Deep-learning, empathy and what it takes to build an AI-first company

Posted by Mike Walsh

Sep 17, 2017 6:52:09 PM

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Montreal, it turns out, is ground zero for some of the best and brightest in the emergent AI community. Look closely at the newly hired AI ranks at Google, Uber or Facebook and you will lots of expat Canadians. Now, a new company called Element AI, is working to help other companies apply the very same cutting edge deep-learning research to commercial problems from manufacturing to logistics. One of the co-founders of Element AI is JS Cornoyer, who also started Montreal Startup and Real Ventures. Catching up at his co-working digs in downtown Montreal, we spoke about the future of deep-learning, and the kinds of empathetic skills that will be prized in humans in a post-automation future.



CATEGORY: Technology, Venture Capital

Swedish startups, data-driven brands and how AI will impact creativity

Posted by Mike Walsh

May 29, 2017 7:46:16 AM

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Ted Persson is one of the most interesting and creative thinkers in the Nordic tech scene. Currently a Design Partner with Swedish private equity group, EQT, he previously founded digital agency Great Works, as well as Our/Vodka, a global vodka made by local people in cities around the world run by Pernod Ricard. We met a few years back while I was working on the board of his agency’s parent company, the North Alliance. Reconnecting in Stockholm, we talked about the secrets of Swedish startup success, how brands are changing the way they think about data, and the broader impact of AI on the creative professional.



CATEGORY: Global, Venture Capital

Competitive advantage, platforms and the power of network effects

Posted by Mike Walsh

May 14, 2017 7:31:07 AM

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Jeremy Philips is the epitome of smart money. He is currently a General Partner of Spark Capital, which is behind disruptive innovators like Slack and Wealthfront, but many would know him from his provocative column in the New York Times. Prior to Spark, Jeremy co-founded ecorp, Australia’s leading, publicly traded Australian internet company, and was also Executive Vice President at News Corporation, focusing on digital strategy and acquisitions. We caught up for a coffee in New York, to talk about the difference between true disruption and great execution, whether we should be frightened about the ‘frightful five’, and what it takes to gain competitive advantage in a networked age.


CATEGORY: Leadership, Venture Capital

Going global, idea mazes, and designing cities for self driving cars

Posted by Mike Walsh

Jan 6, 2016 12:00:00 AM



Niki Scevak is one of the smartest people I know. He and I worked together at Jupiter Research, over a decade ago. Now he runs Blackbird Ventures, Australia’s largest VC fund with nearly a quarter of a billion dollars under management. When I visited him at his offices in Sydney, we talked about how enterprise software companies have shifted from steak dinner selling to letting their products pitch themselves. It is not that people aren’t important, but as Niki pointed out, the expensive people have been shifted from the start of the process, to the end of it, once users have created a groundswell. In this episode you will also hear us debate the power of founder passion, whether or not big companies can really emulate startups and the unit economics of driverless cars.



CATEGORY: Innovation, Venture Capital

Miami startups, kidnap insurance and emerging market innovation

Posted by Mike Walsh

Dec 6, 2015 12:00:00 AM



This weekend marks the start of the Miami high season, with Art Basel and the attendant influx of well-heeled collectors, bored oligarchs, and international jetset in search of fun, sun and an excuse for a good party. But that’s not the only reason why the world is watching Miami. The city is becoming an emerging hub for high tech companies, especially those with a focus on the Hispanic market. German Montoya, a former McKinsey consultant, and Nabyl Charania, a mathematician who founded software developer Decipher Labs, are at the heart of Florida’s new tech renaissance. Their new venture, Rokk3r Labs, is a collective of engineers, creatives, and strategists who are trying to accelerate the process of launching new companies. Catching up in their offices in South Beach, I spoke with German about emerging market innovation, local solutions with global potential, the challenge of scaling global venture investment, the future of geofencing, and why truly great ideas can come from everywhere, not just Palo Alto.



CATEGORY: Global, Venture Capital