Tag: 9W Search

Biovideo and 9W Search Selected as Finalists in IBM’s Watson Mobile Developer Challenge

Founder of Silicon Hills News

Watson display at the Computer History Museum, photo by Laura Lorek

Watson display at the Computer History Museum, photo by Laura Lorek

IBM wants to make us all smarter through our smart phones by tapping into its Watson super computer database.

To do that, IBM issued a challenge back in February to app developers worldwide encouraging them to submit apps for its IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge. The apps needed to use “Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities to analyze, discover insights and learn from Big Data.” IBM developed Watson as a cognitive technology that processes information more like a human and understands natural language.

Some might consider IBM’s mobile Watson, the sage grandfather of Siri, Apple’s personal assistant available on its iPhones.

Last week, the IBM Watson team announced it has picked 25 finalists in its competition including San Antonio-based Biovideo and Austin-based 9WSearch.

Several hundred companies submitted apps in the IBM Watson Mobile Developer Challenge. The apps that made the cut span several categories including finance, healthcare services, news, business, fashion, education, cities and nutrition.

In the finance category, 9W Search, founded by Susan Strausberg, one of the founders of Edgar Online, submitted its app, which mines financial information online combined with Watson’s cognitive capabilities to answer complex financial questions. Its first application is in the energy industry.

IMG_2570“The ability to incorporate vast amounts of structured and unstructured primary source materials into the 9W/Watson cloud lets users ask and answer billions of complex questions through a simple, familiar interface,” according to 9W Search’s submission.
Biovideo, founded by Carlos Villasenor, made the finalists in the Health Services category. The company submitted an app that provides “the best help for new and expectant mothers at their fingertips.”

Biovideo, which operates out of San Antonio’s Geekdom, works with hospitals in Texas and Mexico to create a movie capturing the birth of a child for free for parents.

“The Biovideo App incorporates the Baby 101 searchable database for the first time and becomes the ultimate parenting tool,” according to the company. “It also eliminates geographic limitation, as the app and the Baby 101 program are available to anyone, anywhere. Providing the power of Watson to the Baby 101 program provides unlimited information, insight and reach to new parents.”

The finalists must submit prototypes to IBM, which will select five teams to present their proposals. And then IBM will choose three winners. “The three winners are awarded 90 days of access to the Watson APIs and consulting from IBM Interactive design services.”

9W Search creates a financial search site for mobile users

Susan Strausberg, CEO and co-founder of 9W Search in Austin

Susan Strausberg knows how to dig into financial information and make it accessible to the masses.
She founded Edgar Online in 1995, grew the company to 200 employees, took it public in 1999 and then left in 2007 to pursue other passions.
Two years ago, Strausberg and her husband, Marc, moved from New York to Austin and created a startup called 9W Search, a sophisticated financial search engine primarily for mobile users.
“We’re enabling a huge underserved market to access financial information in the easiest possible way,” Strausberg said during a recent interview and meeting at Lola Savannah coffeehouse in Austin. 9W provides key company information, five years of financial data, people information for each company, a live stock quote as well as footnotes to financial statements.
To illustrate the ease of use, Strausberg showed off 9W Search’s capabilities on her iPad. She compared the financial results of three companies: Rackspace, Dell and IBM. 9W Search’s database contains information on approximately 12,000 US public companies. The tool gave real-time financial results in an easy to understand format. It culled and compiled data like revenue per employee, market capitalization, share price, earnings and more.
What differentiates 9W Search from other financial search engines is its ability to pull select metrics that Strausberg has deemed extremely valuable from vast and incomprehensible amounts of online data. She has selected the metrics based on her years of experience in working with financial data.
9W Search has the ability to sort through all the data because of a new data standard, extensible Business Reporting Language, known as XBRL. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has mandated that companies provide financial statement information in this format which vastly improves the transparency of reported data. Strausberg’s former company, EDGAR Online, played a key role in making the data interactive by creating “sets of definitions, or taxonomies, to enable the automatic extraction and exchange of data. Interactive data taxonomies can be applied — much like bar codes are applied to merchandise — to allow computers to recognize that data and feed it into analytical tools,” according to the SEC.
“Most financial information companies have hand-keyed their data.,” Strausberg said. “This new technology changes the way we can take data and turn it into actionable information.”
That’s the sweet spot for 9W Search.
“9W Search identifies a manageable set of key financial items from the thousands of different data points that are important in accessing a company’s financial picture,” Strausberg said. “We democratize access to financial information and make it usable for the average person.”
Who wants access to this information?
“People who need to see a picture of the market at given moment in time, ” Strausberg said.
Sales people, potential employees researching a company, students, companies, analysts, private
wealth managers, individuals, nonprofit organizations, real estate agents, anyone who needs to
do financial research, she said.
“Data equals information, equals knowledge, equals power,” Strausberg said. “If anything, there is too much data, she said. “It’s difficult to do competitive analysis and complete research easily with most financial search sites. 9W Search culls the gems from the ocean of data and arms our users with actionable information.”
And what exactly does 9W Search mean? It’s an old Vaudeville joke, Strausberg said.
Here’s a version:
“9W is the answer to a question.What is the question?”
Q: “Herr Wagner, does your name begin with a V?”
A: “Nein, W!”
9W Search has four employees currently and is seeking $600,000 in funding to further develop and market its product, Strausberg said. The company has a pilot test of the search engine available on its website. 9W Search plans to first provide a free version and subsequently charge for later releases.

