This woman entrepreneur helps startups and SMEs make data-driven decisions with a curated marketplace of scientists and engineers

Entrepreneur Pritha Datta Chowdhury founded Econolytics, a curated marketplace for SMEs and startups to avail services of data scientists and engineers, without the commitment of hiring a full-time resource.

The belief ‘data is the new oil’ is holding more truth with time, and organisations and companies across the world rely heavily on data driven insights. In 2019, the global data analytics market was valued at $49 billion worldwide and is expected to grow into a $77.6 billion market by 2023.

Catching on this trend, Delhi-based entrepreneur Pritha Datta Chowdhury realised every company, no matter its size, wants to make data-driven decisions but either did not know where to start or were intimidated by the cost of resources. 

Pritha decided to make the best of this opportunity and claims to make ‘mining easier for companies’ by creating a network of data scientists and engineers.

Founded in November 2017, Econolytics is a curated marketplace of data scientists and engineers who can deliver projects to companies as a real-time transactional service. 

Pritha Datta Chowdhury, Founder of Econolytics

How it works 

Pritha began by studying the economy and how it works offline, which included looking at the demand structure, market trends and the bottlenecks in meeting those demands, before taking the work online with the Econolytics platform.

The goal was to facilitate all companies to hire analytics talent on demand for a flexible duration, from a few hours to weeks and months. The startup connects companies with experienced professionals in data science without a commitment of hiring a full-time resource, Pritha says.

Interestingly, she notes that the management teams of most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) understood very little when it came to modern technologies. 

“They knew the jargons - AI, big data, and machine learning, without understanding that it could be as simple as looking at all the data they had for the last 20 years and making decisions based on trends. Therefore, it leads to decisions based on intuition and feedback that may not be optimal,” she says.

Still, they would not bother getting opting for analytics because these enterprises either believed it is too costly or lacked the knowledge as to what a data scientist can deliver, sometimes, even when they have one in their team. 

In such cases, the entrepreneurs can post their business problem instead of articulating the input they require and get in touch with consultants through Econolytics to resolve them.

The services are delivered through its management tool and packaged into three categories. They are milestone-based (where the price is determined by a predefined project budget and milestones achieved), contractual (where payment is based on duration such hourly, weekly and monthly), and permanent (where a data scientist is hired as a full-time employee). 

In return, Econolytics earns a commission of 20 percent from each project. 

Based in Delhi with an office in Mumbai, the B2B startup claims to be on track to become operationally profitable this year. It has also leveraged its network of more than 20,000 data scientists to host webinars and blog posts, which Pritha says, has helped in branding and getting clients.

The entrepreneur believes that while there are multiple tech gig platforms that facilitate low ticket size projects and job board without curation, Econolytics is able to assess and evaluate skills of data experts and match them to projects with higher accuracy.

The beginning 

Growing up in Delhi, Pritha her bachelor’s in Economics from Lady Sri Ram College in Delhi and a master’s in Mathematical Economics from the University of Warwick in the UK.

For Pritha, the first lesson in entrepreneurship came from her father who runs a business in the electric and manufacturing sector and treated his team of 15 people as his own.  

She recalls, “I began to discover his journey as an entrepreneur while wrapping up his business after his passing in 2015. It made me truly realise the hard work that goes in building something of your own.” 

Pritha believes that no job can give as fulfilling a feeling as entrepreneurship and was also beginning to feel burnt out in a corporate setup. 

Earlier associated with American Express as a senior risk manager, her last stint before starting up as a chief consultant at economic research and consultancy firm called EconoVision.

The initial investment for Econolytics came from her own savings coupled with pre-seed funding from Joel van der Beek, the Founder of EconoVision.

The roadblocks

As a sole founder, Pritha has to constantly upskill herself to understand the ecosystem and says hiring has been her biggest challenge. 

“Certified talent is expensive and uncertified talent is risky. Therefore, I took my time to recruit the first five people in my team and did most of the heavy lifting in the first two years myself,” she says.

At the same time, the entrepreneur has consciously built a culture that encouraged employees to maintain a work-life balance and stayed away from the “traditional 9-9 startup culture that causes burnout.” 

She also shares that the startup’s productivity has increased during the lockdown; they host team meetings and use collaborative tools to track work progress.

Her entrepreneurial journey has not  been one without challenges. However, she says an unwavering belief in one’s concept is fundamental to sail through hardships.

Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan