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The AI startup managed to secure funding from Neulogy Ventures and Wayra CEE in 2015. Co-founder Martin Linkov explains how they accomplished this and where the company will be in 7 years time.

Describe in 50 words or less.’s mission is to make computers understand text like people do. We’re building a “cognition cloud” with a Knowledge Graph representation of the world at the center. Algorithms for text analysis and understanding explore the graph to decide if a text is about Paris the city or the model.

Why did you decide to pursue your own dreams rather than someone else’s?

We’re serial entrepreneurs and apart from a short period right after university we’ve been pursuing our dreams for the better part of our careers. We’re very grateful for this and consider ourselves lucky to be living in a society and time that promotes entrepreneurship and opportunities to build one’s dream. This, we believe creates an obligation to at least try and build one’s dream. For us, the consequences of a life with regret and doubt about an idea that never materialized far outweigh the struggles we go through as entrepreneurs.

Describe your typical working day from coming to the office to leaving it.

We start very early in the morning, 7am at the latest. This is the time for strategic planning.
At 8am we have a quick meeting to set priorities, report progress, see how we can help each other. Although each team member “owns” a part of the product some big tasks require everybody’s attention and input. We like these a lot as they really glue the team together. When working on individual tasks we share interesting findings or ask each other for advice all the time. We have 2 whiteboards and normally fill them several times throughout the day. We always have lunch together at 11am sharp. The working day at the office continues to until 6pm and quite often resumes at home where it easily stretches to 2-3am in the morning. As founders we have to balance many hats and we work on Sundays too – to catch up with paperwork and reporting and to prepare for the week ahead.

7 years from now: How did your startup change the world?

By then has created an ecosystem powering thousands of artificial intelligence applications and solutions that increase people’s productivity and allow them to make data-driven decisions and concentrate on analytical tasks. UniGraph is by far the largest knowledge graph in the world with a huge community of individual and corporate contributors. The UniGraph schema is the most accurate and widely adopted representation of the objects in the world and their relations.

Globally, societies have become very transparent. Government and public company data is easy to access and understand. Corruption is almost eradicated. Public spending and procurement is transparent and greatly optimized. Citizens are actively participating and providing data-driven suggestions on the local and national level.

Where do you stand in the debate for AI? Will AI ultimately destroy us?

Many people are concerned about how Artificial Intelligence will affect our lives. This is good. Humanity is now much better prepared to understand the impacts and responsibly use technologies that yield great power, including nuclear. Even though debate and research of how AI will fit into our lives, how it will affect the employment and the economy is already happening technology will always outpace regulations and legislation. It will catch us off guard, the question is how much. We are very optimistic that humanity will be able to put AI to good use and the benefits that AI will introduce to our lives will far outweigh the negative effects.

Already pivoted? Did customers use the context service like you imagined it in the beginning?

We haven’t pivoted. Clients are using the service exactly as imagined. They are requesting new capabilities but the core functionality haven’t changed.

We are however breaking the main product into independant services so that we can answer customers needs more precisely and more easily fit into existing implementations and workflows. The biggest, most complex and important independent service is UniGraph. Originally’s internal knowledge graph UniGraph is now a separate product that answers the increasing demand for an open, growing, multilingual knowledge repository.

Bootstrapped or financed: What fuels your startup now and what will in the future?

From the autumn of 2013 we used personal savings to build a prototype and show it to investors. In April ‘14 Wayra CEE recognized the potential of, invested €60,000 and provided us with invaluable support and connections. This helped us improve the technology and create an impressive sales pipeline. In June ‘15 one of the most active and fast growing funds in CEE – Neulogy Ventures invested €200,000. In October we became part of ODInE – The Open Data Incubator Europe and are utilizing a grant of €100,000, connections and advice from the likes of Sir Tim Berners Lee to scale UniGraph from an internal project to the world’s largest knowledge graph.

We already have paying clients and are working on a few deals that could get us very close to break even. We expect to close our next round of investment by the beginning of the summer of 2016.

In what ways do you measure your success and how do you make sure you don’t lose track?

We consider success every eliminated risk to the future growth and sustainability of the company. We set difficult, yet achievable goals towards eliminating these risks and measure every aspect of them, not just the final result. Hence a “success” that consumed time and effort well over the initial estimate is examined carefully to understand what went wrong and what can be improved in the approach or the estimation next time.

With ferocious competition and a booming trend to build new companies: How do you make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle?

Competition is great. It validates the need, proves the potential of the market and provides a benchmark to keep a company motivated and innovating. If there’s no competition the market is too niche, the solution solves a non existing problem or data and approach to market analysis is skewed.

We keep an eye on the competition but don’t get fixated over it. We are focused on creating the best solution to beat the competition with and building a great team to keep our edge.

What do you look for in team members?

Passion, attitude, sharing culture. New skills can be acquired quickly with the proper attitude. Missing passion can’t be faked and if you are not passionate about what you do – better do something else. We are looking for people that are not afraid to experiment or question authority and are ready to scrap a week or more of work and start over with even more passion once they know there is a better solution to the problem they’ve been working on.

Why would a talent join your team?

The leading reasons for the people that joined us so far were the important and challenging problems we are trying to solve and the great culture we’ve managed to build. For Igor, our very first hire, the tipping point was that we are using the Go programming language. Now we’re very happy that one of his best friends – Michal is also joining together with one more talented developer Jan.

What was your most memorable moment so far?

It’s not easy to single out one. In under 18 months we achieved a lot and received significant recognition. Each achievement contributed to the next and some moments coincided. Chronologically speaking: The Wayra Acceleration was first, followed by the Neulogy Ventures investment which happened at the same time as the nomination among the 12 top European startups by TechAllStars. Growing the team and subscribing the first paying client were important milestones. Then came and the ODInE recognition.

What advice would you give fellow founders for their startup?

  1. Be fast and furious; hire and fire quickly, use all resources available to build something great and succeed or fail and move to the next thing.
  2. Build a great team – even if the idea fails if the team is strong you can move together to the next thing and succeed this time.
  3. There are no shortcuts; at first a workaround might look like a good idea. With time however, workarounds will pile up and become very difficult to maintain. In the long run, the investment in building something robust will always beat the support cost of something fragile.


From left to right: Ján Tóth, Atanas Youroukov (seated), Martin Linkov (seated), Michal Jemala, Igor Mihalik.

From left to right: Ján Tóth, Atanas Youroukov, Martin Linkov, Michal Jemala, Igor Mihalik.


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