AI startup Sortal out to clean up the world's visual asset mess
5 November 2019, Written by Matt Ogg
When you're time-poor and live in a world where digital media is ubiquitous at home and in the workplace, it's very easy for the organisation of photos and videos to get left behind.
Put them in the cloud, sort through the deluge later.
Multiply that by all the staff within a company along with all their different ways of labelling, managing and organising visual assets, and suddenly you have a more serious problem.
Sortal founder Majella Edwards cottoned on to this issue after 16 years of working in collection management, visual arts, photography and product design for the likes of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Library of Australia and the Australian War Memorial.
These are the kind of institutions that have the means to hire staff who can manually register imagery, libraries, collateral and other intellectual property that they generate. But for most companies this standard of archiving is hard to attain.
"Coming into tech I thought why can't we make collection management software available to everyone? It makes life so much better," says Edwards, who was a finalist at this year's Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards.
The answer was her AI company Sortal, which was formally launched last week after two years of development and is powered by a Software as a Service (Saas) engine that can be limitlessly customised by those who use it.
"We're targeting small to medium enterprises, because they're the ones that are under-resourced and multitask - they wear a number of different hands, and they don't have dedicated staff in comms and marketing," says Edwards.
"On average about $8,200 is spent per person, per year on file management related activities, and that's huge at an organisation where people are wasting time with it. So what we're doing is streamlining those processes.
"It will manage copyright, versioning and duplicates, and because there's a lot of computer vision and artificial intelligence in there it learns from the team that uses it; it becomes highly customised to the industry it's being used in.
"There are other digital asset management systems in the market, though none of them are trainable such as ours."
Sortal already has early stage commercialisation with health sector clients and not-for-profits, but is on the cusp of a massive deal with a major Queensland cultural institution that is yet to be revealed.
However, Edwards has global ambitions and believes Sortal will find favour with SME customers the world over.
"A lot of our business development is done through meetings and talking to customers, but we've been in development for two years and during that time have spent considerable effort understanding GDPR (general data protection regulation).
"That means we can now trade in Europe and the Americas and Asia, because we have spent quite a lot of us understanding privacy and security in different jurisdictions.
"So even though we're starting in Australia, our plan is to be global very quickly."
She says the company is on track to doubling monthly recurring revenue next year and estimates a valuation of between $4-4.5 million, however that is still subject to change.
"There are 445 million micro, small and medium sized enterprises - 50% have a dedicated budget for cloud computing and recognise the importance of AI in the workplace," says Edwards.
"By 2025, Sortal intends to be a global leader in personalised digital asset management (DAM) as an AI powered personal assistant."
Edwards already has a few notches in her belt. Earlier this year, Sortal was awarded the merit recipient for Queensland Startup of the Year, and received a Good Design Award for its AI digital design.
Sortal also has two patents filed, both nationally and internationally for its AI system that learns and understands human meaning.
Business News Australia
Author: Matt Ogg