In a startup world bent on technological disruption, Shami Khalili and her team at HelloGov see distinctly collaborative opportunities between woman or man and machine.
This Ashburn-based artificial intelligence company was founded on the belief that a human-centered partnership between people and AI can enhance data preparation, machine learning, and cognitive performance.
Put more simply: the future of AI, particularly in federal government, is about job augmentation and not job displacement. Everyone can keep their jobs and leverage technology to do it better. The technology will actually create more jobs.
“We are a human-to-human company,” Khalili said during their 2021 Loudoun Innovation Challenge pitch. “We start with the human experience and work back toward the technology.”
The HelloGov origin story, like any group of superheroes, predates their name.
In 2016, a senior official at the Department of Defense challenged a team of renowned artificial intelligence experts and Silicon Valley veterans to develop a product that could outperform DoD’s current application, developed by a Fortune 100 company.
The team delivered the application—file name hello_gov.py—in less than 90 days.
When asked which company delivered this superior product in record time, HelloGov was born, founded right here in Loudoun County. Its mission: to build the nation’s leading federal AI company while democratizing government access to AI.
HelloGov straddles two high-growth markets in artificial intelligence and U.S. federal government contracting. Both markets are well positioned for substantial growth, with trillions of dollars of opportunity.
By 2019, HelloGov was growing 25%, month-over-month, beating private market estimates by double digits, while on-ramping three major clients.
“We use innovation as a tool, in tandem with the fast-moving Silicon Valley credo of reinvesting 90% of our bottom line profit into internal R&D ideas, brought forth and championed by our own team,” Khalili explained.
Game-changing innovation is a precise recipe, balanced by being nimble, powerful, scalable and flexible.
“Think of it as a skunkworks model,” she said, referring to the radically innovative, anti-bureaucratic process developed by Lockheed Martin. “This innovation model allows us to compete with the Goliaths of our industry like IBM, while sustaining the small David mentality of a startup.”
That model was validated with a nomination for Fast Company’s prestigious Most Innovative Company award.
Innovation is commonly associated with the team at HelloGov, and rightly so. Between Khalili, who oversees day-to-day operations, and fellow partner AJ Jaghori, who runs corporate governance and relations, the duo has founded eight technology companies, including four successful exits.
The humans behind HelloGov and the technology that powers its solutions are two of the major reasons why HelloGov was named the overall winner of the 2021 Loudoun Innovation Challenge.
“All of us at HelloGov are humbled by this incredible recognition…our growth is fueled by continuous innovation,” Khalili said upon winning. “Loudoun County has been very near and dear to us, a place where we see our future growth as our company blitz scales at the national stage.”
The roadmap includes a secondary commercial market and ambitious benchmarks, including unicorn status (a privately held startup with a value of more than $1 billion) and the creation of a Data Preparation Center of Excellence for the federal government, right here in Loudoun County.
To do so, HelloGov has committed to hiring and training veterans, translating elite military service to the data technology sector and creating the next generation of technologists.
“We are one team aligned behind a single vision democratize access to artificial intelligence through a full stack services and products approach,” Khalili said. “Onward and upward.”