Acciyo’s Browser Plugin Helps You Understand the News

Founders Vivian Diep (MIT ’15) and Anum Hussain (MIT ’18) are on a mission to help news seekers save time and dig deeper through automatic article contextualization

Reading a news article today is like opening a book at chapter three: the characters have already developed and the narrative is in motion, but you suddenly get tossed into the thick of it, trying to piece together what happened prior to the article you just landed on.

As a result, many news readers express feeling overwhelmed and end up abandoning articles all together. Vivian Diep (MIT Media Lab ’15) and Anum Hussain (MIT Sloan ’18) spoke with a number of news aficionados, or who they call news “seekers,” and found that these eager readers spend upwards of 30 minutes trying to understand a single story. They get lost in an endless sea of new browser tabs. They search Google and see repeat headlines of the exact article they’re on; they search Wikipedia and get stuck in the trenches of history.

That’s where Acciyo comes in. Launching first as a Google Chrome Extension, Acciyo appears to the right of your screen like a bookmark sleeve. Acciyo uses NLP to populate an interactive, zoomable timeline of everything published on that subject, kind of like the previous chapters of a news story. The product automatically detects key people, places, and things mentioned in the story, and provides quick summaries of each to make it easier to access even the basic details necessary to understand the story.

The mission of the company is rooted in the founders’ DNA: Anum studied journalism at Emerson College and was a correspondent for the Boston Globe before pivoting to product and growth marketing when joining Cambridge-based HubSpot. By working closely with Anum, previously part of RDV’s 2017–2018 Class of Fellows, we saw early on how her expertise in journalism and news tech enabled her to think big about reimagining the news seeker experience. This was further strengthened when we met Vivian, who studied computer science and finance at Boston College before making her way to the MIT Media Lab where she not only studied the future of news, but worked with innovation teams at major media companies. She co-founded Deepstream, a video news startup, prior to joining Acciyo.

We’re thrilled to have Acciyo in the Rough Draft family, and are excited to work with them as they find ways to make reading the news faster, more efficient, and easier to comprehend in a time where doing so is becoming more and more important.

The company is in New York for the summer as a part of the 2018 cohort of MIT’s summer accelerator there, delta v. They’re in the midst of opening their product in a public beta launch, releasing it to users in waves. If you want to be among the first to use their news tool, sign up for the waitlist on their website.

If you’re a student looking to take your startup, company, or project to the next-level, drop us a line and let’s explore what we can build together. For more information about Rough Draft Ventures, visit our website, or follow us on Twitter!