Techopia Live: MindBridge CEO Eli Fathi wants to put Ottawa AI on the map

If you go back to the earliest archives of Techopia Live from a year ago, you’ll find one of our first interviews was in the corner of a nondescript office with MindBridge AI CEO Eli Fathi.

One year older, wiser and better-funded (and with way higher production values on our end), Fathi returned to Techopia Live to share the company’s past year of success and break down what’s next for the firm.

One of those successes was a $4.3-million seed round raised in June. Fathi says that the firm had already established a suite of quality C-level executives, but needed that first round to build out the firm’s depth. The two-year-old startup is now close to 40 employees with customers in five countries.

Fathi says the firm’s momentum would’ve been in danger if it had tried to aggressively chase revenue growth and new markets without this team in place.

“To do a scale-up, you cannot do it without having a strong management team in both layers, multiple layers. Because success can kill you,” he says. When you don’t have the infrastructure to support the success, customers will be unhappy, products won’t be ready in time and costly shortcuts will be taken.

Fathi says MindBridge AI sits at a rare crux of opportunities. He says the startup, which uses artificial intelligence in fraud prevention, has a disruptive technology in a hot market. Those two things, combined with the aforementioned management team, are what give the veteran CEO confidence.

MindBridge AI’s product has been impressive enough to garner attention from the Bank of England. The firm has now partnered with the massive financial institution on multiple products.

Fathi says that, ordinarily, he wouldn’t advise CEOs to do what he did in pursuing the Bank of England. The bank falls outside of MindBridge’s primary addressable market of external auditing, and if Fathi has learned anything from his seven startups, it’s “focus, focus, focus.”

With the notoriety of the Bank of England, though, he made an exception.

“If the Bank of England bought from you, everyone else looks differently at you.”

Fathi told Techopia Live that he’s excited by Canada’s potential to lead in the emerging AI space. More than 500 AI startups have already started in the country, a number of leading academics in the field work here and major companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft have all invested in AI research being done here.

But he’s disappointed with the lack of AI-attention paid to Ottawa. To remedy that, he says MindBridge will be holding a large AI conference in May to attract investors and industry leaders to the city’s potential.

“Our intention is to actually put Ottawa on the map, plant the flag here that we are open to business in AI, we have great companies and we can become a centre of excellence in this area.”