Off to Frankfurt Book Fair – Bigger, Bolder and Faster! October 9th, 2017, by Tahir Mansoori
Last year, Sadia and I gave an early preview of wizdom.ai to publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair. While the colwiz team has been quiet for a while, there has been a lot going on under the hood since our acquisition by the Taylor & Francis Group on May 30, 2017. This year, we are back again with a difference – we are bigger, bolder and faster. During the last 4 months, we have increased our team size by 30%, growing faster than ever to bring our game-changing research intelligence service, wizdom.ai to the world. Bryan, Matt, Sadia and I will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week to talk about wizdom.ai.
As a founder of colwiz, with 100+ days behind us since our acquisition, it is also a time for me to reflect on our incredible journey from a small startup to now being part of the FTSE 100 company.
When I had co-founded the company from my dorm room during my PhD in Computational Biology at the University of Oxford, Rifaqat, my co-founder, and I had set out to accelerate the pace of global research with a very small, highly passionate and talented research and engineering team. Fast forward the journey of taking the startup from initial idea to raising investment and to launching colwiz research management software, we then set out in pursuit of an ambitious goal – to build the world’s most comprehensive research intelligence platform powered by AI, machine learning and big data analytics. During the past 2 years, we interconnected billions of data points to provide critical research intelligence for decision making to publishers, institutions, businesses, funders and governments. We showed a preview of its powerful capabilities to numerous reputed publishers at the ALPSP in Sep 2016, Frankfurt book fair in Oct 2016 and London Info International in Dec 2016. The feedback was highly enthusiastic and encouraging, and there was no doubt in our minds that it is going to be a much needed service with a real-world chance at accelerating global research.
All along since 2014, we had been working closely with Taylor & Francis, who shared our mission of accelerating research at a global scale. Our ambitious target of making the world’s most comprehensive research graph required significant resources beyond our capacity. It was natural that we joined forces – Taylor & Francis Group empowered us with resources and talent, and now we are marching on stronger, as an independent business unit within Taylor & Francis.
This acquisition also enabled me to move to where my heart has been and where I am needed the most – while I had been the CEO of the company since its founding, I have been on the constant search for an ideal candidate for me to focus full time on developing groundbreaking technologies. I have known Bryan Vickery since 2014, while he was Director of Cogent OA and I am very pleased to have him join our team as Managing Director. Bryan previously founded and led the open access publishing arm at Taylor & Francis, and brings in immense experience to our team from his entrepreneurial background and time spent with leading players in the academic publishing industry.
Prior to acquisition, Sadia, Head of Strategy, and I wore multiple hats, taking responsibility for diverse areas including marketing, legal, investment, sales and outreach. Now all of these areas are developed into full time roles. In the UK office, we have grown from 2 employees to 7 in the span of four months, with ongoing further recruitment. Our dedicated commercial team is based in the UK and is being led by Matthew Hayes as Commercial Director, who brings a honed business acumen from his time in the publishing arena, and more recently from an innovative education technology startup.
This progress has allowed me to get back to where the biggest challenges lie – technology, engineering, R&D, and product development. I have now assumed the role of Director of R&D, a new title that allows me to focus full time on leading our research and engineering teams, something that I had been doing since founding the company, but now full time.
As was before acquisition, our technology and development hub is based in Karachi, Pakistan where the magic happens. I have just come back to the UK after spending three exciting weeks with our highly talented and skilful team there, exploring innovative ways to make the insights presented by wizdom.ai, even more powerful, comprehensive and real-time. To me, this is most critical in delivering the world’s most comprehensive research knowledge graph with cutting edge technology using big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence. We are now swiftly growing our technological team with plans for 10 new hires by the year end to add to our current team of 23 virtuosos.
Both our teams in UK and Pakistan are diligently geared towards launching wizdom.ai in 2018 and the past three months have been focused on turning wizdom.ai into a user focused, refined service that provides a seamless experience on site. We are now confident that wizdom.ai is ready for a test drive.
colwiz’ UK and Pakistan teams catching up in Karachi
At the Frankfurt book fair this week, Matt Hayes (Commercial Director) and Sadia Shahid (now Head of Business Development) will be giving out free trial access to wizdom.ai and gathering feedback to help improve wizdom.ai. Please feel free to reach out to them, or sign up for early access on our website and learn more about wizdom.ai and how it can help to address your challenges around research insights.
Bryan and I will also be at the Frankfurt Book Fair on Wednesday, 11th October and we will be looking forward to meet with you, answer any questions you might have related to the acquisition or our future plans.
We have got plenty more exciting news to follow up in the coming weeks! Watch this space for updates from me and the team.
Founder, Director R&D