Grakn Labs on the Road

Tales from a Travelling Knowledge Engineer

My past 3 weeks in boarding cards.

The last couple of weeks have been exciting for us at Grakn Labs. We have had the pleasure of travelling in Europe and North America to exhibit our technology. In this article, I will recount the last few weeks and share our experiences.

Dublin — 14–17 February

The first stop was Dublin Tech Summit. DTS is a two day conference bringing together more than 10,000 attendees including more than 100 startups, industry partners and excellent speakers. The event provides early stage startups with a great opportunity to network, get feedback, and grow their business.

A robot with a penchant for millinery at DTS.

Upon entering, we were greeted by a sarcastic robot who spent most of his time commenting on people’s hats. I never knew AI would be so hat-focused. After having our headgear complimented or insulted, we immediately went to our booth. Throughout the event, the response was amazing. Many visitors were interested in our technology and we happily showcased some examples.

Grakn Labs in Dublin (image courtesy of Victoria Sedgwick).

This event was different from our previous excursions as it was the first time we stepped away from AI conferences and into a broader domain. Regardless, we still got a lot of attention and had fun learning about other startups who are busy with some great projects. We also had a chance to connect with others within the Europen tech ecosystem, from accelerators to investors.

San Francisco & Silicon Valley — 18–24 February

The next stop was Startup Grind in Redwood City. Similarly, this was another two day conference giving startups around the world an opportunity to exhibit their technology. Not only were we one of those startups, we have been voted to be in the top 50! This gave us access to an extra day before the conference really kicked off.

On this pre-conference day our CEO, Haikal Pribadi was given the opportunity to participate in a pitch bootcamp: an event specifically tailored towards teaching startups how to present their company in the best way possible. When presenting a deep technology such as ours, it is very important to connect with your audience regardless if they are your target. This event gave us more personal time with our fellow startups and the industry partners, who were very helpful and interested in the work we were presenting.

The first official day of the conference gave us the opportunity to exhibit. Once again, the response was very positive whenever we showcased an example of Grakn in use. The only difference being that there was a greater variance in the audience. While DTS was more technical, Startup Grind was more diverse with attendees having technical, marketing, sales, and other backgrounds.

During this first day we were invited to pitch at Startup Court an event reserved for 25 startups to pitch in an actual courtroom. Our CEO, I mean lawyer, was once again presenting our work, but this time under the scrutiny of a jury of industry partners and experts. Glad it was him and not me.

Startups standing trial.

We did not exhibit on day 2 which gave us an opportunity to simply attend and enjoy the conference. There is a lot to do at Startup Grind ranging from attending industry partner talks, founder talks, and some great keynotes throughout the day. These all ran in parallel meaning that there was always something for everyone.

Grakn Labs at Startup Grind.

We finished up our tour of San Francisco by giving a talk at ThoughtWorks, where they have previously dived into the world graph databases. This was a fun one for me personally because one of their developers has had a hard time working with OWL and RDF, but before I go on a rant about that again, I will just say thanks ThoughtWorks for making time for us. With this final talk, we concluded San Francisco.

New York — 25 February — 4 March

We began our New York tour by giving a talk at IBM in York Town, which some might call the home of IBM Watson. Thanks to Susan Malaika for organising the talk. It was a great opportunity for us to present our work to a highly technical audience with substantial experience in AI systems. We got some excellent feedback and look forward to working with some of the more interested attendees.

Haikal presenting at IBM (image courtesy of Susan Malaika).

The final stop was the Janus Graph meetup in New York.

As some of you may know, we are in partnership with IBM and Google to continue growing the graph database community. This was the first time some of the people involved in this project met in the same room. We had a great presentation from Jason Plurad who talked about Apache Tinkerpop which powers much of Grakn. Our CEO, former lawyer, presented Grakn once more.

Santosh Borse talked about how IBM is using graph technologies.

Misha Brukman gave a talk on BigTable and those of you following JanusGraph will be interested to know that BigTable will be joining a a supported backend.

Raymond Canzanese Jr, described how their startup is using graph technology in the world of security monitoring and notifications.

Finally, Denise Gosnell talked about her experiences with Graph Technologies, and made us all feel bad because she focused on the current problems with the technology. We are all critical engineers at the end of the day and nothing is every perfect. It was a fun meetup with a great audience: if you missed it, there’s a writeup and the slides available over on the IBM OpenTech blog. And, if you’re in the London area, why not drop by for the next meetup on 13th March in Shoreditch.

The Grakn stack presented at the first JanusGraph meet up (image by Daniel Krook)


This concluded our Grakn road trip. We got a lot of feedback, made some new friends, and got some inspiration for more experiments to be done with Grakn. Looking forward to the next one — why not come and join us?!


Creators of TypeDB and TypeQL

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