Interview With Toronto Based Startup, AiHello
Elevate is looking to feature Canada’s most promising AI startups on stage at this year’s festival through our ElevateR Pitch. ElevateR Pitch is a March Madness-style pitch competition where Canada’s best AI startup companies compete for the attention of international media, investors and global tech leaders. Finalists from across Canada will face-off with over $1,000,000 CAD in funding up for grabs for select finalists. On Tuesday, September 25 at the Sony Centre, the final four companies will get to pitch live on Elevate Main Stage right before Al Gore’s keynote.
We interviewed Ganesh Krishan, from AiHello, an AI startup founded in 2018 and headquartered in Toronto. Read below to learn more about Ganesh’s experiences at a startup and valuable advice he gives to the next generation of startup founders.
How many employees do you have? 9
How many users do you have? 750
What problem is your company solving and how?
We forecast sales of inventory by location. AiHello is a two-sided logistics company working to solve India’s shipping and supply chain problem. We connect a growing base of ecommerce merchants to a nationwide network of digitized warehouses to simplify shipping and logistics, allowing sellers to reach a large customer based quickly and easily.
Tell us about your lightbulb moment where you came up with the idea?
I have been in the retail industry for close to 16 years and have previously lead the retail forecasting project for IBM PC division. In 2014 I started consulting ecommerce sellers and helping them reach their business goals. One major challenge that I noticed is faced by almost all sellers is that they lack access to third party logistics and after connecting to 3pl systems they do not have enough information about stocking optimally by each warehouse. The same challenges are faced by chain retailers on a different scale. Their main challenge is stocking optimally by location
What was the biggest challenge in your first year?
The biggest challenge was to get quality data for our machine learning algorithms. This is indeed a challenge for most big data analytics and machine learning algorithms. This was a chicken and an egg situation because we could not deliver optimal results until we had fair bit of data to process and we could not get signups because of suboptimal results.
What was your turning point?
We added few more functionalities to our platform that did not require machine learning or big data. Matt, from FBA ALLSTARS, then emailed his podcast listeners about AiHello and offered then free account. We had a big success with 500+ sellers registering on our platform in a month or so.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Our biggest challenge today is in the business and growth area. This is a new area for the team and we are working together to solve the challenges. Tech challenges are concrete and quantifiable and hence easy for us to accomplish. Business challenges on the other hand deals with human emotions and are not really quantifiable and hence our struggle with it.
Best advice you’ve received?
It’s hard to rank the advice we received as best but we got numerous good advice. I usually find all advice given by Paul Graham on his site to be exceptionally good and very well written.
Best perk of your job?
The best perk of the job is that this is something that I really love doing. AI and Machine Learning has not only been my career but it is also my passion. The dev team is excellent and I love the daily challenges and growth from this startup
Your latest tech discovery?
We have been focusing on Monte Carlo Tree Search to improve our predictions. MCTS was also used by Google DeepMind in it’s AlphaZero chess engine. We have managed to get a working prototype of AlphaZero that plays chess with reasonable strength. We are amazed with the simplicity of the algorithm.
Your advice to the next generation of startup founders?
It’s much more important to focus on sales and generate revenue as quickly as possible. Ship the products as soon as possible and while you are gaining traction you can refine the product further based on customer feedback.
What are you most looking forward to at Elevate?
I am looking forward to network with other startup founders in AI space.
Join us September 21-27, 2018 in Toronto to be a part of a diverse and inclusive community at the forefront of innovation. Buy your tickets here.