Ottawa-based MindBridge AI raises $4.3M seed round

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper is an advisor to one of the contributing funds
Solon
MindBridge AI founder Solon Angel.

MindBridge AI needs to expand to meet demand, and founder Solon Angel says its $4.3-million seed round is just enough to take the company to the next level.

The Ottawa-based firm develops artificial intelligence technologies aimed at preventing fraud, alerting auditors to suspicious or anomalous activity in the books. Just a few months ago, MindBridge AI was selected to participate in the Bank of England’s FinTech accelerator program, where it will use its AI Auditor tool in collaborations with the massive institution.

The round, which officially closed last Friday, includes members of Ottawa’s Capital Angel Network and Fresh Founders, as well as funds such as Toronto-based MaRS Investments and Montreal-based Real Ventures.

Mr. Angel tells OBJ that the round will allow MindBridge AI to meet the international demand for its product. The company currently has 25 staff at its Ottawa headquarters and seven based in Europe and the United States; the seed round will allow the company to add another 10 employees in the next quarter.

While some companies may find it tempting to raise as much money as possible, Mr. Angel says MindBridge AI had to turn away some prospective investors. He chalks the company’s prudent investment approach to CEO Eli Fathi, a veteran entrepreneur who co-founded and sold Ottawa-based Fluidware to SurveyMonkey in 2014.

“He’s business fundamentals first,” Mr. Angel says, and as such the company was not keen to raise more money than the company needed to reach the next level.

“A lot of people were not happy with us… we could’ve taken way more money.”

Mr. Fathi hand-picked the funds the company would be working with, too. Real Ventures, for example, was one of the funds behind a $102-million investment in Montreal-based Element AI that was announced last week. Element AI’s chief executive was even in the room as MindBridge pitched the fund, and Mr. Angel says he’s confident the Montreal-based fund knows what it’s doing in artificial intelligence.

Silicon Valley-based fund 8VC was also involved in MindBridge’s seed round. The fund counts former prime minister Stephen Harper among its advisers, which Mr. Angel says was one of the main reasons the company accepted the investment. He says 8VC’s core values of government accountability align well with MindBridge’s mission.

“They believe the world is broken, and it needs to be fixed.”

Mr. Harper has kept a low-profile since the 2015 federal election in which the Conservative Party lost to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, launching a Calgary-based consulting firm after resigning as a Member of Parliament in August, 2016. In a post on Medium announcing he would join the advisory board of 8VC in April, he praised the firm’s work across multiple sectors, specifically mentioning financial transactions.

“8VC is at the leading edge, tackling the deep and difficult problems that institutions and citizens are facing today,” he wrote.