StartupChile I’d already started to build StrongSteam, our new AI/data mining product, with my old co-founder from ShowMeDo (our last big project). The goal is help folk create interesting data mining applications and to make my AI Consultancy more visible (just building and talking on it has increased in-bound work referrals by a factor of 4 in the last few months). Being visible and being fresh is absolutely critical to continued success. A couple of years back I’d realised I was getting stale (‘fat and slow’ as I put it) working for a few known clients. I fired myself for 6 months, built the AICookbook project (now defunct, it served its purpose), co-founded SocialTies and kicked myself into a higher gear.

Some takehomes:

  • If you’re not visible enough yet, take some time out and work on open and visible projects
  • If you’ve become stale then fire some clients and work on new challenges (preferably public ones)
  • Get on stage and talk about what you’ve learned, certainly post blog entries sharing what you’ve learned – being visible is key
  • If you’ve got spare time then dive into new projects, don’t wait to become stale (a mistake I made that cost me 6 months!)
  • Join local groups – we’ve got OpenCoffeeSussex here, plenty of tech groups, HackerNewsLondon an hour’s train ride away – meet new people and collaborate
  • Build alliances with companies you like to work with, help them, partner with them

I figure that’s enough with the ranting, noting it down  is cathartic. Now, back to building StrongSteam.

Hat-tip to @umairh as being the main person to open my eyes to the need to question how the world works over the last bunch of years. I’m much obliged to you. @johnrobb‘s resilient community work is also rather interesting.


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

No Comments | Tags: Entrepreneur, Life