Element AI is the new darling in tech innovation. This 100% Montreal startup is revolutionizing artificial intelligence usages and making a big name in the business environment. We met with one of its co-founders, Anne Martel, during the 2017 edition of Startupfest in Montreal. She shares glimpses of this fascinating journey.
After closing the biggest Series A financing of the year ($135 million) and less than a year after their launch, Element AI has become the leading global company when it comes to AI.
From Art History to Artificial intelligence
Anne graduated from Concordia University in Art History and Finance less than 10 years ago. Today, she is the Senior Vice President of Operations for possibly the biggest AI incubator in the world. Without any previous experience in AI or computer sciences, but with a natural tendency towards entrepreneurship, she started her career by taking over the family business in the healthcare industry, manufacturing hardware for medical equipment and helped structure the company before selling it. This first experience had given her the desire to start a new company, in the tech industry this time.
She met serial AI entrepreneurs Jean Francois Gagne and Nicolas Chapados who were brainstorming about launching an accelerator or an integrator of tech projects. Both had a strong successful background in AI projects, building companies over the years. Anne successfully shaped her role in that triangle.
Joining dots in the AI network
Element AI’s business model is based on creating connections with AI centers (McGill, Université de Montreal) and “bringing together the best in entrepreneurship, technology and academia”. With AI pioneer Yoshua Bengio as a co-founder, the startup can only be on the right track.
The business goal of Element AI is to reorganize companies around AI, automatize and strengthen processes in the fields of logistics or supply chain. Through a strong strategy consultants team, the company is building relations with corporations and educating them.
We all know Siri, how it uses language processing to understand the questions we ask and then are able to make simple operations on our devices. But there is even greater potential when it comes to disrupting business solutions – imagine a device that could organize treatment procedures, memorize and assist doctors in making the most informed decision?
Growing next to the tech giants
Although Element AI is backed up by big names like Microsoft, Intel and Nvidia, the idea is to remain an incubator of talents.
“We are focused on B2B solutions, so we provide an alternative to tech giants and attract different talents.”
Experts that are hired are not only specialized in AI research but they also understand robotics, manufacturing, cyber-security, financial services. They bring this unique transversal expertise to businesses.