Biotech Company Leverages Flexible Data Science Resources

Enko Chem Leverages Flexible Data Science - Propheto Case Study

Published: January 29, 2021


The Client

Enko discovers and develops novel products for farmers to protect their crops from pests and disease. Its proprietary technology platform represents a revolutionary approach to rapidly discover safe and economical solutions that are needed to ensure sustainable food production.

The Problem

Tim was an experienced manager and data scientist at Enko. He had been with the company for some time before they raised a large round of funding and began to scale quickly. Because Enko was a company founded and run by scientists, the executive team was keen to use data and analytics as much as possible. So as company development and headcount ramped up, Tim’s team quickly got swamped. Before long they had a pile of projects sitting in their backlog they didn’t have the time to get to.

"Our biggest challenge was personnel. We didn’t have a full-time role available and had more work to do than the time to do it."

Tim thought about hiring extra full-time headcount but realized that it could take three to six months to find a strong hire in a highly competitive data science hiring market. Good quality talent was just hard to come by.

"What we were looking for in talent was also hard. We weren’t at the scale where we could have a resource who would be handheld. We needed someone who could be independent and functional."

There are plenty of consulting firms and staffing agencies that Tim could have turned to for help. However, from his prior experience, working with these firms yielded mixed results at best.

"Consulting and staffing firms can just be really hard to deal with. Sometimes you end up with people who are just too junior…. Or on the flip side, you might have someone that wants to bring in a huge team of people and a product manager for a six-month engagement to make ‘an app’ even when you don’t want ‘an app’."

Tim needed a flexible and high-quality data scientist to help him attack some of the high-value projects in his team’s backlog. One project in particular would increase efficiency in the company’s drug development cycle by providing intuitive visualizations and reports across the organization. Specifically, Enko needed tools to provide more visibility around potential compounds that could lead to commercialization and trials.

The Solution

Propheto was the platform that Tim needed to meet his capacity constraints. He wasn’t prepared to hire someone full-time and was unwilling to pay the high prices for over-engineered solutions offered by consultants. Propheto offered a supply of high-quality Ph.D. data scientists that could ramp up quickly and at a price that met his budget.

Propheto stood out to Tim as a way to affordably address his backlog problem without compromising on quality. As Tim described:

"Propheto’s offering resonated with our team because of the idea of tapping into grad student talent. I went to grad school and therefore knew what was possible [from students]. Also, the price was great. The professional consultants I previously worked with run in the $200-$300 per hour range. Propheto was offering significantly lower for still high-quality talent."

Tim recognized the capability of computational academics since he himself had earned a Ph.D. Compared to consultancies, Propheto’s platform offered significantly lower rates for comparable quality.

Tim specified what he needed from a short-term data scientist and within a week Propheto provided three top-tier candidates. He was impressed by all three candidates noting that any of the three would have been great fits. Ultimately, he chose to work with Max, a Physics Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.

The Result

With clearly defined goals and a strong Propheto consultant, Tim’s team completed the project smoothly and effectively.

"Max and our team worked really well together. We knew how to work with one another. We thought hard about that first project and we are happy with how it turned out...if it weren’t for Max focusing on grad school, we’d definitely have hired him."

At the end of three and a half months, Tim’s team had the analytics tool they needed while saving a bundle of money and avoiding a staffing nightmare.

"People are using our analytics, and are happy with it….we were able to do this in a scalable and sustainable way while getting our team actionable insights quickly. We were also able to navigate our staffing challenge and we learned about how we can improve our internal onboarding and ramping processes."