Philly startup HeavyWater gets acquired by Florida-based Black Knight

The low-key startup, which leverages artificial intelligence for the mortgage industry, just got acquired for an undisclosed sum by Black Knight.

HeavyWater employs 14 out of the Science Center's ic@3401 space. (Courtesy photo)

A publicly-traded data analytics company in Jacksonville, Fla., saw value in a Philly startup called HeavyWater — makers of an artificial intelligence platform aimed at mortgage processing.

Mortgage services firm Black Knight announced Monday it acquired University City’s HeavyWater, which has a team of 14 based out of the Innovation Center @3401.

“AI, machine learning and neural network solutions are the future of delivering enhanced efficiencies and capabilities to our clients,” Black Knight CEO Anthony Jabbour said in an email. “We are very excited about the potential HeavyWater has to offer.”

The Philly company, founded by Soofi Safavi, says it had not received any institutional capital prior to the acquisition, but got “less than six-figures from one minor angel investor,” said Chief Revenue and Financial Officer David Luk, a former principal at Safeguard Scientifics who left his post in April to join the company.

HeavyWater’s flagship product is AIVA (which stands for Artificial Intelligence Virtual Assistant), a digital tool that Safavi says is already helping mortgage companies process financial documents, freeing up workers from performing repetitive tasks.

“This will help companies automate activities and allow its resources to focus on things that humans are uniquely qualified for: like empathy, creativity,” said Safavi, a graduate of Rutgers and former CTO at Philly-based mortgage company Radian Group. “Our goal is to create a digital workforce to help companies gain competitiveness and efficiency.”

AIVA — which, Safavi said, has a female identity only because the acronym yielded a female-sounding name — currently has a basic understanding of the mortgage industry, its terms and associated documentation.

“Compared to where we want to have AIVA, we have a road ahead of us,” Safavi said. “I’d say we’re at 4 percent of that journey.”

But amid concerns that algorithms are perpetuating racial bias, and in an industry often called out for racial discrimination the founder wanted to be very clear: AIVA is not meant to make any decisions on whether a person should or shouldn’t be approved , the founder said.

“We’re focused on automating the work and activity that the will let underwriter make the final decision,” Safavi said. “We’re automating tasks and discriminatory lending is not a factor when you’re just reading bank statements and asset positions. It’s about numbers, PDF’s and extracting data.”

The acquisition, the founder said, will let the company add more capabilities to the technology it has built so far and continue to build out its team.

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Philly startup Burro aims to revolutionize farming with robots

How to encourage more healthcare entrepreneurship (and why that matters)

9 inclusivity recommendations for tech workplaces from Philadelphia youth

Find out what type of heat wave you’re really in for with NOAA’s HeatRisk dashboard

Technically Media