TigerGraph Developer Spotlights allows you to get to know people using TigerGraph around the world to create powerful connected data solutions answering countless use cases.
Meet Mor Sagmon
Learn about Mor’s journey, from learning to program at the age of 13 to becoming the Co-Founder & CTO of educational technology company Simplify, and how he is using graph to develop a tool to help students with homework worldwide!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, and what are you currently working on.
I was born in Israel and have lived here most of my life, except for relocating to the United States for some time when I worked for SAP as a Senior Consultant. My tech journey began when I received my first personal computer at 13. Back then, personal computers were just emerging. The computer I received was a Texas Instruments 99 PC with one kilobyte of RAM that connected to the TV for the monitor and a portable cassette tape for sequential storage of programs. I taught myself programming on this computer and started working as a programmer and tutor shortly after.
After high school, during my military service, I had the opportunity to continue programming. Since I had experience working with computers, my Battalion commander allowed me to work with one of the first computers they’d ever received. I then graduated from the Technion with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. My career continued as the Chief Information Officer of an industrial company, and then I spent 15 years with SAP in various positions.
Over the past several years, I’ve been consulting on Business Information Systems development and offering online digital programming courses. Two and a half years ago, I joined Amir Hardoof. Together we are developing a revolutionary application in the ed-tech space that will help students worldwide get unstuck with homework and get help when they need it. We call it Simplify.
Simplify sounds amazing! What was it that got you interested in the ed-tech space?
My passion for education started after the military when I was in my 20s. I worked as a computer instructor and made a living by teaching people how to program computers. Later in my career, I met Amir Hardoof when I hired him as the marketing consultant for my business. After working together for some time, Amir approached me with a great idea he’d been pondering about for some time and asked me to join him and serve as the technical lead for the start-up. Simplify combined my love for teaching and technology, so I joined Amir. He and I are like birds of the same feather. We are a great team, and together we are driving Simplify on all levels.
What interested you in TigerGraph, and what has it been like working with the platform?
One of the concepts in Simplify exhibits a social learning map. Graph databases were not an intuitive choice after 40 years of writing, teaching, and developing relational databases. However, for social learning, a graph approach felt more natural. That is when I started looking more seriously into graph databases. I initially designed a hybrid architecture, with a graph database serving the social learning part alongside relational schema for the traditional operations, such as billing, accounts, and so forth. One day, I was bold enough to ditch the relational database altogether and bravely decided to go with an all-graph database solution. One of the things that pushed me to make this decision was finding TigerGraph because it is well architected for scale and performance and was already serving large projects with established corporations.
Talking about this reminds me that I found TigerGraph in a somewhat unusual way. We were looking for a graph modeling tool to play around with our schema design. All of the graph database providers we found offered a visualization explorer but nothing for design time. But then we found TigerGraph GraphStudio. That was the first time we found a very intuitive graphic interface for designing and exploring the graph schema. From there, we started looking more into TigerGraph as a viable option. We looked into other graph databases, and I found that, to my judgment, TigerGraph surpassed others in architecture and scalability. That’s when we decided to stick with TigerGraph as the backend database for our product.
What has surprised you most about working with graph technology and how did your past experience allow you to adapt?
I was most surprised and impressed with the amount of freedom when translating business requirements to an efficient schema design. The rules for designing a relational database are well defined. You’d probably find similar schema designs by different people developing for the same business purpose. However, a graph schema can be designed in multiple ways to serve the abstractions of business processes. Because of this, graph database design rewards experience and business process understanding. I felt freedom and room for creativity as I brought forth all of my business understanding and experience. It was challenging and exciting at the same time.
Having worked for SAP, the leading business software provider, for 15 years, I understand the importance of understanding business processes. When you come from the information systems field with a business process perspective, as opposed to just a technical/development perspective, you have a much more in-depth understanding and capacity to design the best schema to meet the business requirements.
What would you say has been the most important resource in your career?
My greatest resource has been myself—my instinct to think outside the box and my desire to learn on a deep level. I try not to think in a standard way, which has led me to find unique solutions. And when I am learning something new, I don’t compromise. I am not a perfectionist, but I try to understand topics beyond the superficial level. When I am working on something, I have the need to understand the subject at hand thoroughly. This has helped me understand different perspectives and be able to draw my own conclusions.
You’ve co-authored a book on electronic spreadsheets. If you were to write a second book, what would it be about?
I would write a book about the journey of humankind on this planet, how we have lost our way and detracted from nature. To provide some context, about 20 years ago, I experienced some health issues. My colleagues convinced me to see an alternative medicine practitioner. To my surprise, this practitioner was able to transform my health in a dramatic way and in a short period of time, do something that the best doctors in Israel and Houston (where I lived at that time) hadn’t done.
After seeing noticeable results, I was intrigued and set out on a journey to learn about well-being and the history and evolution of humankind. I learned that it’s up to us to revolutionize the health concepts that dictate our societies, mostly Western societies. If we balance our current beliefs with a more natural approach, we can get back on track to become a healthy, prosperous species. And, of course, it’s not easy to change norms, given all the conflicting interests in our modern society, but sustainable natural well-being is still an option if we choose it. This is what my book would be about.
Anything else you want to share about yourself?
I guess I would like to share my motto. I coined a phrase that guides me in life, and I would like to share it with you all: Seek truth, don’t follow the herd.
To me, this phrase means to be curious and find your truth. Don’t follow a path just because most people are headed that way. Find what you believe to be right and follow that path.