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Surviving after being hit by a drunk driver drove her to build a social network that has been praised by Obama


Learning happens around the clock and it happens collaboratively. Today, professionals must solve complex problems, with increasing speed, and on-the-go.

Declara’s already popular knowledge platform is now available as an iPhone app that is meant to be the perfect tool to access the right information at the right time, anywhere.

“The sum of all human knowledge is available on your phone today, but it’s impossible to consume it if it’s not curated. Basic search often creates too much noise as it surfaces the streams of content. With our mobile app, Declara provides personalized content that is already one step ahead of your question,” said Declara CEO and founder Ramona Pierson.

What problem is Declara solving?

“Search is now a 25-year-old technology and was not designed to help knowledge workers or learners access information. Instead, traditional search companies were designed to sell ads, and they do it very well in fact,” Ramona told Anthill.

“Therefore, Declara was developed specifically with the knowledge worker in mind.

“Knowledge workers spend about 30 per cent of their time or more searching in order to find content to help them develop information and knowledge they can share, curate, and distribute throughout their networks and organizations,” she pointed out.

“We decided to help the process by leveraging predictive and transformative analytics to drive recommendations that personalize the user experience.

“Thus, knowledge workers can be more productive and more efficiently access the experts and information to help them curate knowledge.”

So how exactly does it work?

Declara indexes and analyzes content of any type, from anywhere, in one unified platform. The company’s Declara Open Knowledge Engine™ is a unique social network for sharing knowledge, articles, and insights online.

Recently named a top 10 education app on the Apple Store, the free Declara app lets users curate, organize, and share high-quality articles or videos, browse collections of curated online content, discover highly relevant content and people, follow and live chat with experts and peers and explore annotated versions of articles with insights.

Users can curate, annotate, provide context, share with their colleagues and teams, and collaborate inside of documents and videos. The resulting collective intelligence improves idea-flow and decision-making, inside and outside the organization.

“I’ll share my personal useage,” Ramona offered.

“As a CEO, I spend a great deal of time researching technologies, products, investors, the market trends, and backgrounds of people I am interested in hiring, or companies I am considering a partnership with. Thus, it is easy to say, I spend a large amount of time researching on the web.

“Before Declara, I would grab links to URLs and then paste it in emails and send these emails out to people on my team and share my thoughts or highlighted insights from the articles and then I lose this information.

“By using Declara, with a click of a button, I can download articles, videos, PDFs from the web and create collections and build a working group around the different business areas I am interacting with in minutes and never lose the content or information, ideas, or insights I make or others in my groups make.

“Thus, knowledge is created, curated, shared, and continues to grow.”

What is the story behind Declara?

In 1984, at age 22, Ramona – a US Marine at the time – was hit by a drunk driver. The car tore her body apart, slicing open her throat, gouging her chest, and leaving her heart and lungs fully exposed.

Although no one believed she would survive, she did.

Ramona was placed in a drug-induced coma, which lasted longer than they expected, 18 months. When she finally woke up she was blind, unable to walk, talk, or feed herself.

She was totally blind for 11 years, and has since regained partial sight in her left eye thanks to a corneal transplant. She has endured over a 100 reconstructive surgeries.

It was the process of having to relearn just about everything — including how to breathe and walk — that made her realize how important it is to be a lifelong learner.

And it’s that notion that inspired her to start Declara in 2012 with Nelson Gonzalez. Declara has developed ways for people to learn in more personalized ways, through advanced semantic search and predictive analysis.

In three years, Declara has grown to 65 employees, and attracted $32.5 million in funding from such notable investors as Peter Thiel and his Founders Fund, GSV Capital, Data Collective, the Singapore Economic Development Board EDBI, Catamount Ventures, and Susa Ventures. They are now planning to raise a Series B round this month.

Declara and Ramona were also recently chosen by the White House to be among a select group to be showcased at the White House’s first-ever Demo Day on August 4, 2015

White House Demo Day celebrated the important role of entrepreneurship in local and global economies, and highlighted the vital role of entrepreneurs such as Pierson. Pierson gave President Obama a demonstration of the Declara platform. Later, President Obama specifically praised Declara as an example of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Taking root in Australia

Declara is generating considerable buzz in the US (Ramona is one of Tech.co’s 50 Women in Tech Dominating Silicon Valley) and has recently opened APAC headquarters in Singapore, headed by James Stanbridge (former Director of Microsoft China).

The company is currently exploring partnerships and opportunities in Australia, and recognises this market as a key growth opportunity.

In 2014, they launched their initial enterprise product into the market, selling it to Education Services Australia to provide all the educators in Australia with a social learning platform.

Innovative learning groups like Sydney-based online ESL company Wise Kangaroo and the Sydney EduTech group are already embracing our platform.

Ramona also revealed to us that they are running pilots with two of the most prestigious universities in Australia, details of which the will be announcing later this spring.

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