By Rosa Saba
Earlier in 2018, Dr. Shahzad Khan had a decision to make.
He had a few job offers that would take him away from Kanata, where he had worked for several years as the founder of Gnowit, a platform that processes around 1.2 million documents a day from reliable sources such as news articles and public government information. He also had the opportunity to join Kanata-based company Lytica, which for a year had been working with Gnowit.
Lytica, which Khan says has some of the biggest companies in the world on its client list, provides supply chain information and benchmarking data to companies that are procuring electronic components. Gnowit’s capability to distill and process real-time information was an asset to the company’s work.
What began as a once-a-week consulting contract turned into a full-time job that resulted in Khan, as well as several of his Gnowit team members, joining Lytica.
Within three months of his initial consulting contract, Khan says it became clear that Gnowit had a lot to offer Lytica. Gnowit’s services helped to lower Lytica’s failure rate by around 80 per cent, he says.
“It was related to the same things – being able to pull data from online sources (and) being able to make sense of documents,” he says. “It was a win-win situation for everyone.” He officially joined Lytica as its chief research officer in April 2018.
Khan is currently working on Lytica’s new project, a solution aimed at combating human error in supply chain data by mapping data to an in-house reference library.
Even though one of Khan’s job offers was a Facebook position in London, England, he says the decision to stay in Kanata made the most sense for him. Originally from Pakistan, he’s been in Ottawa since 2007 and has built a life in Canada’s capital.
“I’m very happy with the way I can contribute to the ecosystem here,” he says, adding that he likes the steady, community-like feel of the technology park.
“I felt that long-term I’d be happier staying in Ottawa,” says Khan. “The relationships are long term. You get to know people, and you stick with them and they stick with you.”
Most of Lytica’s clients are international, and Khan says that’s reflected in the diverse team working out of Kanata, which he jokes is like “a mini U.N” with dozens of languages spoken among the 21 people at the firm.
Khan also wants to see Lytica continue growing – the firm has been doubling in size annually in recent years – and he wants to maintain that pattern and be part of the company’s long-term goals.
The transition from Gnowit to Lytica was a logical one, he says.
“It made sense for me, it made sense for the team, it made sense for our clients.”
Alongside his new role at Lytica, Shahzad Khan is also an adviser at several other tech companies, including:
• zazuhōm (Ottawa)
• EdgeworthBox (New York City)
• BluWave-ai (Ottawa)
• DroneEntry (Ottawa)