Startup Of The Week: OXSICO
A company called UAB “Lingua Intellegens”, which is known in the academic world under the brand name OXSICO, is known for its main product: a text similarity checking solution. This solution is used by various institutions, such as scientific institutions, lawyers, journalists, and bloggers, to determine whether documents are plagiarized or not. In education, it is widely used as a tool to promote academic integrity and prevent plagiarism. Let’s read the whole interview with Kotryna Tomkevičiūtė, CEO of OXSICO.
Tell us about your startup. How does it work?
OXSICO‘s plagiarism-checking solution combines several different technologies and techniques to detect and prevent plagiarism. Some of the key components include a text matching algorithm, natural language processing, a database of sources, analysis, and detection of cheating techniques.
Our text matching algorithm can recognize 129 different languages and has real-time indexing of 80 million scholarly articles. It can analyze the most popular document formats, including .txt, .pdf, and Google Docs files, as well as ZIP, TAR, and HTM. Additionally, it has OCR recognition technology, which is capable of identifying picture-based documents and extracting text from them for verification.
What are your competitive advantages that work? What are your competitors?
Our tool is both suitable for studying and research. We make a significant effort in gathering specialized scientific datasets. Currently, users can check their documents against 80 out of 105 million scholarly articles with a DOI identifier, making it the most comprehensive collection among other plagiarism checking services.
In addition to similarity scores (main plagiarism score), we analyze and provide scores for: paraphrasing correct and improper quotation issues (anti-cheating technology).
Our competitive edge over our competitors is our fast and comprehensive customer support. Many customers have switched to our solution due to unsatisfactory support from competitors and have been highly satisfied with our prompt and friendly service. We have implemented strict protocols to ensure quick support, which combined with our employees’ dedication, results in a well-received combination.
If some small institutions do not have an LMS, OXSICO can provide coverage. Our SaaS offers educators an assignment feature, allowing them to create assessments and enroll students, creating private repositories.
It’s worth mentioning that only two customers discontinued using our tool last year due to the end of their funding. All other schools and universities have renewed their contracts with us, and we are continuously expanding globally.
Our competitors: Turnitin LLC, Ouriginal, Copyscape, PlagScan
What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
Our founders started their business journey on the other side of the barricades – the business was writing, helping students write coursework, bachelor’s and master’s theses. On the other side, there were a lot of questions about whether we are doing it right.
In today’s society academic integrity is a hot topic (and even hotter topic in our company :). Academic integrity is a hot topic in today’s society, and even more so in our company. While it may seem harmless, academic dishonesty poses significant risks to students, institutions, society, and even the state.
The educational system, especially educational institutions, should cultivate academic integrity. This is the public’s expectation. If faced with the choice between a doctor who plagiarized their thesis or one who wrote it honestly, most people would choose the latter.
We believe that we can help create a more honest world, which is why we have been addressing the issue of academic dishonesty since 2011. Our software development is based on research, student behavior trends, and the needs of educational institutions. This is why we have included cheat detection functionality in our system. Our system is currently immune to all known forms of cheating, including changing other different language scripts (cirilica-to Latin, Latin-to-greek), inserted white characters instead of space, new one trend – inserted picture instead of text (screenshots). And our cherry on the top for deep analysis – Contract cheating. You can analyze one to one, or one to other same student works to check Stylistic Similarity, presenting the difference between documents. Lexical diversity, sentence structure.
When exactly did you launch, what were the main challenges before launching?
The business idea started more than 10 years ago, but it started growing 4-5 years ago.
Currently we are targeting small-mid size universities in Europe. Also content creation companies. We have 35 clients located in countries such as Lithuania, France, Hungary, Latvia, Spain, Albania, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Our main B2C market includes students and educators in Europe, with a focus on countries such as Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Spain, Czech Republic, and Poland. Every year, we reach 1 million users worldwide.
What are the biggest challenges while working on this product and how are you overcoming it?
The main challenge we faced, and still face, is convincing authorities that a startup with only 6 people from Lithuania can provide quality services comparable to our competitors in the USA.
We are pleased to see that institutions’ attitudes are changing, and we are grateful to be trusted by clients all over the world. We strive to build long-term relationships based on trust, positive attitude, and respect. By being passionate about what we do, we aim not only for the best and latest, but also for a personal touch.
Tell us more about funding. How did you get it? Do you seek extra funding?
In 2020 we received 30,000 from the accelerator 70v. Currently, we are self-financing our business. However, we are also networking and searching for funds whose approach to edtech aligns with ours.
Please introduce your team!
First and foremost, we are a team of hardworking and perfectionist individuals. You will notice this in different aspects of our service, including prompt support, quick response, and meticulous solutions. We are a dedicated and well-coordinated team with diverse backgrounds and strong expertise in various fields.
One of our co-founders, Arnoldas Viburys, is a senior developer with analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. Another co-founder, Chorst Klaus, is the company strategist with a sharp analytical mind. We also have two highly skilled senior developers and one support specialist on the team.
Strong startup culture isn’t something that can be created overnight but it can be worked towards with some conscious moves. What are your moves towards this?
We are fostering open and honest communication. We encourage employees to share their ideas and thoughts freely and create a supportive environment where everyone feels heard. We promote collaboration and teamwork by encouraging employees to work together, share their knowledge and skills, and support each other to achieve common goals. We believe that startup culture is built on innovation and creativity so we encourage employees to think outside the box, try new things, and embrace failure as a learning opportunity. We recognize and celebrate both individual and team successes, and make sure that everyone feels valued and appreciated for their contributions. We also offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible schedules, which can help employees balance their work and personal lives and increase job satisfaction.
Bonus question: what’s next? Tell us about your future plans.
New technologies, such as ChatGPT, creates additional opportunities for us as educational institutions will need sophisticated tools to verify written papers. In the future we plan to search for new value propositions for our customers. This might include the change of business model and the whole plagiarism prevention process.