In our continuing series on Madison Leaders & Influencers, we chat with Taralinda Willis, co-founder of Curate, a web scraping platform that combines artificial intelligence and automation technologies to deliver comprehensive answers to business intelligence questions.
Tell us a little bit about Curate and what made you decide to found it.
Curate was founded when my co-founder, Dale, and I were part of the gener8tor accelerator program and realized that the company we had been working on, unfortunately, wasn’t gaining any traction. gener8tor asked us to think about what other knowledge and skills we had to start something new. Dale, who was working on his PhD in Computer Science at the time, has experience in web scraping technology, and we looked around the marketplace and realized no one was using artificial intelligence in web scraping. We decided to pursue that path, and that’s how Curate was born.
The artificial intelligence piece allows us to provide more contextualized and relevant results to our clients, and also allows us to report changes in data over time. We’re also working on developing natural language processing to better query and search for data, which will be another advantage we have over competitors.
What’s been your biggest surprise in launching a start-up?
This isn’t a very exciting answer, but I was surprised by how challenging it can be to find regulatory laws and follow them. Everyone talks about fostering small business and innovation, and that’s great, but there’s this really practical piece with following the regulations that’s surprisingly difficult. Also, finding the right product for the right fit with the market is a challenge. Mark McGuire [serial entrepreneur and Managing Director of gener8tor Minnesota] references that quote about how being an entrepreneur is like jumping off of a cliff and building the airplane on the way down, and it really is like that.
How has launching in Madison contributed to Curate’s development, and what changes would you like to see here to encourage more innovation and entrepreneurship?
Dale and I both went to college in Madison, and we fell in love with the city. We’ve continued to stay here because Madison is getting better and better every day for entrepreneurs. We feel really good about the connections we made after going through the gener8tor program. I don’t think that most people realize what an asset gener8tor is to our community and its entrepreneurial growth.
I do think Madison has some work to do in building its network and support of entrepreneurs. There are lots of people here beyond gener8tor doing really incredible things, including Madworks and Starting Block. The entire community should support these endeavors and help launch more businesses. Attracting and retaining top talent is what makes Madison so incredible.
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