Welcoming Auquan to Episode 1

Maths puzzles + 10,000 data scientists = power to beat financial markets

In the last few years, data scientists have stepped into the spotlight as modern-day superheroes. Whether we realise it or not, the work of data scientists lies behind most of our daily experiences. From the flights we take, to the food we eat, to the buildings we sit in, to how our pension pots are invested.

In fact, the finance industry has more job openings for data scientists than any other industry. But while demand is high, the supply of skilled data scientists is not even close. Especially rare, are data scientists with financial expertise.

At Auquan, a global community of data scientists is proving there is a new way to beat financial markets: by playing games and solving fun maths puzzles.

When we met London-based Auquan (pronounced awe-quan) they had already worked with some of the world’s biggest investment funds, managing capital in excess of hundreds of billions of dollars. We were impressed by just how much Auquan’s approach has improved the performance of their clients’ models.

Auquan achieves this by allowing investment funds to translate complex financial problems into mathematical games, these are then tackled by its network of 10,000 data scientists, regardless of financial expertise. This provides access to more machine learning talent than any single fund could ever hope to hire.

The equation is simple: more data scientists equals multiple solutions which results in superior fund performance.

When we met the founders, Chandini and Shub Jain, it was immediately obvious how uniquely suited they were to building this business. They share an infectious excitement about solving math problems and are life-long math puzzle enthusiasts.

Chandini is an experienced derivatives trader. At Optiver, she traded volatility arbitrage strategies and was involved first hand in making the shift from discretionary to automated trading. Shub, meanwhile, has been building technology for the likes of Microsoft and Gusto in San Francisco.

Together they are on a mission to translate even the most complex machine learning problems into fun and engaging puzzles for the best and brightest minds to solve. Chandini and Shub are supported in their mission by a passionate team spread across London and Bangalore.

Since launching Auquan’s community has grown to over 10,000 puzzle-loving data scientists from the likes of Oxford, MIT, Amazon, Google and Uber. These data scientists around the world compete to solve the puzzles on Auquan’s platform and submit their solutions in a bid to dazzle and win prizes.

A recent Auquan competition winner, Mike Axiak, is a senior software developer at Hubspot and a graduate from MIT:

“I didn’t have any experience in finance, but the problems on Auquan’s platform had interesting twists – like a stock selection problem disguised as a challenge to create a well balanced, high scoring football team. When I couldn’t beat the benchmark score in a puzzle right away, it fueled my inner nerd to keep trying the problem till I was on top of the leaderboard”.

Chandini and Shub passionately believe that the future of investment success is playful and community driven. We are delighted to lead their seed round, to support them on their journey and to welcome Chandini, Shub and the Auquan community to the Episode 1 portfolio.


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