#SpamFiltering: Zero Tolerance for False Positives.

In 2014, Google one of the pioneers in machine learning, still hasn't gotten it right. The FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT rule of spam filtering, at least for email, should be this: "Have ZERO tolerance for false positives"

As a user if I have even a slight inclination that an important email can be marked as spam, I will always check my spam folder, defeating the purpose of spam filtering in the first place. As it exists now, Gmail, in spite of a user marking an address as a contact, may still send emails to spam based on behavior. 

Why Online E-Commerce Needs More Players Competing With Amazon?

I have been an Amazon Prime user for more than five years now. When I started using Amazon; I used to check prices at multiple websites and Google before purchasing. Not anymore.

Amazon has essentially changed my shopping habits to such an extent that whenever I need anything, I just (1) search for the item on Amazon, (2) filter by Prime and sort by ratings, and (3)— voila!—item purchased. It’s extraordinarily convenient.

In spite of the convenience factor, however, Amazon has started implementing some annoying idiosyncrasies.

Techstars: A new kind of school

Techstars and YCombinator are two of the most recognized new schools* for budding entrepreneurs. Although both organizations started with a similar end goal, both have evolved from their early days and are taking drastically different approaches in influencing entrepreneurs and startups.  

Both companies initially started as vertically integrated organizations. YCombinator still is.  They control their mentorship program from start to finish.  The people who manage the program are also the mentors.  They only offer their program in one physical location.

TechStars, on the other hand, has drifted far from vertical integration. They’ve expanded into new geographical areas and partnered with different companies and mentors.

Lightbank: Making Chicago the Place for Startups and Entrepreneurs (Part I)

Chicago and the Midwest are ripe with opportunities for entrepreneurs, and Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, Co-founders and Managing Partners of the Venture Capital firm, Lightbank, had a lot to do with that. You may know them as the men behind Groupon, but with more than 50 companies in their portfolio and a passion for building businesses and not just funding them, the duo is responsible for making Chicago a go-to destination for today’s innovators.

I am the co-founder of BenchPrep, which was one of the first three companies to receive funding from Lightbank. To date, BenchPrep has raised over $8 million. Having been with Lightbank since the beginning, I have seen how the firm has grown and the incredible impact Lightbank has made on the city and the companies it supports.

How Twitter can Disrupt Consumption of Media

Despite all the hype and notoriety, the interesting thing about Twitter is that “normal” people still haven't joined. By “normal” I mean those of us who are not internet junkies, super tech savvy, a celebrity, or obsessed with celebrities, etc. When these normal folks join, and they will, the only way to keep them coming back to Twitter will be if Twitter can provide something sticky. One way to accomplish this is to turn Twitter trends into a customized user-based news feed.

The Problem with the Scientific Publishing Process

The current system of scientific publication is inefficient and unbalanced. Skewed heavily towards the advantage of the publishing companies, it is a process that favors profit over product and greatly limits the researchers who provide the content.

The current system of scientific publication is inefficient and unbalanced. Skewed heavily towards the advantage of the publishing companies, it is a process that favors profit over product and greatly limits the researchers who provide the content.

Once research groups have completed their study and prepared their document for publication— an arduous and sometimes multi-year process in and of itself—they submit it to a potential publisher for review. The research document is then reviewed by “qualified reviewers.” The criteria by which the reviewers are deemed “qualified” is controlled solely by the publisher, and communication between the two entities—the researchers and the reviewers—is almost entirely unidirectional. The reviewers communicate to the researchers, while the researchers have little to no opportunity to reach out to them.

Don’t Let Your Major Box You In

At some point during our college lives, we all check off a box indicating our major. For many people, this is when they begin to box in their futures as well.

I’m here today to tell you that this box is meant to be broken.

In total, 12 long years of my life were dedicated to obtaining my PhD in chemistry, and I loved every second of it. I published over 15 pieces in international journals, and I won a couple of outstanding research achievement awards. However, like many people, I realized that my future opportunities and interests weren’t aligned with what I thought they would be when I selected my major — and that’s okay. In my field of research, nanotechnology, it takes about 20 years before any work reaches end users. I’m a little too impatient for that. I wanted to do something where I could see the value — and impact — more quickly.

Additionally, I always found myself attracted to the analytical thinking and problem-solving aspects of chemistry, but not necessarily the content. So while I might not be combining ammonium hydroxide and nitric acid on a daily basis, I use my problem-solving skills every day. In other words, my education did not go to waste.

Team Building is Not an Extracurricular Activity: How to Make Company Culture a Priority from Day One

Culture is a very real and meaningful part of a company that determines how team members feel about the business, the product, and one another. But building a strong company culture is also an opportunity to motivate the team by making everyone feel like they’re working toward a common goal.

At my company, culture has made all the difference in our product and our business — especially when we grew from 12 employees to 30 in just a matter of months. From the hiring practices to the onboarding process to daily interactions with seasoned employees, small changes to your company’s culture can make a huge difference in employees’ attitude and work.