In this episode of “Who Are These Startups,” join us as we delve into the world of AI and machine learning with Mike Leslie, co-founder of Revela. Hosted by The Startup Coach, the podcast explores the journey of Revela—a machine learning and AI monitoring system designed to ensure the continued performance and integrity of AI models. Mike discusses the challenges faced by AI engineers and data scientists, revealing how Revela provides a vital toolkit to maintain model relevance, prevent bias, and optimize decision-making. Tune in to discover the story behind Revela’s transformation from a consulting firm to a product-driven company and gain insights into the evolving landscape of AI technology and its responsible deployment. Explore how AI is being embraced and how Revela is playing a pivotal role in shaping a safer and more efficient AI-driven future.
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Automated Transcript of Revela on Who Are These Startups
Mike Leslie of Revela.io, The Startup Coach
The Startup Coach 00:00
Welcome to Who are the startups, podcast shorts featuring founder interviews of Canadian startups. Welcome back to who are these startups? I am the startup coach, founder of Torontostarts and with me today is Mike Leslie, co founder of Revela. Welcome, Mike.
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 00:15
Hey, Craig, nice to Nice to meet you. And thanks for the time.
The Startup Coach 00:17
What does Revela do?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 00:19
So Revela is a machine learning and AI monitoring system. So basically provide guardrails for AI machine learning models and production goal, they’re making sure that they’re basically performing properly, and they’re not getting too stale over time. And then ultimately, you know, being unbiased and all that kind of stuff.
The Startup Coach 00:37
Who is Revela For?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 00:39
So Revela is for machine learning? Engineers and data scientists are the users, they’re the ones who basically use it to understand when do you want to retrain your model. So you got them all in production, you know, when’s the best time to retrain it, minimize your use of compute power, and just your own time as far as like managing that. And we also appeal to the executive team as well. So this might be a CEO of an enterprise he wants to gain some visibility into how are my machine learning AI investments performing, right, so we are that way to measure that and then bring that information up to say, putting money in these areas. So it’s fraud detection, running, insurance claims, so on and so forth. And understanding how that is playing out as far as investing further into it.
The Startup Coach 01:20
What is your startup story
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 01:22
Revela started four years ago, 2019, we were actually a machine learning AI consulting company before that. And then we decided through the insight we gained seeing these machine learning engineering projects basically fail over time, because we could help them develop it, we’d leave, the models would basically go stale over time, and start drifting. So we decided to pivot to become a product company early last year to make sure that, you know, we can help more teams prevent that issue from happening in the future.
The Startup Coach 01:49
What drives you,
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 01:51
it’s really about just enabling this massive deployment and explosion of like AI technologies that we’re seeing globally right now. But helping provide the infrastructure to do that safely. And in a, you know, proper, like engineering sort of like process, right? So you know, providing that quality control system. So we have these AI models out there that are giving us fantastic benefits, but doing it safely and mitigating the problems and the risks around them.
The Startup Coach 02:19
How do you define success?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 02:21
Well, we’re very much you know, a developer, an engineering sort of focused product. So a big part of our success is knowing that we’re just genuinely being useful for the people building these models and developing them. The ultimate goal is just be that enablement platform that helps break those barriers for these teams.
The Startup Coach 02:41
What is your business model?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 02:43
Yeah, so we primarily are b2b enterprise sales. So we focus on large enterprise like banks, telcos, you know, traditional enterprises that are, say not tech companies, but rely heavily on machine learning AI, we took that approach, because the way we’ve developed our products and API, and it just is very easy to deploy on prem, we tick that like security and compliance box really well. And also being able to integrate with their existing systems. So we also take a channel approach as well. So we are working to build these relationships with, say, some of the big accounting firms to bring Revela into their broader trusted AI packages that then get sold to say these large financial institutions or other organizations.
The Startup Coach 03:28
What is your funding situation?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 03:30
basically just wrapped up our precede round, we’re looking to hit a couple of really key milestones over the next couple of months here as far as our first like enterprise level, customers, that a lot of interesting things cooking there. So the goal is to get through that, and then we’d be looking at raising a seed round, say, early fall of this year would be the goal.
The Startup Coach 03:50
What do you wish you knew before you started,
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 03:52
I wish I had knew maybe more personally about like, how to really speak to like the executive level sales. So you know, I’m an engineer myself in the background, I’ve kind of been moving much more towards a business, you know, leadership type role, really understanding how to speak the language of like a CEO of a large enterprise or a CEO or CIO, right. And that’s where we’re really going to see a big jump in the value of our sale. That’s something that I wish I knew more about, but we’re figuring that out as we go.
