“The advent of AI & Machine Learning in the Enterprise will require startups & enterprise software majors like SAP to collaborate – this is why we are here in Canada…. Looking for a few great startups” said Mark Noronha, Startup Engagement Lead, SAP Startup Focus as he welcomed the audience to the AI & the Enterprise event at OneEleven, a Toronto-based post-seed tech accelerator, on Wednesday, March 29th.
Over hundred attendees representing Toronto’s Tech community, including startups, local venture capital, accelerators, incubators, and corporations, gathered at the new OneEleven location to learn more about how Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are changing the enterprise and cheer for their favorite startup competing in the pitch competition.
The event was designed for Toronto’s local startups, and Bilal Khan, MD at OneEleven opened the event by sharing OneEleven’s story and mission: enable Canada’s best startups to focus on value creation and business growth relentlessly.
The night began with a keynote with Lalit Canaran, VP Emerging Technologies and IoT at SAP Canada, who took the audience on a journey through the latest advances in the IoT and Big Data space at SAP with Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and AI. “Data is at the core of business, and intelligent enterprise applications help companies augment knowledge work and make better decisions,” said Lalit.
Following Lalit’s opening keynote, Mark introduced Shawn Carver, VP Product & Co-Founder of Fiddlehead, Durk Stelter, Chief Revenue Officer at Pypestream, Roy Pereira, CEO & Founder of Zoom.ai, Steve Woods, CTO & Co-Founder of Nudge.ai, to the stage for a discussion on how Artificial Intelligence is solving enterprise challenges and how startups can be successful in a corporate ecosystem.
Each panelist provided firsthand insights as accomplished entrepreneurs and best practices on how startups can work with large enterprise clients. From this passionate and energetic panel discussion, we have learned a few lessons:
- Enterprise customers are excited about AI because it can make their life easier. They are interested in how startups can change their world, and they mainly look for the outcome of implementing AI, that is how they can do things faster, better, and differently.
- Everyone wants AI; nobody wants AI that “sucks.” Startups need to make sure their product and technology work correctly. Going to the market too fast with a product that has too many kinks could harm, even kill companies.
- Very few enterprises understand the concept of AI. It is critical to approach these organizations by explaining how AI can solve their business problems, and empower their workforce.
- Artificial Intelligence is not magic. Machines can perform tasks in a way that would be considered “smart,” yet it is never 100% accurate. The reality is that AI will not always deliver the solution you expect.
- Buyers’ expectations are very high, and there is often a gap between what they think a software will deliver and what it delivers. Startups need to bring buyers down to earth and explain to them what AI is about and set realistic expectations.
- The biggest challenge startups face today is the access to data. Although large enterprises own a significant amount of data, they are not happy to share, and the product implementation could take longer than what forecasted.
- High frequency and low impact processes are areas that benefit from AI. Big corporations are willing to adopt products that can increase productivity while reducing costs. For instance, supply chain companies claim that piling information can take up to 80% of the workforce.
Our panelists shared their stories and the secrets to building a successful startup:
- “Learn quickly and faster than your competitors. You can learn quickly, but you have to make sure you are faster than other players.” Durk Stelten, Chief Revenue Officer at Pypestream.
- “Deliver something people really want and are willing to pay for it. Ask customers what their challenges are and create a product that can solve address them. If they don’t know what their pain points are, find them.” Steve Woods, CTO & Co-Founder of Nudge.ai.
- “Focus on building a business and a team. Do not push yourself only as an AI company.” Roy Pereira, CEO & Founder of Zoom.ai.
The event continued with a vibrant pitch competition that featured five innovative AI startups competing for the titles of “the most innovative” and “the most transformative”. Each startup had three minutes to pitch their solution to a panel of three judges and received two minutes of feedback from the judges. After seeing many innovative ideas on the stage, and after much thought and deliberation, the judges unanimously selected the two winners.
Diligen Software emerged as “the most transformative solution”, solving a huge problem the legal industry has always faced. Diligen is a project management software for due diligence that uses highly trained machine learning algorithms to find and extract a wide range of provisions from contracts, and compile a due diligence report automatically.
BioSymetrics won “the most innovative solution” award, thanks to “Augusta”, their solution that enables data of any type, size and dimensionality from multiple sources to be explored and modelled with unprecedented speed and accuracy. BioSymetrics created a customized and flexible health and medical processing and modeling environment, which provides data exploration and machine-learning algorithms, and generates real-time updates for massive health data sets.
A huge thank-you to our partner OneEleven, as well as our amazing speakers for bringing their expertise to the stage, sharing their stories and advice. Finally, we would also like to thank the startups that took part in the pitch competition.