It was two hours before the news broke on Middle Eastern media outlet Al-Jazeera and subsequently picked up by the rest of the world.
That’s when he realized the artificial intelligence software could solve a global conundrum: filtering through the noise to find the information you need.
Founded in 2010, Gnowit has been in beta mode since October, testing its technology on 260 early subscribers. The company will launch its Core Alerts product in March, with an upgrade to follow shortly after.
The software is like Google Alerts on steroids, says vice-president of business development Mohammad Al Azzouni. It provides information from news sources and blogs on topics and regions the customer has chosen. Its patented technology can detect the sentiment of stories and strips out duplicate information.
“If someone is the CEO of a company, or a politician, they don’t want lots of things coming up on their phone,” says Mr. Khan. “They just want to know when something happens.”
The company is targeting large organizations with an interest in monitoring their online brand, or their competitors. Revenues will come from monthly user fees of between $250 to $500 for a basic subscription.
The sheer volume of information is really expanding. Finding what you want becomes almost like looking for a needle in a rapidly expanding haystack. Our technology knocks that haystack over, brings a metal detector and gets the stuff that you want. - Founder and CEO Shahzad Khan
Although there are other companies such as Factiva offering media curating capabilities, Gnowit sees them as strategic partners rather than competitors, with plans to seek them out to license its technology.
The company has had acquisition interest from firms in California and Massachusetts, but has no intention of leaving Ottawa, a city from where Mr. Khan feels he can run a global company.
“We started in Ottawa, but we have a solution to a problem that is worldwide,” he says.
Local head count: 8
Funding: $75,000 angel investment
Clients: Large organizations, NGOs, PR agencies, government, industry analysts.
Product: Artificial intelligence that monitors and analyzes Canadian media and other web sources to provide near-instantaneous alerts to users.