Venture Out Profile: Pholysa Mantryvong On His Inspiring Journey From Surviving On The Streets To Becoming Founder & CEO of ENKIDOO.AI
Promoting a future of non-biased and fear-free decision-making environment in the business world.
Pholysa Mantryvong is the Founder and CEO of ENKIDOO.AI, an AI and blockchain powered startup which allows companies to converse with their business applications using natural language in order to get insights, data analytics and advice, instantaneously. Pholysa believes that decision-making in the business environment should not be biased by our own interpretation of data or fear of the reaction of others, and that it is why he wants to give access to decision-makers to an omniscient AI business expert that is available 24/7. Pholysa holds a degree in Industrial System Engineering from Université du Québec at Trois-Rivières, and his startup is part of the IBM Global Entrepreneur program, NVIDIA Inception Program and an alumnus of the Next Founders 2017 cohort.
VO: What is Enkidoo.ai, and what is your mission with the company?
PM: Our mission is to allows SMEs to converse with their business applications using natural language in order to get insights, data analytics and advice, instantaneously. Communicate with your ERP, E-Commerce and accounting software via the communication channel of your choice: Slack, SMS, Telegram, Facebook Messenger and many others to come. Currently we are integrating with the following business software: Oracle Netsuite, Shopify, Lightspeed, Magento and Quickbooks. We also have a blockchain powered developer platform so you can customize or create your own conversational driven app without having prior knowledge in AI or NLP and deploy it into our market store.
VO: What effect (if any) has being a part of the LGBTQA+ community had on your career?
I struggled with coming out at age 18, I had to leave my home against my will, and survive on the streets for many weeks, jumping from low paying job to low paying job. Finally, things became so bad that I made an attempt on my life and ended up in the hospital.
After I recovered, I decided to fight back, go back to school to finish CEGEP, and get my engineering degree. After my degree was complete, I got the opportunity to start my career in aerospace at Pratt & Whitney Canada, which led to a tech management consulting company in Chicago. All of the experiences that I went through, took me down a path of self-discovery, realization, and learning that gave me the motivation and skills I needed to found my company.
VO: Why did you come to the Venture Out Conference last year?
PM: I was a part of a group called “Queer Tech Montreal”, and found out through them that Start Proud was launching Venture Out, a conference that would include a pitch competition. I saw this not only as an opportunity to present on my company, but a chance to network and meet other founders and tech enthusiasts as well.
VO: Had you always intended on applying for NEXT Canada? If not, what were your reasons for applying?
PM: I had actually never heard of NEXT Canada until I came to Venture Out. In between talks and panels, I visited a number of kiosks and ending up speaking with the NEXT Canada representatives. Something clicked when I heard about the program and realized immediately that this was for me.
It is these random moments that makes being an entrepreneur in Canada so cool. This path took me to Queer Tech Montreal, which led me to Venture Out, which led me to NEXT Canada, which has enabled me to take my business to the next level. Building your network by going to these groups and conferences is one of the most valuable things you can do as a founder, and I have found it to be absolutely key for success.
VO: What has the experience been like for you over the past year?
PM: It has been a very difficult and challenging year. I thought we had our MVP, so we tried to bootstrap with the hope that our sales would fuel future growth. Unfortunately, despite having what I believed to be a phenomenal product, the launch was unsuccessful and we ran out of money. I was then faced with the heartbreaking task of laying off two-thirds of my staff. This has been the most challenging part of my entrepreneurial journey to-date.
Fortunately a few weeks later I found out that I had been accepted into NEXT Canada, and this renewed my resolve to learn from my mistakes, take full advantage of the program, and keep on trying.
Since then, we have received funding from an investor, begun to grow our team of developers back out, finessed our product to be highly focused and specialized, incorporated blockchain technology into our platform, and are preparing to raise our first large round of investment.
VO: What is one piece of advice you have for LGBTQA+ folks who are just starting out in their careers in tech or entrepreneurship?
PM: Never give up. It gets better if you stay true to yourself and learn from your mistakes!
VO: As a co-founder, why do you think diversity & inclusion is important for companies?
PM: If you are half yourself, you are half productive. You have to be able to be your full self if you want to fully perform at work. You have to not be scared of who you are, to express different ideas and opinions without fear of being judged or fired. Diversity has and will always be a vector of creativity, innovation and prosperity. It is up to the organization to foster that safe environment for their employees to feel fully accepted so that they can thrive.
VO: Anything else that you’d like to highlight?
PM: Like us on Facebook to follow our story at https://www.facebook.com/enkidootech! And if you are interested in participating in the Beta version of our product, please go to our website: https://www.enkidoo.ai/. Lastly, as I mentioned previously we are currently working to raise a round of investment, so if you are an investor, I would love to connect. Please add me on LinkedIn and let’s start a conversation!
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