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50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2017

Transforming Information into Knowledge: Yewno

thesiliconreview-ruggero-gramatica-founder-ceo-yewno-2017Yewno helps people research and understand the world. The company builds knowledge discovery software and services, leveraging machine learning, computational linguistics, and a vast reservoir of information from the most respected content providers in the world.

Yewno was born in 2014 and the idea came out of a research activity in the space of Applied Mathematics. Having successfully carried out his first proof of concept working with the financial community, founder Ruggero Gramatica wanted to carry out a second proof of concept, again within a complex systems discipline. He found the perfect opportunity in Switzerland in a Biotech company that was looking to repurpose existing drug molecules to cure rare diseases. It was here that he met Professor Michael Keller, Stanford University’s Vice Provost and University Librarian. Professor Keller invited Ruggero to leverage the work he was doing in Applied Mathematics combined with artificial intelligence models to build an interdisciplinary inference engine, which became Yewno’s first product: Yewno Discover. Today, the Yewno Discover platform transforms the research experience into creative, organic discovery that makes researchers, scholars, students and teachers more efficient and invites them to be more curious and explore more deeply.

Headquartered in Redwood City, California, and with offices in New York and London, Yewno’s product is used at leading universities and libraries around the world, including Stanford University, Cambridge University, and the Bavarian State Library. Its product portfolio continues to expand with Yewno Unearth, which supports the needs of publishers and content curators. The company has products tailored for the Finance and Life Sciences markets, as well.

Let’s Start the Ball Rolling with Ruggero Gramatica, Founder and CEO

What guided you in setting this company up?

I was lucky to be actively involved in various capacities from being an engineer to being a co-founder in other startups before this, and I constantly try to analyze the successful moments as well as the mistakes made and the remedies we implemented. Very few startups are 100% alike, but there are a few patterns that I tend to follow. These are to start, maintain and grow a team that shares your vision; take some risks and do not linger on the initial plan; and to be constantly on the lookout for opportunities and embrace experimentation.

How successful was your first project launch?

Even before we had launched Yewno Discover ‘officially’ we started getting enquiries from Universities in the US and UK, and within a year of launch we have customers in 6 countries around the world and customers trialing in 4 more. The product has taken off in a global sense much faster than we originally predicted, and largely by word of mouth and referral.

Can you talk about your customers’ feedback and interactions?

We have collaborated heavily with customers at all stages in our product development process and these strong relationships have helped us deliver products that really resonate with all of our target markets. We anticipate our customer’ needs and we deliver consistently to meet their expectations. It’s really important for customers to feel confident that they are working with an organization that they can rely on.

What led to the expansion of the company?

Yewno is built upon cognitive learning technology which mimics how the human brain works. It can ingest incredibly large amounts of data, conceptualize ideas, relate concepts and draw inferences. This technology has applications across a variety of verticals. We’ve seen success in Publishing and Education, and recently we have launched our products supporting financial services.

What is the key factor that paved the way for shaping Yewno’s road map?

The first four customer deals we signed were all multi-year contracts. It’s very unusual for a start up with a new technology to sign up such long-term customer commitments, and that has helped give us the confidence to invest heavily in R&D to ensure that we maintain our first mover advantage.

What are the future prospects of Yewno?

We see our vision being shared with the majority of thought leaders, and being recognized as the leading innovator and player within the Knowledge Economy. We are currently expanding into the financial services industry and will do so with a robust set of offerings for a variety of client-types including Hedge Funds, Quantitative Groups, Asset Managers, Fund Providers and Registered Investment Advisors. We are also working on a new vertical focused on the analysis of public but fragmented and dispersed government data, as well as a general intelligence knowledge discovery platform.

The Founding Team

Ruggero Gramatica, Founder and CEO: Ruggero has over 20 years of experience in startups and company turnaround. Bringing strategic leadership as well as technological and operational expertise to bear, he has contributed to the growth and expansion of 5 start-ups both in the United States and across Europe and has operated successfully in both blue chip and early stage environments. Ruggero holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics from King’s College London, an MBA from University of Chicago, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from University Politecnico of Milan.

Ruth Pickering, Co-Founder and Chief Business Development and Strategy Officer: Ruth has worked for both blue-chip corporations and startups and has extensive experience across product development, program management and strategy. With experience as a managing director of large organizations, Pickering has managed both strategic planning and execution of multiple billion dollar product lines. Ruth’s experience spans from media technology and telecommunications to AI, where prior to Yewno, she served as managing director of BT Wholesale; was one of the Global Telecoms Business Top 40 under 40 in 2010, and was shortlisted for ‘Woman of the Year in Technology’ in 2011.


“Using machine-learning and computational linguistics, Yewno’s unique technology analyzes high-quality content to extract concepts, and discern patterns and relationships, to make large volumes of information more effectively understood.”