The Startup Coach 04:23
What is your biggest learning as a founder?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 04:26
The biggest learning is you just have to just do what you want to do. You know, there’s so many you’ll find so many times to say no, and ways out. So it’s just about really being persevering and grinding through that. Honestly, there’s no magic to it. There’s no special tricks. It’s just being committed. Honestly.
The Startup Coach 04:47
What’s your biggest lesson in pitching your startup?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 04:51
It’s especially being a technical sale like we’re like machine learning AI infrastructure, breaking it down into you know, first principles and Being as simple and easy to understand as possible that’s so important. And making sure that the technical piece, what your product is doing is actually easily correlating to the problem that you’re saying you’re solving. Right? It’s very easy to have this like gap. So you got to, like, connect those things. So obviously, so an investor or even a customer can say, Here’s my problem. Here’s the problem. This is how you solve it, It’s as clear as day.
The Startup Coach 05:27
What’s your favorite productivity hack or AI tool?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 05:32
I just gotta go with the obvious one here, chatGPT, push out a few proposals recently. And it’s just very handy on kind of filling some of that, you know, just generalized like content, you know, backfill or type content that you need to have some of these things. So obviously, the part that’s specific to your product and your roadmap and your, you know, strategy, you can’t help too much there. It’s definitely been a big time saver on the writing content type thing. So
The Startup Coach 06:00
you’re currently in the next AI program? Can you tell us about your experience?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 06:06
It’s been a really great program. Yeah, it’s been fantastic. We’re about a month in now. We’re remote. So we’re actually in Victoria, on the west coast here. We love how they’ve opened the doors up to remote companies, especially after COVID. So we feel very fortunate to be able to be part of that Montreal and Toronto ecosystem, which is a big part of it is like being with next AI just be able to tap into that ecosystem. Because we don’t really have that strong over here on the West Coast. You know, AI is not as big of a thing, big tech scene, but AI and machine learning. It’s all really back East right now. So it’s been a just fantastic program to get us into the community in Canada, where it’s all happening. And we’ve met some great mentors, just a fantastic support network there. Definitely recommend next day at any early stage companies wanting to get deeper into AI.
The Startup Coach 06:52
Do you have any tips for founders,
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 06:55
honestly, probably similar to my previous response about just like, be able to be clear about what your story is, and and you know, just making what you’re trying to do? And Build just really easy and to understand and like have that clear vision? That’s yeah, I think that’s really the the biggest tip there.
The Startup Coach 07:12
What’s one book every founder should read.
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 07:16
Shoe Dog from Phil Knight, the Nike founder biography, I love biographies, I tend to read those more than kind of like business type, like strategy books, I do read some of those as well. But I find you can really glean the most real practical stuff, reading these like autobiographies from these effects, like successful founders. And that was really interesting one, nothing to do with tech, which is interesting. But from just the path that that company went through, it was just really fascinating to read.
The Startup Coach 07:45
As an AI founder, what is your reaction to the current call the pause AI development, and the general fear around it?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 07:51
Yeah, that’s a really good one, I put a lot of thought and had a lot of conversations on LinkedIn, or so on and so forth about that. So my position is, it’s not about slowing down AI research, I don’t see how that’s going to solve anything stalling the r&d of it, it’s the getting regulatory practices sped up. So it can be in step with this arms race. We’re biased, because we’re part of that regulatory infrastructure that will allow AI to be deployed safely and you know, more responsibly. So but it’s I think it’s really the key thing is it’s not about slowing innovation down. It’s let’s get the government processes moving faster, try to keep up with it, because it’s an arms race and you’re not going to be able to stop it. First of all, it’s got too much weight behind it. And there’s too much benefit to be had, I think from from everyone.
The Startup Coach 08:45
Where can our listeners connect with you and Revela online?
Mike Leslie of Revela.io 08:48
Yeah, I’d say the best place is engage with me on LinkedIn, you can just find me Mike Leslie, look me up with Revela. That’s our e v e la. That’s where I’m most active, like socially, I don’t, to be honest, I’m not really big Twitter user, start there and then go to our website, Revela.io, r e v e la.io. And you can learn more about our product in our company.
The Startup Coach 09:11
And for those listening, the links to that will all be in the show notes. I really appreciate you for taking the time out of your busy day to be part of who are these startups? Thanks, Craig. Really appreciate the invite and love to hear the rest of your show there. This has been Who are these startups? Find out more at who are the startups.com and check out our live events at Torontostarts.com/events