In our years of experience starting companies, we’ve realized that one of the key elements to startup success is timing. We see this often — a group of talented founders invent a product for a market that doesn’t exist yet, or a few business school grads build a model for a solution which is still just a ‘nice to have’. It’s hard to watch people with extremely high potential run out of money because time is not on their side.
In our previous startups, we learned that in avoiding these types of timing traps lies the key difference between a good outcome and a great one. This is precisely why our founding team put a lot of thought into the concept of timing in our early days. We carefully focused on analyzing converging trends across three dimensions, Technology, Industry, and Location, in order to hone in on a vision which would inevitably come true in the years to come.
We stand on the shoulders of giants. Leaders who persisted through many AI winters have put Canada on the map in recent years, creating an open field for entrepreneurs from all walks of life to create the next billion dollar company. In fact, Toronto is often referred to as the ‘AI capital of the world’, and for good reason.
The groundbreaking work by many of these great leaders inspired our co-founder, Nick Seelert, to pioneer the first machine learning program at Brock University that focused on the application of time-based ML on the human brain. It also led us to NextAI, a global innovation hub for artificial intelligence related venture creation and technology commercialization, where our company was founded in 2017. These experiences were foundational in helping us refine our technology, which today, helps solve some of the biggest problems which hold financial institutions back from competing in a data-driven world.
Toronto has always been known as the home of some of the biggest banks on the planet. Through the years, we’ve often heard people question whether our real landmark is the CN Tower or the ‘Big Five’. Naturally, it makes sense that many Toronto-born founders discovered their inspiration by either working for or selling to, the big banks in Canada. Our founding team is no different.
Our rockstar team has a combined experience of decades working for large financial enterprises, which provided us with the key insight that the industry was about to experience a seismic shift that we had to be at the centre of. Today, the world’s banks are spending billions to adapt their businesses in response to the rapid changes in technology, competition, and consumer expectations, and most struggle to build the data infrastructure necessary to effectively manage the tradeoffs between risk, profitability, and consumer experience for their largest consumer portfolios and income generators.
Aside from industry and technology trends, the most important decision we made was where to start our company. Silicon Valley was still seen as the obvious choice prior to the last few years of tech mania in Toronto. In fact, we were close to packing our bags and moving to the Bay Area. However, back in 2017, those of us who were close to the startup ecosystem could feel something big brewing up here. A tipping point was coming, and in hindsight, there was no better time to start a company in the city we grew up in. We’re glad we chose to stay!
Our decision to build our company in our home city, at the perfect time, put us at the centre of this technology explosion we are witnessing in front of us today. In contrast to when we started our first company in the early 2000s, we now had resources like NextAI and Techstars assisting us in finding the right customers and investors who were aligned with our vision. And that’s just what we got…
NextAI initially put us in front of the good folks at RBC, who had invested in the AI innovation ecosystem to find product-centric partners to add a touch of innovation to existing processes and workflows. This was a learning experience for both sides, and as an early adopter, the timing was perfect, as their teams further helped us validate the effectiveness of our technology to fuel our growth.
Sunil Sharma introduced us to our lead investor at Techstars Demo Day. Chris Albinson, Co-Founder of the C100 and his new fund Breakaway Growth, invested in our team. Since then, they have relentlessly opened up their network to accelerate our growth, and we can safely say to all founders out there, that deciding to take smart money at the right time is the best decision you’ll ever make.
As we said, it’s all about timing, and for all of these reasons and more, Toronto is ready to OwnThePodium and the Collision conference is it's coming out party. There’s no doubt that building a Fintech AI company in this city couldn’t have come at a better time, and it’s a great place for our team to deliver on our mission to build the world’s most robust vertical-specific data infrastructure to fuel AI product innovation within the financial services industry.
We would like to introduce you to Senso.ai.
Big thanks to our amazing team, the Toronto innovation ecosystem, including NextAI and Techstars, our board of directors and advisors, our investors, Breakaway Growth, TribalScale, and many others who have selflessly supported us on our journey.
Follow us on Twitter at @GoSenso
Saroop Bhawani — @saroopbharwani
Nick Seelert — @slerts