Made In Austin career fair matches technology start-ups with students

Local tech start-ups want to keep as much homegrown talent in town as possible.
So they created Made In Austin, a job fair that matches area students with start-ups looking for technology talent.
The first event, featuring 100 tech companies and more than 500 registered students, took place Tuesday night at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center downtown.
The 3-hour job fair, which started at 6 p.m., drew a big crowd of students, some guys dressed in suits and ties, others wearing hoodies, jeans and polo shirts and some women in sweater dresses and knee-high boots.
The event organizers banned swag like free T-shirts, stickers and other giveaways. The crowd munched on pizza bagels and brownies and drank ice tea.
Jacqueline Hughes, founder of Austin Start-up Week, organized the event along with Joshua Baer, head of the Capital Factory and OtherInbox. Other organizers included Campus2Careers and other start-up companies. Large companies like American Express, Dell and Rackspace sponsored the tech meet-up.
At the OtherInBox table, Baer, CEO, had already collected several resumes and talked with lots of people. Baer has hired from local universities to fill openings at his start-up in the past. In fact, OtherInBox’s lead product developer started out as an intern when he was a student at St. Edward’s University.
“It’s worked really well for us,” Baer said. “ I love hiring really great experienced people. I also like hiring inexperienced passionate people who I can teach.”
Luke Carriere, who just founded Approachab.ly a few weeks ago at 3 Day Start-up Weekend San Antonio, had a place at a table recruiting Android and iPhone developers, Bluetooth and Near Field Communication specialists. He was also looking for marketers and sales staff.
“I’m looking for business majors who might be able to help me with market research,” Carriere said.
Events like Made In Austin help Carriere network and make connections that eventually help to further his business, he said. At a mobile conference a few weeks ago, he met a guy who has joined him to become technical co-founder of his start-up.
“What’s been amazing is meeting people who want to help you by opening up their rolodexes,” he said.
The event provided an opportunity to recruit young talent, said Ramin Jahedi, CEO and founder of CaniSolutions, restaurant consultants. He runs the start-up FindWaiters.com.
“Our market is just exploding,” Jahedi said. Early on during the evening, he had already collected a few resumes and talked with several people.
Patrick Mizer at SpareFoot also talked to a lot of students and planned to follow up with a few of them following the fair.
“We are looking to hire some young engineering talent,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success hiring engineers in their last year of college.”
Kevin Chu, a junior majoring in management information systems at the University of Texas, attended the fair to find a Spring internship.
“Start-ups give you the opportunity to learn more,” he said. “They’re small so you can do a variety of jobs.”
Linda Ye, a junior majoring in management information systems, was also looking for a Spring internship with a start-up. She already has a summer internship set up with a large company.
“Austin is a start-up city,” Ye said. “Start-ups tend to be more flexible with hours. They are also able to teach you a lot. Start-ups fit me the best right now.”

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