Every child has a job they dream of. Whether it’s becoming a dolphin trainer, helicopter pilot, policeman, or princess, the dreams of children are endless. As a little boy, I had two.

The first one was to become a professional football player, the second one was to travel around the world to find new inventions like Marco Polo. The first dream vanished as soon as I set foot on a grassroots football field as I noticed my feet weren’t as fast as my brain. The second dream faded with the rise of the digital revolution, as the entire world became accessible from our pocket.

Twelve years ago, I began pursuing an alternative dream to that of becoming a professional football player. SciSports opened more doors in football stadiums than I could have imagined. From joining coaches during the World Cup, helping players at the best clubs in the world, deciding upon the future of VAR to discussing the next hidden gemswith the best coaches in the world. All these experiences took me closer to professional football than my feet ever could have, whilst I had the honor to elevate the most beautiful game on the planet with a team of brilliant data and football enthusiasts.

Also twelve years ago, I joined a global startup competition called Get in the Ring. This event had something whimsical. Rather than a boring pitch competition, this one was truly about the founder. This one was about founders battling (verbally) in a ring; boasting about their products and traction. As a young entrepreneur, I never reached the finals but I always kept in touch with the founders of the competition that eventually founded Unknown Group.

Three years ago, one of these founders, Jurgen Nieuwenhuijsen, invited me over for coffee and shared his vision for finding founders that fix the future. He challenged me to build the tools to find inventions and innovators around the globe.

Marco Polo is long gone. His ship has sailed. Mine is yet to embark on a digital adventure.

Scouting companies is not about traveling anymore. It is not about wandering through the jungle to find new resources, but it is about finding the hidden gems in an endless sea of opportunities.

I am thrilled to announce that we are launching Akela Hub as an Unknown Group spinoff. Akela is named after both the leader of the wolves in ‘The Jungle Book’ that found Mowgli in the jungle, as well as the head of the scouting. We are an AI platform that scouts and analyses interesting companies for innovators. We gather informationabout more than 5 million companies and track all their achievements.

We have been working on this product for three years and used this solution within Unknown while scouting for corporate giants like Shell, Unilever, Bayer and many others. From now on, we open our AI platform and our scouting engine to the world. I will embark on this journey with a crew of ten passionate adventurers. Thanks for jumping on board, David, Yasmeen, Erwin, Kees, Gleb, Jasper, Martin, Sohail and Dovydas. Thanks for providing the ship, Hendrik, Edward, Jurgen, Madelon, Jeroen, Hans and Martin. Thanks for giving the love, faith and patience, Marjanne.

We are about to embark. If you want to check out whether this could help you to elevate your company or innovation agenda, let me know and I will save a special spot whilst we set sail.

Giels Brouwer
CEO Akela