Starting a Startup: Polytopix

I am inaugurating this year’s blogging with some very exciting news. I am starting a startup called Polytopix. I will be finishing my spring semester teaching responsibilities at Princeton and moving to Bay Area this summer to work full-time on Polytopix.


Meanwhile, I am actively designing, coding and deploying new algorithms, hiring R&D engineers, working on legal aspects and many more related action items. For the first time, I am using a book (instead of post-it’s) to keep track of my to-do list.


I can hear the clock ticking louder and faster than usual, perhaps because I am behind my schedule. According to my original plan (enthusiastically devised during my final semester of PhD), this blog post was supposed to appear in January 2013 !! A bunch of interesting (to say the least) events contributed generously to this delay.


What is Polytopix ?
Polytopix is aimed at adding context to news articles by analyzing the semantics of the news events. Polytopix’s algorithms retrieve news articles, categorize them, analyze their semantics and augment them with contextual explanatory articles.


Why Startup ?
The main idea of ‘semantic analysis of news’ is in my mind since my undergraduate senior thesis defense in 1999. Back then, I developed a summarization engine using lexical cohesion and information retrieval algorithms. See my very first publication here. Starting from the final semester of my PhD (Spring 2011), I started developing a semantic engine to understand and analyze news, especially financial news. I used it as a stock picker to invest my savings. It performed much better than my mutual funds. This is my first realization of the potential of ‘semantic analysis’. Polytopix applies semantic analysis to daily news articles. I am planning to “spin-off” the ‘financial news analysis’ as a separate startup. More on this, in a later blog post.


You probably heard the advice “Do not do a PhD just for the sake of doing it”. The same advice applies (with much more emphasis) to starting a startup. You should only start a startup if you are really passionate to solve a particular problem and you are strongly convinced that starting a company is the best way to solve it. I have all the right reasons to start Polytopix.


How do I feel now ?
Well, I am feeling very excited and energetic. The roadmap looks very challenging.


6 thoughts on “Starting a Startup: Polytopix

  1. If your stock picker performed much better than your mutual funds, wouldn’t a better way to make money be to let your stock picker do its job for a while and let your money compound exponentially (assuming that’s something you want to do, and assuming that your mutual funds performed near what the market did)? Why sell advice to others?

    • @NG I am not selling the advice to others. I will be part of the spin-off. Also, algorithmic trading tools work very well on an investment of $100K. Making them scalable (to invest millions) takes time.

  2. this is great to hear; good luck with this, startups can be a lot harder than the endless industry hype suggests. ie the “focusing on outliers” psychological bias.. also its hard to imagine how this could turn into a valuable idea based on your brief synopsis so far, but ofc there is trade secrets and all that. and you hint it may be used for stock trading etc. do you have backers? hope that you keep the blog up to date with developments it will be really fun to hear about its progress.

    • @vznvzn Yes. Running a startup requires lots of hard work and patience. I will keep the blog up to date with more details and progress.

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