Here at Work In Startups, we’re on a mission to champion the best and most exciting startups in the UK. To support this, we’re starting a new blog series highlighting some of the most innovative and fast-growing startups around. Follow us as we interview startup founders and employees across the country and find out more about their goals and ambitions, what the future holds and (for all you startup jobseekers out there looking for the inside scoop) what they look for in a prospective employee.
This week we’re interviewing Apostolos Lymperis, Business Growth Strategist at CausaLens – a London deeptech startup that leads causal AI research, which is a major step towards developing true AI. Their technology transforms organisations by autonomously discovering valuable insights that optimise business outcomes. Their flagship product, a Causality Infused AutoML for time-series, goes beyond both traditional machine learning and AutoML – it has become the industry standard in the financial sector and other industries.
What would you say CausaLens’s mission is?
Our startup mission is to develop Causal AI. We’re developing Artificial Intelligence that understands cause and effect and can solve the most challenging problems. For example, there are some challenging problems in financial markets and static AI models can’t really solve them. Traditional AI doesn’t properly work in dynamic, complicated systems like this.
What are your values as an ambitious startup?
One of our values is drive and resilience. In order to succeed as a growing startup, we need people that are willing to take the initiative and be bold. Our product is still developing, so we love it when people take ownership of tasks and drive innovation. We find that really happens when people are passionate about our mission and what we’re trying to achieve.
Another one of our company values is trust and accountability. When you care about what you’re doing and feel that you’re contributing to a great vision – you want to be accountable for what you’re doing. We want everyone to feel that we are attributing and making movements towards that vision!
Lastly, we want our startup employees to be kind and inspirational. We’re a small team, and kindness and trustworthiness are vital if we’re to feel comfortable around each other. We spend a lot of time together (and many nights!), so being able to feel comfortable and trust the people around us is super important. As for inspiration – we are doing a lot of hard work and need the people around us to continually inspire and contribute to the higher vision. Our product is driven by innovation, so it’s important that we are motivated and inspire each other.
What has your growth been like?
CausaLens was founded in 2017 by Darko Matovski and Maksim Sipos, and has been growing pretty rapidly since! Two years ago we were a team of 5 and now we’re a team of 20. In a year from now we’re looking to be 40-50, so we’re definitely a startup looking to hire!
We’ve also hit various milestones along the way. We’ve closed two major seed funding rounds (one of which was one of the biggest startup seed funding in Europe) and we’ve started working with some of the most sophisticated organisations in finance. Our client roster is growing day by day and it’s exciting to witness and be a part of. To add to the excitement, we’re moving to a cool new startup office in Hammersmith! This is necessary to support our growth.
What does 2020 hold in store for CausaLens?
We want to be the go-to place for causal AI. We also want to attract more top engineers and scientists as this will help us develop our product offering. If you’re a world class researcher that’s passionate about our mission – please do get in touch, we’d love to work with you.
Additionally, we want to cement ourselves as the industry standard in finance. We already have a very good reputation here and clients from all over the world, but we’re looking to grow our client base. As well as exploring this market further, we’re looking to diversify and bring value to other industries such as logistics and transportation. We have a few cool projects in the works, but they’re customer sensitive so I have to keep my lips sealed (for now)!
I would also say that our primary focus for startup hiring is London. We’re a tight-knit team and prefer having all of our engineers in one place – it’s easier to work through things this way and develop our product offering. However, in the long run I could definitely see us opening offices in other big financial sectors. This is still some way off, though!
What do you look for in an employee?
When hiring for our startup, we look for people that match our values and are excited about our vision of optimising the global economy. There are so many inefficiencies in the global economy and we want to eradicate (or at least reduce) these. If you embrace the value of our vision and are excited about the technologies we are building, then that’s a strong motivation for applying. Passion is, without a doubt, the most important thing!
We’re also growing extremely fast and as a result appreciate people that take initiative, are accountable and are driven. These are the people that bring huge value to CausaLens. How far we get is ultimately up to every individual that works here.
Additionally, we’re looking for people with scientific minds. Over 70% of our employees hold PhDs in quantitative fields, which should give you an indication of the technology we’re building and the employees we attract. Many of our engineers bring their research to our product and it has gotten better as a result. And if you’re not technically a developer but can still code as well, you’re a double threat! We don’t want to be a place where our research will be applied in 20 years, we want to build technology that can be applied now as this is where we can drive value.
We also look for people that are personable and friendly. We’re a tight-knit group (there are currently only 20 of us) and know each other really well. We often go out for drinks together and do things outside of work – so we look for people that want to get involved and become part of our startup family.
Do you have any advice for young people founding their own startup?
Be bold! And be ambitious. Founding your own startup takes a lot of time, patience and sleepless nights. It also requires you to make sacrifices. This is only really worth it if you’re building something that you’re passionate about and think can make a big impact. The VC world appreciates ingenuity and impactful ideas too, and is prepared to invest big in game changing technology.
So, set the bar high and make sure your startup idea contributes some greater idea/value to the world. Even if you fail (and 90% of startups do) it will be a great learning experience and you’ll cultivate resilience. You’ve got to adopt the mindset that the sky’s the limit and even if you don’t succeed – you’ll do your best!