Chief Data Architect and inqiri Co-founder, Travis Schwieger, first partnered with CEO James Elste almost a year ago, on December 12, 2012. Since that initial meeting, Schwieger and Elste have worked tirelessly to bring inqiri to life.
Schwieger brings an extensive background in the data domain and a background in business and is known for being a, ‘data geek’. Amidst building inqiri and the chaos surrounding startups, Schwieger and Elste advocate on behalf of the startup community in Reno. As apart of Startup Weekend Reno on November 22, Schwieger volunteered to act as a coach for the potential startups.
Why did you decide to co-found inqiri with CEO James Elste?
As soon as Jim started talking about what we were going to do, I was like, ‘This data is going to be fascinating. I can’t wait.’ So I’m a complete data geek. I said, ‘I can build this database, let’s do it.’ But it just sounded like an interesting proposition too and it’s morphed a little bit since we’ve started. But it’s always kind of had the same underlying structure and process to it and since Day One I thought, ‘There’s going to be so much we can do with this data,’ and in the end, now we’re actually having it out in the world and having people play with it and we can show what we can do with the data and people are just fascinated.
You spend a lot of time and energy with Elste encouraging the startup community in Reno. Why?
Because if we can get Reno as a great place to start startups and kind of get a lot of them going here, we can start getting investors up from the Bay, we can start getting employees up from the Bay, and people understand really how great Reno is. This is a great place to have a company and just having startups is always fun so we want to be fostering that.
Is it realistic for Reno to have a startup community?
It’s going to be hard. The Reno Collective presented at One Million Cups and they were talking about their job board and there was a question asked, ‘Are there more jobs out there than there are developers?’ They answered, ‘Oh yeah, absolutely.’ And that’s the thing. With this fostering of the community we need to start working with the college to tell them what kind of skills we need. Either Truckee Meadows Community College or the University of Nevada, Reno. Say, ‘Hey, this is what you need to be teaching your student developers.’ So they’re ready for the job when they come out. That’s one of the things I think is going to be paramount to the startup community having a foothold in Reno; is getting that pipeline of developers. It’s going to take a lot of work but to get the startup momentum going. We’re already starting to see the momentum because we’ve got inqiri, Pinocc.io, ustyme, Cloudsnap, the Reno Collective, TrainerRoad, and EasyKeeper. We’ve got all these startups that are really starting to build. So we’re building the mass that we need now we’re going to need to build the development community around it.
How did you become involved in the upcoming Startup Weekend Reno on November 22?
One of the people that’s running it, Bryan McArdle was in my MBA class at UNR. Then I saw him at One Million Cups one week and I reconnected with him. He presented about the startup weekend. I emailed him later and said, ‘Anything I can do to help. Even if it’s just bringing my developers down to be seen, you know, coding at the same time and just part of the mass that’s there.’ And he replied, ‘Well, it’s not that big of a deal, we’re going to have plenty of people, but if you want to be a coach…’ I asked what was involved with being a coach. He said just helping startups with any advice, whether it’s data advice, or anything else. I told him, ‘Sign me up, I’m willing to help. I’ll give a weekend to that, no problem.’
What is in inqiri’s future?
There’s always pipe dreams of a startup. Like, ‘Hey, we’re going to get acquired for a billion dollars.’ That’s always just a pipe dream. What Jim and I have always talked about is we want to grow a successful business. We want to turn this into something that’s really viable and is sustainable. This is something I can see really taking off and making a difference in decision-making. Hopefully in the next year, everyday people are coming to inqiri. For example, ‘I’m going to buy a new car. I’m going to go do an inqiri on that.’ As people start using inqiri and that mass that collective intelligence needs to be useful. So as soon as people start seeing that and seeing the use of inqiri, that’s going to be really cool because they can be like, ‘Hey, do an inqiri on that.’ We’re in the vernacular.