How an entrepreneur used LinkedIn to raise R$ 72 million

Reproduction / Forbes USA

Reproduction / Forbes USA

AI Squared works to incorporate AI-derived insights into real-time business applications and workflow platforms.

After four years of developing his startup, Benjamin Harvey felt that a businessman like Roger Ferguson, the former CEO of TIAA, a pension and insurance company, would like to see what his company AI Squared could do. Harvey was so confident that he reached out to the executive via LinkedIn.

“Dr Ferguson, here’s some of the work we’re doing in financial services software. I would just like to chat with you for 15 minutes,” he wrote in February 2022. Ferguson’s response was an invitation to have breakfast with Benjamin at the Four Seasons in Washington, DC.

“When I have a vision, I tirelessly try to make it a reality,” says Benjamin Harvey Forbes.

Read also:

In March of this year, AI Squared closed a $13.8 million Series A round of funding led by venture capital firm Ansa Capital, with participation from Baltimore-based New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Roger Ferguson, an executive whom Harvey contacted via LinkedIn.

Since its inception, the startup has raised $20 million from investors. However, AI Squared is not yet profitable.

By 2024, however, Harvey estimates the company will reach $10 million in revenue, built from product licensing fees and data usage.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AI Squared employs 30 people and has contracts with the US Air Force, US Navy, National Security Agency (NSA), Nasdaq-traded cybersecurity firm Rapid7 and the company’s Coca-Cola service in Florida.

“For the past five years, organizations have been building AI (AI) models. But they haven’t really been able to get the full value of this technology,” says Harvey.

Washing machine

AI Squared investor George Papadopoulos of the NEA called artificial intelligence “a technology with great potential for democratization that will give people amplifiers for their creativity.”

When asked how he sees AI Squared’s performance in a market of constant change and growth, Papadopoulos, a former HP and Honeywell engineer, said the startup will function as a sort of “washing machine” for AI. “Companies are now focused on building AI models, and the problem is that many of them do not implement this technology in practice, it is equivalent to washing laundry and throwing it on the floor,” explains Papadopoulos.

He adds that the AI ​​Squared won’t just be a regular washing machine, “after all, it will dry, fold your clothes and neatly fold them for you.”

Harvey agrees with the washing machine analogy. “We take that data, put it in a washing machine, and get a product that you can use to support your business operations.”

Meet Benjamin Harvey

Raised in Jacksonville, Florida among six siblings, Harvey attributes his passion for computers to his upbringing. Harvey’s father was a pastor at a local church and a project manager for AT&T, and he often brought home broken computers. Over the years, young Harvey learned to take apart and repair cars. Years later, Harvey graduated from Mississippi Valley State University with a degree in computer science, where he attended on a football scholarship.

After graduation, Harvey received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Bowie State University, and in 2009 began working as the head of data research at the US National Security Agency (NSA).

It was there that he came up with the idea for AI Squared when he discovered serious gaps in providing real-time data and analytics to the US military.

Ten years later, in 2019, he left the NSA to join Databricks, a data processing and analytics company valued by Forbes at $43 billion, as a solutions architect. At his new job, he presented his startup idea for the first time.

Matej Zacharias, co-founder and CTO of Databricks, liked what he heard. So Harvey took out a $20,000 credit card and then asked his wife to loan him $500,000 (money saved for retirement) to fund AI Squared.

Now with $13.8 million in fresh capital, Harvey says AI Squared plans to expand business operations to meet expected demand for AI software-as-a-service platforms. This perspective is the result of a collaboration with Ferguson, who was previously just a LinkedIn liaison and now joins AI Squared’s board of directors.

“We cultivated this relationship from a LinkedIn message,” Harvey concludes.

Check Also

Nike’s CEO blames the home office for the company’s lack of innovation

Nike CEO John Donahoe said on Friday (April 12, 2024). CNBC that remote work hinders …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *