Intrical AI, a startup founded by 3 UvA alumni, builds company profiles for corporate finance on the basis of AI. The product has now achieved the status of MVP (minimal viable product), with ABN AMRO as the 'launching customer'.
Intrical AI was established in 2020 by Irina Kulizhnikova, Gabriele Bani and Alvise Sembenico, who had just finished university at the time. The company emerged from AI Startup Lab, an initiative of ACE (Amsterdam Centre for Entrepreneurship) that supports university students and graduates as well as tech professionals with their entrepreneurial endeavours. As Kulizhnikova explains: 'Gabriele and Alvise have a Master’s degree in AI and I have an MSc Business Administration from Amsterdam Business School. We each have our own area of interest. Gabriele has a research background and really wanted to put theory into practice and Alvise was keen to take up the entrepreneurial challenge. I myself was curious to see how AI could support the provision of financial services.'
At AI Startup Lab, companies address new issues in the area of AI and create student teams to solve the problems. 'This is how we came together as a team in March 2020. Some 12 weeks later, we had a prototype and, soon after, a Chamber of Commerce registration. It actually felt a bit strange. 1 moment we were students and the next we were entrepreneurs.' The challenge came from ABN Amro, which was looking for a tool to assess the suitability of companies as targets for mergers and acquisitions. 'This is a very complex area, requiring accurate data. We quickly realised it would be better to start on a somewhat smaller scale. What we offered was a tool to help analysts at ABN Amro collect and structure data.'
The answer Intrical AI came up with was a Software-as-a-Service solution with AI components. 'We use machine learning to extract business knowledge from texts', Kulizhnikova points out. 'More specifically, we scrape texts and news in order to update company profiles and produce a market summary for corporate finance.' For the world of corporate finance, it is a big step forward because even today company profiles are generally put together manually. 'An automated platform allows us to reduce the time needed to create and maintain company profiles so that analysts can process information more quickly and give better advice.'
Last autumn, the Intrical AI team had the pleasure of receiving Ingrid van Engelshoven, Secretary of State for Education, Culture and Science, at their office in Startup Village Amsterdam. 'We talked about AI, our product and our goals as well as what AI can do to further help financial organisations,' says Kulizhnikova. 'For us, the project with ABN Amro is a wonderful opportunity to come to grips with what is crucial for a large company and to develop something that will solve a problem and generate a competitive advantage.'
So what’s next? 'The active development of our MVP now takes centre stage. We are currently in the testing phase with ABN Amro. But we are also looking ahead to possibilities of working together with various other parties. The application of AI to financial data has huge potential. I for one am truly convinced that accurate prediction for mergers and acquisitions is realistic for the future. It is also going well with our business and we have already expanded our team with data scientists on work placements. Our participation in AI Startup Lab has given us a great start. Unfortunately, last year’s programme was conducted online because of the COVID-19 pandemic but we had good mentors and access to the right people and knowledge. Even now that we are no longer part of the programme, we can still go to them with questions. That says a lot about the atmosphere: they all want us to succeed.'