Spotlight on: Diffeo, StartHub's Startup to Watch

March 19, 2019

Each month as part of StartHub's Startups to Watch Program, we connect with the winning company to learn more about them. We had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Briggs, Co-founder and COO of Diffeo. Here’s what we learned:

Tell us about your company. What is Diffeo?

At Diffeo, we’re developing AI-powered research assistants that connect to the tools you use every day (your browser, Microsoft Word, your email) and help you uncover relationships across disparate data. Every line you read and write teaches Diffeo what matters to you. In the background, Diffeo uses your context to dynamically build a personalized knowledge graph of relevant people, organizations, places, and events.

As you work, Diffeo actively explores the web, your email, shared drives, and enterprise data portals using automatically formulated queries in 18+ languages. Diffeo discovers thousands of insights and entity connections, and presents the best right alongside your work. Diffeo is always learning from you so every word you type, every recommendation you dismiss, and every source you cite train Diffeo’s algorithms to give you better recommendations.

Diffeo grew out of research in DARPA Memex and is augmenting decision makers in analyst teams and some of the most critical government institutions around the world.

Jason Briggs of Diffeo

How did you come up with the idea for Diffeo? Who is your target customer?

The initial inspiration behind Diffeo was the question "How can we help Wikipedians write Wikipedia faster?"

Any user who spends time exploring internal and external data looking for connections will benefit from collaborating with Diffeo. Many of our current users are analysts who need to make decisions in fast-paced environments. Instead of getting lost in the Internet or missing critical facts, analysts can invite Diffeo into their work and collaborate with the agent to find related concepts and people that change the analyst’s understanding.

User's notes in Microsoft OneNote (center). Diffeo's Windows application (right) is connected to the user's document, and is recommending insights and related entities that will fill in the user's knowledge gaps. On the left, the user is researching in the browser. The Diffeo browser extension is automatically highlighting important entities in the page so the user can quickly understand the full story around their topic.)

How do you think Diffeo is going to disrupt the market? What are the main differentiators between you and your competitors?

No additional work from the user is required to benefit from Diffeo's recommendations and insights. You don’t have to download any additional tools, set up any complex configurations, upload/import any additional data, or leave their existing workflow to go to another portal. There is zero friction to accelerating research with Diffeo.

Why did you decide to start your business in Boston? How long has your company been around?

Three of our co-founders met as Herz Fellows at MIT, where they first had the idea for Diffeo. Diffeo was founded in 2012, and we’ve been based in Cambridge ever since! The Boston/Cambridge area is very conducive to startups and innovation - there is great access to talent, capital, and other resources.

Diffeo team

What resources in the startup community have contributed to the success of Diffeo?

We’re based at the CIC, and we’ve enjoyed working there immensely. Not only has it exposed us to events and other players on the startup scene, but also takes care of the basics for us (like utilities, furniture, printers, and snacks!) so we can focus full-time on growing our company.

We’ve also participated in several incubator programs (The Salesforce Incubator, FinTech Sandbox, FinTech Innovation Lab, and currently the MassChallenge inaugural FinTech cohort) that have benefited us tremendously. Through these programs, we’ve gained amazing connections, access to data, use cases, validation of our concept in enterprise settings, and more.

What is the most important thing our readers should know about Diffeo?

Diffeo is a self-driving search engine that offloads all the annoying search tasks we hate to AI. Our users universally describe collaborating with Diffeo as their first real experience with AI. We’re excited to get Diffeo into your hands as soon as possible! Check us out!

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