Our Start-up of the Week is Dublin-based Unitek.AI, which provides intelligent automation solutions to financial services companies.
Unitek.AI is an Irish start-up that provides intelligent automation data analytics solutions to financial services companies. Some of the services offered by the company are document data extraction, intelligent data entry and process automation.
The Dublin-based start-up targets what it describes as the three main roadblocks to optimising straight-through processing: paper-based systems, human involved processes and legacy technologies.
We spoke to Unitek.AI’s co-founder and CEO, Martin Brown, who told us a bit more about the company’s platform, which requires no coding and can be set up for a financial services company to use in a matter of weeks.
Brown has 20 years’ experience working in financial services, developing “large-scale change programs for some of the biggest brands in financial services”.
“More recently, I held global roles within the AI and automation space. It has been that convergence of AI and my previous experience in financial services, insurance and banking work that has led to Unitek.AI,” he told Siliconrepublic.com.
‘We’re looking for companies where innovation is at the core. Rather than being random and sporadic, we’re focused and targeted’
– MARTIN BROWN
Brown is targeting businesses operating in insurance, retail banking and financial services. “Then there’s alternative lenders, outside of traditional retail banks too,” he added. “They’re new as companies, but they still experience many of the same legacy problems that those traditional insurers and traditional banks experience.”
Unitek.AI aims to accelerate digital transformation for businesses in that space and, since it was founded in 2018, the company has already begun doing that for insurance and banking organisations in the UK and Ireland.
Expansion and growth
By 2020, the business plans to expand into Germany, where it has previously worked with Open Grid Europe – one of Germany’s largest gas transmission grid operators.
“They would be a €6bn company. They engaged with us in February to support them on a large digitisation project, which on an estimated trajectory could take them 10 years to complete,” Brown said.
“They engaged with us on a pilot basis, to see if we could solve a specific problem for them in their digital transformation journey, and we successfully completed that three-month pilot.”
Unitek.AI, which is recognised by Enterprise Ireland as a high potential start-up, has also worked with Flender, a peer-to-peer lending service for SMEs.
“Flender is almost like a start-up in its own right, in terms of the problems the team were having,” Brown said.
“It was around document processing and being able to get a quick decision in the credit space. We’ve been able to significantly reduce the time it takes to process these documents, from 50 minutes to just a few minutes.”
In its Dublin HQ, Unitek.AI currently has 12 employees, with plans to grow the team in the coming months. “That will support us in terms of our exports into the UK and into Germany. By the end of 2020, we hope to be at 20 people,” Brown added.
When asked about the challenges he has faced while getting his business off the ground, Brown joked: “How long do you have?”
“There’s always challenges. One big challenge was trying to access companies. That was the first hurdle, but we overcame that quite quickly and we identified the personas that we knew would be able to accelerate the transformation process.
“We’re looking for companies where innovation is at the core. Rather than being random and sporadic, we’re focused and targeted. This is what helped us get to where we are now in such a short amount of time.”
Finding and obtaining the right talent can also be a challenge for tech start-ups, he added. “There’s a skills shortage in areas like data science. We’ve almost had to come up with a process for how to identify people who are the right fit for us. It can be hard to convince people why they should work for a new start-up, rather than working for Google.”
Although it’s still early days, the start-up has received recognition for its work so far. Recently, Unitek.AI took home silver for its performance in the emerging tech category and bronze in the fintech category at the National Startup Awards.
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