Mark Schneider, Chief Technology Officer at Zipscene

Mark Schneider, Chief Technology Officer at Zipscene


“We work with data from many sources. Right now we’re dedicated to the restaurant space and we’re one of the only companies that can take data from point of sale and marry it with data from payments and from all the other places where we leave breadcrumbs on the internet. Then, using some very sophisticated algorithms, we develop a person’s affinity to do things within certain contexts. For instance, if it’s a rainy day, do you eat an appetizer or desert? Does the fact that there’s a ballgame or a concert affect your eating habits? We then rate, score and index all of those, and we build segments off of it that can be marketed to. So we’re not only looking for programmers with a specific background, but they also have to deal in and understand the concepts of big data, machine learning and deep learning - all buzz words - but very hard to find. UC and Xavier have a couple very good programs around that and we are seeing some very good design come out of NKU. Some of the smaller schools have more of the artistic user interface development, and that’s important to us because we’re trying to show concepts that aren’t really tangible, they’re contextual things.” 

What’s the state of business technology in greater Cincinnati region? How do we compare to other cities nationally or globally?

“I’m in a pretty good situation to answer that because I worked in Cincinnati for ten years, then worked in Tampa, Florida for 20 years, then worked in the LA market for Red Bull as a CIO for all the Americas, with dealings in South America, the US and in Europe, as Red Bull is an Austrian company. I can say Cincinnati plays really well with what I see in the Florida area, but the difference between Cincinnati and the western markets is depth. I have people here who are just as smart, but not as many of them - they are much harder to find, they are much more in demand and many of them have aspirations to go west because of the money.  The start-up culture in the west is much more prevalent than it is here, although it seems to be more prevalent here than it is in the south. So I think there is a great mix for specific types of start-ups here and young talent because of businesses like Kroger’s, 8451, P&G and GE, all of which have offshoots that help. Then outfits like mine, Zipscene, Astronomer and others that don’t really fit into a true market, can at least go broadly across those markets. We can do that because there are good people here to find, but to keep them is hard!”

[*Conversation: Hack-a-Thon “One of the first things I did when we came here was we got in with Cincinnati Hack-a-Thons. I snapped up six people. We could see how they were working and how they performed under pressure, because of the timeframe.  I took a number of the people here who participated and helped up there and it was really good. And then we were seeing that some of the other start-ups were mimicking what we were doing, and that even became competitive. So once someone settles on something here, because of the lack of depth, you have to keep moving.”]

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