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Sault entrepreneur recognized with national accolade

Melissa Kargiannakis named “One to Watch”
Melissa Kargiannakis (back, second from left), who hails originally from Sault Ste. Marie, has won a Ones to Watch Award through the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. (Supplied photo)

A tech entrepreneur from Sault Ste. Marie has been singled out as “One to Watch” by the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards.

Melissa Kargiannakis, founder and president of the online application Skritswap, was named one of five women who have launched businesses that have “made an incredible impact in fewer than three years.”

She was named alongside the 18 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists. Winners will be celebrated during an awards gala in Toronto on Nov. 20.

This year, the national initiative attracted 9,000 nominations from across the country.

“I am absolutely delighted to win the Ones to Watch Award. What an honour to be recognized like this after just over a year and a half full-time on Skritswap,” Kargiannakis said in a news release.

“This award is the result of many years, different experiences/jobs, and countless people who have shaped me into the leader I am. I love the award’s title for its prophetic message: there’s only more to come – keep watching.”

Skritswap, formerly called Heuristext, helps make the information online easier to understand, using artificial intelligence to “translate” jargon into clear text, adapting information to different reading levels.

The technology aims to reduce misinformation, while slowly increasing literacy levels amongst users.

Kargiannakis first conceived of the idea in 2013 while studying for her Master’s degree in Health Information Science at Western University.

Over the last few years, she has raised thousands in startup funding to get the business off the ground, including $900,0000 from the federal government, part of which was to be used to expand the company into the U.S.

Kargiannakis’ first paying clients have come from the finance and insurance sectors, including the Business Development Bank of Canada and Manulife.

She currently splits her time between Toronto and San Francisco, Calif.