BizSpark Featured Startup on Windows 8 and Azure - Cognitum Sp. Z o.o.

Imagine a language editor for your coding that is so powerful that it refuses to allow you to write a sentence that would disappoint your ninth grade English and grammar teacher.

Cognitum is an innovative and technical BizSpark member company based in Warsaw, Poland. Cognitum delivers high-end IT services in the area of Cloud Computing & Big Data solutions as well as Knowledge Management tools and Semantic Technologies. But what made them interesting to us was this "Fluent Editor 2" Windows App they have worked on. It helps coders edit ontologies in natural language.

They've done some more, including a semantic web server built with Azure. That link and the link to the OWL editor are below.

Ontorion is a distributed knowledge management system with controlled natural language (CNL) and built-in rules engine. It is compatible with the major standards of Semantic Web: OWL2 and SWRL. System can by hosted in “cloud’ Azure or on-premise environment. The main features of the system are: fully compatible with the standards of OWL2 and SWRL, built-in natural Language processing, automate reasoning, collaborative knowledge editing, scalability and safety, built-in ontology mapping mechanism and full text search.




Business Questions:

Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?

Scalability and revenue are very close connected. Our product is very innovative and mostly targeted for medium and big companies with large amount of data. That’s why we are mainly focused on long-term revenues. Of course, we know that scalability and revenue are very closed connected but in our business model the first one doesn’t have such a huge impact on revenue.

Where do you include technical members of your team during the building of your business plan?

From the very beginning technical members of our team have been the heart of our company, since we are technological. In addition my friend (co-founder of Cognitum) and I have strong engineering background. Along with company and our business development we have made distinction between technical aspects of our company and business processes. Especially right now we see how important is to build long-term and good relationships with our customers and the importance of high quality generation.

Technical part of the company often generates great ideas for product improvements and mostly importantly is responsible for high quality of pre-sales and post-sales customers support.

Culture Questions:

When did you decide that you were “startup material”?

My friend (co-founder of Cognitum) and I have always been very interested in science, computer software and innovative technology. We wanted to make it a big part of our professional life. After few years of working in international corporate environment we realized that we wanted to bring our experience to the next level and have much more influence on the technology and products. That was the moment when we decided to start our own company.

What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?

Our goal is to open more wildly, hopefully to any company, technologies for Semantic Web and Big Data. We believe these are the technologies of the near future in the IT industry that will bring IT value for business to the next level. 

What are some of the challenges you face as a founder or developer at a startup, when it comes to dealing with family life, or socially? Does working on a startup change the way you associate and interact in these areas?

Starting and managing a company entails huge responsibility and engages a lot. You have to be prepared to work much more than 8 hours per day, including weekends.  On the other hand, when you do what you love and what you believe in, than it’s not so tiring. Without a doubt, it’s really difficult to find more time for family or social life but running a business is mainly about building and maintaining relations.  It is important to engage great people to your team that will bring value to the company will drive the success of it.

What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur? What makes your startup a startup?

I believe that consequence and determination are the main factors that lead to success.  We constantly plan, think about strategy and new solution. We don’t focus only on the software but also think about the value we can deliver to our customers.

Obligatory questions that assist us in marketing

Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?

We are really proud having such a good relationship with Microsoft team.  We are the member of BizSpark Program and Azure Circle. Thanks to that we have access to all kind of interesting training sessions concerning not only the technical area but also business development. We can also use Microsoft experience in marketing and business development which helps us became more reliable for customers.

Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?

Thanks to Microsoft support small companies have access to the whole ecosystem full of very useful and high quality IT tools and platforms. The whole infrastructure allows immediate start of development process. What is more, Microsoft support startups in marketing activities by providing access to their knowledge and experience.  Microsoft gives great support for young and creative entrepreneurs.



How is Azure implemented in your solution?

Azure is a core platform for Ontorion cluster deployment  that allows the whole system to be quickly deployed and available from web and secondly offers  great possibility to scale the system along with growing need to process data and knowledge from customers. We are using Azure Virtual Machines and Web Roles.

How did you get excited about Azure?

In my opinion Azure can give great value for both startups and mature companies, because it enable extremely fast development  of web based advanced software in the same time transforming capital expenditures to operational costs.

In addition developers have  access to well-known, efficient,  professional development tools, knowledge and even business support form one of the biggest IT companies in the world. 

What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?

We use Azure cloud, ASP.NET and C# as programming language. Why? Because of the development speed, great toolsets available and maturity of those technologies. Additionally, with Microsoft BizSpark support we were able to immediately start from scratch the full development process within professional environment. Azure cloud allows us to deliver industrial-level quality IT services without big investments in the own infrastructure.

What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?

Companies that is thinking about building in the cloud should consider Cloud platform in a broader perspective, i.e. security, safety, reliability, SLA, capex vs. opex, maintenance costs and data-related issues like local legal regulations or personal data privacy.

Paweł Zarzycki - CEO of Cognitum