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Start-Up: Harbinger Technologies Group Inc

Monday, April 4, 2005; Page E05

Name: Harbinger Technologies Group Inc.

Location: Annapolis


Harbinger CEO Jeff Chapman, left, and chief technology officer Brian Kolo. (Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)

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Funding: The founders financed the company, which also receives assistance as part of the Chesapeake Innovation Center in Annapolis.

Big idea: A software program based on phonetics that matches Arabic names and words with names on terrorist watch lists. Users type in Arabic names phonetically, and the software generates every variant of a name and runs each against a database. If a variant turns up on a watch list, security officials take a closer look at the person in question. Jeff Chapman, chief executive, said the various translations and spellings of foreign words and names "plague our ability to connect the dots."

Where the idea was hatched: On the back of a napkin. Chapman said all the founders were involved in counterterrorism efforts in the government. They hired a development team and rolled out the product at Christmas.

Example of use: The 9/11 hijackers used aliases to obtain driver's licenses by varying the spelling of their names. A motor vehicle department could use the software to catch names that match phonetically with names on a watch list. The software also can map and analyze genealogical conventions in foreign names to determine whether someone might be a first cousin of a person on a watch list.

Big-name customer: Chapman said several "three-letter agencies" in the federal government were interested in the software. On the consulting side, the company has taught best practices for counterterrorism to several state, local and federal government agencies.

Founded: March 2004

Who's in charge: Chapman; Ahmed Qureshi, chief operating officer; and Michael Thomas, chief financial officer and general counsel, founded the company. Brian Kolo is chief technology officer.

Employees: Seven.

Web site: www.harbingerassociates.com

What the name means: "Harbinger is the foretelling of events to come," Chapman said. "We felt that it was appropriate for us because we're working with intelligence and law enforcement to stop the next terrorist attack."

Quote: "We're in the business of catching false negatives, but we also reduce false positives," Chapman said


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