Founded in 2015 by Daghan Cam and Michail Desyllas, Ai Build closed a $1M seed round earlier this year to bring their AI-powered platform AiSync to automotive brands, Formula 1 teams and, through the ATI Boeing Accelerator, the aerospace sector.
We sat down with Daghan and Michail to hear about the early days of their startup journey, reflect on their experience on the programme, and find out how Ai Build is making additive manufacturing efficient for a more sustainable aerospace industry.
Explain your product in one sentence
AiSync is an AI-powered software that makes additive manufacturing efficient, unlike traditional 3D printing which is error-prone and laborious.
What problem is Ai Build solving in the aerospace industry?
Sustainability in Aerospace is becoming key for the future of the industry and additive manufacturing is the enabler of a truly sustainable cycle of the economy. Unlike traditional means of manufacturing, which result in a lot of material waste, 3D printing works by selectively depositing material to produce strong, lightweight parts with minimal material use. On the other hand, 3D printing technology is error-prone, which makes it very difficult to be used on safety-critical applications.
The quality of 3D printed parts depends heavily on the process knowledge and experience of machine operators who will be manually optimising their machine instructions by a lot of trial and error. That is the problem we are solving at Ai Build. We are replacing unreliable human labour with smart algorithms and data to make additive manufacturing efficient for more sustainable aerospace industry.
You’ve recently raised $1M in seed funding. What would be your single biggest piece of advice for founders starting their fundraising journey?
Build a product that is great and make the investors hear about it from your customers.
What are some of your predictions for additive manufacturing and 3D printing in 2021?
Although the additive manufacturing industry is growing rapidly, the technologies have not matured enough yet to reach their full potential in terms of applications and use cases. In 2021 there will be an increased number of mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships which will enable more complete products that are ready to deliver on the promise of additive manufacturing, which is about sustainable, distributed manufacturing and mass customisation.
“Maintaining a good cofounder relationship relies on a professional attitude, respect, and being transparent with each other.”
How did your team come together in 2015? What is the most important lesson you would share about maintaining a good co-founder relationship?
A good co-founder relationship is key to the success of any business. Both of us have been working in this space for over 10 years. Through our experience in construction, professionally and academically, we shared a common passion for additive technologies but also a common frustration about the bottleneck large-scale additive manufacturing is facing today, which is the high failure rates due to lack of automation.
For us, our maintaining a good cofounder relationship relies on a professional attitude, respect, and being transparent with each other. Any idea is open for discussion within our team as long as it is aimed to serve the purpose of Ai Build, which is to make manufacturing efficient.
“Help your mentors help you by being extremely specific about what you are trying to achieve.”
How do you find (and keep) diverse tech talent for your company?
Coming to London from different countries ourselves we have naturally implanted a culture of diversity into our company. Although the software industry is highly homogenised in terms of tech talent, our product involves many different disciplines from generative design to data engineering, material science, and robotics, which appeals to quite different groups of people, making it easier for us to attract and retain a diverse team.
What’s been the greatest learning from your startup journey so far?
Most companies start with a business plan, while we founded Ai Build with an intellectual desire to build a technology that we dreamed of — a fully autonomous factory of the future for sustainable manufacturing. It took us some years to understand that it is difficult, if not impossible, to reach our goals as a business, by being product-obsessed in isolation from the market. This is a basic fact but it is too tempting in practice to not be driven by the customer needs as much as our curiosity. We are now equally customer-obsessed as we are product-obsessed, shaping the future of manufacturing together with our innovative customers in aerospace and automotive.
What benefit did the ATI Boeing Accelerator bring to Ai Build?
The ATI Boeing Accelerator was a very well-organised programme that put us in front of the highest level stakeholders in the aerospace industry for candid feedback which could have taken us years without the acceleration. We gained a deep understanding of how the industry operates and identified potential business opportunities for Ai Build in a short period of time.
What piece of advice would you give to founders looking to join an accelerator?
Help your mentors help you by being extremely specific about what you are trying to achieve.