In 2011, Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen wrote that “software is eating the world”. Now aerospace engineer and London Business School (LBS) alumnus Nuno Sebastião says “AI is eating software”.
Built on his work at the European Space Agency (ESA), Nuno co-founded Feedzai, a data science company that’s keeping some of the world’s leading banks and retailers safe, in 2009. Take a quick tour of the firm’s corporate story and you’ll read that “Feedzai is AI”.
“We’re at the forefront of an incredible opportunity with AI,” says Nuno. “We’re working toward developing game-changing technologies.” His company uses real-time, machine-based learning to identify fraud and is fast becoming a legend in the fintech Silicon Valley scene.
Today Feedzai is one of Europe’s top-50 fastest growing start-ups according to Tech Tour, the independent firm committed to helping emerging tech companies in Europe. Nuno and his team of top data scientists and engineers have secured more than US$32 million (£25 million) in venture funding and are now on a mission to recruit more than 300 staff by the end of 2017.
One cushy job, one big risk
The engineer-turned-entrepreneur and CEO honed his business idea while studying an Executive MBA at LBS (from 2007 to 2009), and he learnt key lessons along the way.
Prior to LBS Nuno had already co-founded his first software consulting business in Portugal before joining the European Space Agency (ESA) as its youngest ever product manager. While there, he spearheaded the development of the ESA Satellite Simulation Infrastructure, helping to advance the history-making Rosetta comet chaser space probe.
Nuno admits that leaving one of the most secure jobs in Europe was a risk. “The challenge came when I told my family I was going to quit my cushy job at the ESA to pursue a wild idea. Everyone told me I was crazy, but I said I was doing it anyway.”
When Nuno graduated from LBS he had no firm plans. He knew he wanted to shake up an industry but didn’t know exactly how. In 2010, Nuno left ESA and, determined, went in search of funding.
Walking away from his job with the space agency was the moment Nuno says he became an entrepreneur. It also taught him his first lesson: if you’ve got to do something, give it everything you’ve got. Just do it.
Nuno convinced investors over the course of a year to plunge more than US$1 million (£790,000) into his embryonic venture – at this stage, they were investing in his reputation and a technology that could spot anomalies in large datasets.