CrowdFlower Co-Founder Joins SBA Board

Got a computer and an internet connection? You can work for, a leading provider of Labor-on-Demand solutions.

Formerly known as Dolores Labs, CrowdFlower was founded by Lukas Biewald and Chris Van Pelt in 2007. CrowdFlower is headquartered in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District. Biewald, the CEO, has recently joined the Menlo College SBA Advisory Board. Prior to founding CrowdFlower, Lukas Biewald was a Senior Scientist and Manager within the Ranking and Management Team at Powerset, Inc., a natural language search technology company later acquired by Microsoft. He also led the Search Relevance Team for Yahoo! Japan. Biewald graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.S. in Computer Science.

“I think in the next five years you will see more and more large companies crowdsourcing key parts of their business as they see the benefits. And I think you'll see more and more people doing crowdsourced work as a source of income.”

Our Role in the Technology Revolution

Ironically, Biewald has proven that technology increases the need for a greater human labor force. In the past month alone, Biewald's company has made headlines on the internet, covering topics that include the top fifty big ideas for 2011 and beyond. Business blogs refer to CrowdFlower as a symbiosis of human/machine input, all related to cultivating the human cloud, internet-based workforce. Outsourcing becomes more efficient with labor on demand as the human cloud of skilled workers gains more relevance and use, with its promise of increased quality and accuracy of work produced. With exposure in Forbes, Fox News and Business News, the company is building its cache and visibility.

CrowdFlower takes care of the details by providing instant access to an elastic labor force, while its statistical quality control technology yields results clients can trust. The company touts itself as being “accurate, fresh, and scalable.” For example, a company has built or purchased a list. It then realizes that the list contains many inaccuracies. CrowdFlower Business Listing Verification (BLV) is the solution to clean and append information that keeps company contact listings accurate.

Accuracy is improved because with Business Listing Verification, real people verify business listings in real-time. The data is current because of its just-in-time approach: CrowdFlower verifies and updates business listings when you need them. Its scalable solution produced more than 130,000 hours of work . in just 16 weeks for one of its clients. To complete this work in the same amount of time using traditional staffing or outsourcing, the client would have needed to hire 203 full-time employees (working 40 hours per week). CrowdFlower Business Listing Verification can scale to meet the peaks and valleys of a company's data needs.

CrowdFlower's clients include leading providers of online maps, GPS products, sales databases, and large datasets whose success depends on having business listings that are accurate and current. Core offering includes the cleaning and appending of business names, addresses, phone numbers, and web URLs.

In fact, the product's scalability can be used to respond in global disasters, such as the Haitian and Pakistan earthquakes, when working in collaboration with rescue efforts and military resources. Biewald implemented a system of using a four digit number on cell phones to connect with rescue teams, providing location and describing the nature of injuries during the Haitian earthquake.

“CrowdFlower's reliable service and low-latency were directly responsible for providing critical disaster relief and saving lives.” U.S. State Department

The most interesting aspect about CrowdFlower is that it makes it easy for companies to tap thousands of workers for short stretches and get great quality work that is verified by redundancy of the labor force. “We provide instant access to an elastic labor force. And our statistical quality control technology yields results you can trust,” says Biewald.

Custom solutions exist to meet client's needs. They will take care of designing the jobs, running them, and controlling for quality, even help with technical integration. The customer can improve search relevancy in tracking, human annotation searches, while optimizing data management with de-duplication, similar-product grouping, information harvesting, and product/image categorization of information.

On October 4, 2010, 500 Startups, a new kind of seed startup and accelerator, kicked off a CrowdFlower Fund that helps bring needed crowdsourcing technology to companies. $250,000 will be split across multiple companies who are investigating bringing crowdsourcing into their supply chain—effectively keeping a human in the loop for quick, low-cognizance queries.

500 Startups will invest $10,000 in up to 10 companies for a 1% stake. It may select one or more of these companies for a $50,000 investment and an invitation to participate in the soon-to-be announced accelerator program at the 500 Startups space in Mountain View, CA.

“We see CrowdFlower as an emerging platform that can help fuel innovative, creative startups using its tools and APIs. We also believe in the power of crowd sourcing technology and are excited to help kickstart the CrowdFlower ecosystem.”

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