Flow.ai, a startup based in Tilburg that develops software to easily create smart chatbots, has been selected for the exclusive Techstars accelerator program in Toronto. “The combination of the user experience design and the strong machine learning that Flow.ai offers is exactly what Artificial Intelligence (AI) needs right now”, says Sunil Sharma, Managing Director of Techstars Toronto. Selected individuals receive $120,000 directly from a group of US and Canadian investors at the start of the program.
“The selection by Techstars means that we can establish our name internationally”, says co-founder Sander Wubben. “The mentoring that Techstars offers will sharpen our business model. This step gives us the opportunity to grow quickly and get a foothold in North America.”
Toronto is a hotbed for artificial intelligence. Google has established several research institutes in Toronto, it is the location of Uber’s lab for autonomous cars and top universities Toronto University and Waterloo University are located there. There are also several other AI and innovation institutes such as the Vector Institute and the MaRS discovery district.
Flow.ai was founded in early 2016 and consists of co-founders Gijs van de Nieuwegiessen, Murat Ozmerd and Sander Wubben. Flow.ai is a platform for building smart conversational AI (voice interfaces and chatbots) via a drag and drop interface. It offers integrations with Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa, web clients and soon Google Home and WhatsApp. The Flow.ai team consists of academics, designers, and technologists.
Techstars is seen, together with Y-Combinator, as the world’s absolute leader in accelerators. Techstars helps the most promising entrepreneurs succeed through a global ecosystem consisting of tens of thousands of founders, mentors, investors and corporate partners. The American accelerator provides a three-month program where the selected companies have access to mentors, advice, office space and various training courses. Only 1 to 2 % of all applications for Techstars is successful.