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Building AI from Scratch  

Hossein Rahnama, Founder & CEO, Flybits

Building Artificial Intelligence from Scratch

Flybits empowers the world’s leading financial institutions to enter a new era of personalized banking, powered by contextual intelligence.

By unlocking and owning the power of context – knowledge of the precise circumstances and needs of a customer at a particular point in time – Flybits enables financial institutions to build intelligent, highly relevant and predictive customer experiences with ease and unprecedented speed. Without the need to re-engineer existing IT infrastructure, Flybits platform can integrate proprietary, public and contextual data to create a unified, context-based ecosystem and deliver powerful, in-the-moment connections, transforming financial institutions’ digital and mobile channels with rich, context-based customer experiences. With patent-protected AI and machine learning capabilities, Flybits’ end-to-end platform allows teams to orchestrate experiences without data science or technical know-how.

The Journey

Hossein Rahnama, CEO and Founder of Flybits, says: “My academic background is in data science and artificial intelligence. It’s great that many of the research areas that we were working on over the past two decades are now getting commercialized and are leaving the labs and finding their ways to the market.”

Noting that back then the market lacked the computing and storage capabilities we have now, Hossein adds that combining this with availability and access protocols to specific data sets enables us to create a strong growth ecosystem for several AI concepts.

The AI Expertise

Quipped on his thoughts on being considered as an expert in the AI field, Hossein notes, “It makes me worried, as AI is very much at its infancy stage. The foundations of many things that the commercial market finds new are decades old.”

He also points out that one needs to maintain a curious and exploratory view on AI and proceed with a mindset that we still need to learn a lot. “With that mindset, we can innovate. I become very uncomfortable when someone is being referred to as an AI expert when there is still so much for us to explore and develop.”

AI – The Way Ahead

On how AI can transform the world, Hossein notes that AI will introduce new roles around predictive service design and will bring design and ethics disciplines to the IT world. “It will break IT silos and make them more connected as it becomes a horizontal function in large corporations. It will make IT a distributed play between departments and startups and research labs.”

This trend will also create an urgency for large corporations to hire senior executives who have STEM education rather than law, finance, and business. While finance roles and units are currently the nuclei of most enterprises, Hossein notes that “many of them will be replaced by IT, and IT executives will be at the helm while finance executives become service providers.”

Observing that an interdisciplinary view on AI helps him gain proper insights on AI, Hossein adds, “Understanding data science, data governance, ethics, design and user experience along with foundational knowledge on statistical modeling can give you a stronger view on how to build AI and data strategy.”

The Game-changing Team

“I hired some amazing team members to complement my skill sets from finance, marketing, sales, and operations. They do it way better than I do and I am starting to also apply that approach to my product and engineering team. I must hire people that are different from me and whom I can learn from.”

A Piece of Advice

A word of advice for budding entrepreneurs, Hossein says, “Build a fail-safe culture from the board level to individual contributors. A business or a vision should never fail if it’s introducing micro failures that can make the company stronger. These micro failures are like vaccinations or homeopathy that makes the company stronger. Therefore, instead of massive long projects, start with smaller, more outcome-oriented initiatives.”

Hossein Rahnama, Founder and CEO

Company: Flybits

Website: flybits.com

Management: Hossein Rahnama, Founder and CEO

Founded Year: 2013

Headquarters: Toronto, Ontario

Description: Flybits is the first contextual customer engagement platform for banking, deepening customer relationships and value with true 1:1 personalization at scale.

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