About Speciate AI


To find untapped value in unstructured data by building solutions that help companies innovate, grow, increase profit and manage risk.

Our Story

Speciate AI was founded by former leaders of PwC’s global data analytics consulting team. Our experience advising Fortune 500 companies on how to apply advanced data and analytics techniques gave us three insights that led us to launch Speciate AI. First, companies have barely begun to tap unstructured data, which accounts for over 90% of the total data in the market. Today they spend 90+% of their data and analytics budget on managing and analyzing their structured data in data warehouses and data marts. We think this investment mix needs to shift. Second, companies are just scratching the surface on applying the power of artificial intelligence which is well suited to extract value from massive unstructured data sets that include text, images, audio and video formats. We think AI applications will become pervasive. Third, the economics of analysis can be radically transformed by creating AI driven solutions that analyze unstructured data to solve a range of business problems. We launched Speciate AI with the aspiration to use the power of artificial intelligence to deliver 100 to 1,000x the analysis for one- tenth of the cost.

The Speciate AI Difference

Advisory Mindset

We have experience advising senior executives and practitioners on how advanced data and analytics techniques can solve complex business problems, creating business cases to justify the investment and executing plans to provide tangible benefits on an ongoing basis.

Agile Approach

We understand that creating value with data and analytics is not a one and done proposition. We use an agile approach as we work with our customers to demonstrate the value from our solutions, identify needed changes, and quantify the potential return, prior to building at-scale solutions.

Data Synthesis

We continuously add and integrate new data to our exclusive and non-proprietary data sources that include text, audio, images and videos. We expand our data ontology that includes representations of companies, products, and customers so you always have the most current market view. We apply the latest AI techniques to synthesize the data into actionable insights as opposed to overwhelming you with more data.

Enthusiasts Network

We use our exclusive partnerships with media companies, academic communities and other providers to form a network of “Product Enthusiasts” that companies can tap to provide deep insights for market research, product development, experience design, go-to-market plans and post launch changes. We truly allow companies to have an ongoing dialogue with informed customers that can provide novel insights.

Our Team

We are a team of multi-disciplinary experts that combine data engineering, data science, solution design and development, and analytics advisory skill sets to provide you innovative data and AI solutions that give you the actionable insights that matter most.

Jason "Gus" Carlock

Lead Data Scientist

Jason Hsu

Executive Creative Director

Nick Nafpliotis


Our Board

Our Advisory Board

Paul Blase


Paul Blase is CEO of Speciate AI which is spin-out from tronc. Formerly Paul was the managing partner of tronc’s AI and data solutions division responsible for building a portfolio of businesses and products that monetize data. Prior to that Paul was PwC’s U.S. and global analytics advisory leader responsible for capturing the market opportunity associated with helping it’s clients use advanced analytics and data techniques and technologies to improve the performance of their businesses across. During his time at PwC, Paul designed and launched PwC’s U.S. and global analytics and data operating model and managed investments across a team of nearly 1,700 practitioners with deep skill sets in data and analytics. Paul led the creation of a portfolio of analytic apps and launch of PwC’s global Analytic Apps Marketplace to provide analytics solutions to its clients. Prior to being acquired by PwC, Paul was a Managing Partner at Diamond Management & Technology Consultants where his responsibilities included leading its cross-industry Service Lines, insurance practice and enterprise practice. Paul’s speaking and publications forums include the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, Palo Alto Venture Forum, Oracle Openworld, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg, World Economic Forum, Corinium CAO Forum, AI World, and Forbes. Paul holds an M.B.A from M.I.T. Sloan School of Management with a focus on new product & venture development and a B.A. from Northwestern University in the Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences Honors Program.

Kate Besser

COO | Co-Founder

Kate Besser is one of the Co-Founders at Speciate AI. Prior to joining Speciate AI, Kate was the director of product and market strategy for tronc’s AI and data solutions division. Before joining tronc, Kate was a member of the analytics advisory team at PwC providing data-driven expertise and solutions to clients primarily in the private equity, industrial products, aerospace and defense sectors. Kate also served in the U.S. Navy as a division officer on the USS Pearl Harbor and as an operations officer at Commander, Naval Surface Forces.

Kate holds an M.B.A. from University of Chicago Booth School of Business with concentrations in econometrics and statistics and entrepreneurship and a B.S. in quantitative economics from the U.S. Naval Academy.

Spencer Allee

Spencer is VP AI & Data Science at Ascent Technologies. He has spent his career building data-driven solutions for Fortune 500 clients and he led PwC’s Analytics Innovation Accelerator, an R&D team focused on commercializing machine learning and big data technology. He has worked across a number of industries including insurance, banking, digital media, consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, and others. He holds a BA in Economics with Distinction from Yale University.

Tim Knight

Board of Directors

Tim Knight is President of tronc, Inc (formally Tribune Publishing). In this capacity, Tim is responsible for all of tronc’s local market operations. Most recently, he served as President of troncX, the digital content and commerce division of tronc, where he was responsible for advancing the award-winning media company’s digital strategy across all platforms.

Tim has also served as the President of Advance Ohio, and directed the strategy, sales, marketing and content of cleveland.com, one of the largest news and information sites in Ohio.

Tim previously served as CEO of Wrapports LLC, President and CEO of Newsday Media Group and Publisher of Newsday. In addition to the daily newspaper, he was responsible for Newsday’s interactive operations, amNewYork (a free paper distributed in New York City) as well as daily papers in Greenwich and Stamford, CT. Tim led the process that resulted in the sale of Newsday Media Group by Tribune Company to Cablevision Systems Corporation for $650 million in 2008.

Prior to joining Newsday in 2003, Tim held a number of senior management positions at the Tribune Company and the Chicago Tribune Media Group. He was a co-founder of and held senior management roles at Classified Ventures, LLC (parent of cars.com and apartments.com). Prior to joining Classified Ventures in 1997, Tim served as mergers and acquisitions counsel for Tribune Company.

Tim started his career as a corporate attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom in Chicago. He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, following which he passed the CPA exam. He also holds a juris doctorate with honors from DePaul University College of Law where he was Order of the Coif and attended the corporate finance program at London Business School.

Knight has been engaged in number of civic organizations over the years and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of DePaul University, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Destination Cleveland, United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Board of Regents of Mercy Home for Boys and Girls (Chicago). He also was a member of the Long Island Chapter of Young President’s Organization.

John Sviokla

Board of Directors

John Sviokla is an author and was a principal and US Advisory Innovation Leader with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). He served on PwC’s Advisory Leadership Group, the Global Thought Leadership Council, and led The Exchange — an ongoing think tank for PwC clients and business leaders. Previously, he served as Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Innovation Officer at Diamond Management Consultants.

John has 30 years of experience researching, writing and consulting on topics of innovation, technology, strategy and economic value. He has global experience serving a wide variety of clients. He works across many industries and businesses applying his expertise in customer behavior, economics, psychology, behavioral economics, sociology, business strategy, network analysis, measurement and leadership.

He has created some of the first thought leadership pieces on the coming world of digital competition including, Managing in the Marketspace, (1994) and Exploiting the Virtual Value Chain. He is also a major contributor to Oxford Economics study on Digital Megatrends (2015).

John earned his Bachelor's degree from Harvard College and obtained his Masters and Doctorate degree from Harvard Business School. He served on the Harvard Business School faculty from 1986-1998.

Dickson Chu

Advisory Board

Dickson Chu is an accomplished General Manager and innovative product builder with over 30 years of experience working at the intersection of Financial Services, customer insights and the strategic use of technology. He has held leadership roles at prominent companies – BBVA, Wells Fargo, Yahoo!, PayPal, Citi – where he created and/or grew sizable new businesses. He is also an investor, board director and active advisor to a number of emerging companies working to redefine the next generation of payments, commerce and business services. He is currently the head of portfolio management for BBVA’s New Digital Businesses where he has overall responsibility for the governance, budget and strategic direction of BBVA’s growing portfolio of FinTech businesses such as Simple in the US, Holvi in Finland, Atom Bank in the UK, Muno in Spain and OpenPay in Mexico.

Jaime Mahoney

Advisory Board

Jaime is a Brand & Innovation leader with 20 years experience managing world class brands and developing game changing innovation. Currently, she manages Keurig’s flagship brand, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, where she has morphed the business from slow declines to +15% growth. Prior to leading coffee she spent two years building KEURIG KOLD, developing its beverage strategy and creating new brands. She created a new innovation process for the company, eight beverage brands and a robust pipeline for long term brand & product development. Previously, Jaime spent nearly a decade at PepsiCo leading advertising campaigns, brand design, sports and lifestyle platforms, and retail promotions. She also worked in Sales and Category Management at Unilever on Skincare. Jaime has her MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management and BS from Babson College.

Bob Johnston

Advisory Board

Bob helps his clients pursue innovative growth opportunities and elevate their existing practice for company-wide innovation. For more than 30 years, he has been helping organizations unleash their creativity and innovation to achieve dramatic growth and new vitality. Clients have included IBM, BMW, Carl Zeiss, Center for Creative Leadership, 3M, United Way Worldwide, Procter & Gamble and Barclays Global Investors, among others. Bob has lectured on innovation at the Harvard Business School, Brown University, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and quoted on his work by Fortune, INC., Industry Week, Entrepreneur, the Journal of Creative Behavior, and CIO magazine. He is a past President and Board Chair of the Product Development and Management Association and has been inducted into the Creative Education Foundation’s Hall of Fame, where he served on the Board for eight years. Bob is the author of numerous articles on innovation and the book, The Power of Strategy Innovation: A New Way of Linking Creativity and Strategic Planning to Discover Great Business Opportunities, with Doug Bate. The book is full of stories about their collaboration with companies like 3M, Eli Lilly, Procter & Gamble, IBM, Carl Zeiss, Barclays Global Investors, Nokia, and Moen, among others, and the strategy innovation methodology we provided to drive their innovative growth. The updated version of the book describes the global emergence of a new role in the C-Suite, Chief Innovation Officer, and a trend toward Enterprise-wide Innovation. Bob enjoys speaking on the topic of Strategy Innovation and Enterprise Innovation and in the recent past has given presentations or keynotes for Washington D.C.’s AdWeek, the African Creativity Conference, the Host Hotel’s General Manager’s conference, the United Way Worldwide Leadership Conference and Regional Conferences and continues to guest lecture each semester in the Brown University Entrepreneurship Program. He has been invited to rejoin the Product Development and Management Board for 2017 and serves on the Board of the Vineyard Montessori School.