#OttawaInc: Gnowit

Feb 2, 2016

Date company founded: 2010

Current number of employees: 12

What they do: Provide strategic web intelligence.

As online content becomes shorter and more frequent, it’s hard to keep up. In the face of so much noise, most people get discouraged. How can business professionals who manage and monitor media ensure they don’t miss vital information?

That’s where Gnowit comes in. They aim to help organizations find useful content and interpret it properly to make informed decisions. No more sifting through irrelevant content or missing an important post again. Gnowit organizes content in a way that is universally recognized by filtering out the noise and focusing on solely significant information.

We spoke with Co-founder and CEO, Naeem Saloojee to chat about the company’s growth.

Say I don’t work in technology – explain to me what you do?

Most businesses understand the importance of tracking events that may impact them. This includes anything from negative press, to proposed regulatory changes, to announcements related to competitors. Unfortunately, the massive quantities of information published online have made discovering these events more difficult and time-consuming than ever.

At Gnowit, we apply artificial intelligence, machine learning, and a host of other technologies to the monitoring process. This allows organizations to discover insights without suffering from the loss of productivity. This is, unfortunately, inevitable with information overload.

What was the light bulb moment that sparked the idea?

We’ve had many lightbulb moments, all of which have come out of conversations with potential users.

Take our latest product – Gnowit’s Visualizations for Google Alerts. We started seeing complaints about Google Alerts on business and tech blogs a few years back. Simply put, Google Alerts sends mass amounts of notifications to users related to stories from their various news feeds. This service provides no organization or analysis. As a result, these notifications often go ignored and unnoticed. By asking the right questions, we were able to completely understand the problem. We reviewed all of the data we had collected through various conversations and had a collective ‘ah-ha’ moment.

What kind of problems do you help clients solve?

We’ve spoken to a lot of communications professionals who, for various reasons, continue to rely on Google Alerts for their news updates. One public relations practitioner revealed she sometimes receives hundreds, even thousands of versions of the same story in her inbox. With our software, she reported feeling more in control of the information she received. As a result, she felt more confident that she wasn’t missing anything crucial. With all of the solutions we develop, we want to instill these feelings into our users.

Co-founder and CEO, Naeem Saloojee

Co-founder and CEO, Naeem Saloojee

As you have been expanding and building over the years, what made you decide to remain in Ottawa?

The Ottawa startup community – and Invest Ottawa in particular – has been supportive of Gnowit from the very beginning. We received a huge boost from Invest Ottawa’s Entrepreneur in Residence program. Our early achievements were also recognized here – Invest Ottawa named our Chief Technical Officer and founder an “Ottawa Rising Star”. This kind of encouragement is essential for a fledgling company and builds loyalty.

Why do you think Ottawa is a great place to grow a business?

 Infrastructure and networking opportunities can be crucial to the success of a business. But a company can’t grow without the right talent. In addition to the strong relationships and encouragement Gnowit has received from Invest Ottawa, we’ve benefited immensely from having access to such a skilled and dedicated workforce. Currently, we have a total of 12 employees, many of whom have achieved high levels of academic success in fields related science and technology. The synergy between the city’s business and university sectors is just one more advantage small technology companies have in Ottawa.

Which Ottawa companies excite you?

There are many companies doing interesting things in Ottawa right now. In particular, Squanto and 360pi are using big data in really inspiring ways – to tackle occupational fraud and drive retail insights, respectively. We’ve been watching the development of mobile payment company ChangeJar, and we’re very excited by the work they’re doing. CanadaWheels recently won the Best Ottawa Business Award from the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, and no company is more deserving. Lastly, we recently had the pleasure of presenting at Product Hunt alongside Flyta, a startup focused on crowdsourced shipping. We look forward to seeing them excel.

Read more about Ottawa’s ecosystem here

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