Ashok Goel’s AI Research Team Pivots to Pilot

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One critical moment in the life of any startup is the decision to pivot – to change its business strategy in response to what’s learned from potential customers and partners. It’s a challenging but essential part of the evidence-based entrepreneurshipmethodology. And Professor Ashok Goel’s team seems to have pulled it off with aplomb.

Goel, who is at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing, is the principal investigator on a team which also includes master’s student Sasha Azad, undergrad Evangelia Spiliopoulou, and VentureLab mentor Harold Solomon. They joined the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program to find a market for their sophisticated Artificial Intelligence technology that can search for meaning, not just keywords, in large bodies of text.

The team expected to find a home for its technology among researchers who apply biological principles to develop engineering solutions in a variety of fields. However, after conducting dozens of interviews during I-Corps, the team determined it would be impractical to build a scalable business in that market. 

Recovering from the setback, the team rethought its approach. The four identified a potential market where their technology could provide an important competitive advantage: the financial industry, where extracting function or meaning from large volumes of text, news, social feeds or blogs could generate ideas of interest for investing. After many interviews with technology leaders in major financial firms, the team refined its idea, and landed an opportunity for a pilot project at a major investment bank.

Goel has reached out to his long-standing colleagues, Spencer Rugaber and Keith McGreggor, to join this team as it analyzes this new market and builds a prototype product.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Tyler Sharp
  • Created:12/11/2015
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016


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