Niche Software Technology Helps Researchers Make Sense of Survey Data

by Geoff Dutton

AlgentaIf you have ever worked with massive amounts of data you already know that a single column heading in a dataset of 10,000 columns isn’t the easiest to work with.

Colectica, a new software product from Algenta, sets out to solve that problem through advanced metadata organization aligned with the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) standard approach for sharing data among researchers.

Co founders Dan Smith and Jeremy Iverson have been working full time on commercializing Colectica since 2006 using contract work as a funding source as well as receiving grants from the National Institues of Health. Each is also part of the Technical Implementation Committee for DDI.

What started as a series of prototypes in 2005 has transformed into a fully fledged product offering targeted towards research institutions and governmental agencies that collect large amounts of data. Algenta already has a few big name clients such as Statistics Canada-RDC Network, UW-Madison, Cornell and Altarum Institute. Dan estimated that come January, Colectica will be fully ready for a big sales push.

The University of Minnesota currently contracts out part of the development of its Computer Vision to Algenta; since their office is right on the West Bank (and with the U being a huge research institute), Algenta sees the U of M as potential customer for Colectica as well.

“Colectica is an ideal solution for researchers because the problem is so prevalent,” says Iverson, noting “the main competitors are internal development and not doing anything at all.”

While the bootstrapping is working so far, outside funding isn’t off the table. “An [obvious] benefit to raising capital would be quicker development of new software additions, but the biggest benefit would be the ability to have a focused sales and marketing force,” said Dan.

“Switching between coding mode and sales mode…is tricky,” Iverson admits.