Zetane’s mission is to make artificial intelligence safer, more trustworthy, explainable and reliable by developing software tools that are the gold standard for comprehensive testing and validation of artificial intelligence before they are deployed into the real world.
Zetane provides software tools and services for clients to test, verify, validate and explain complex AI solutions in the domain of machine learning and deep learning. We focus on high-risk industries where the consequences of an AI solution failing can have grave business, operational, or human consequences, such as in the medical, aerospace, defence, oil and gas, drones, and industrial robotics sectors. In sectors like these, decision-makers want to have a complete grasp of the risks associated with deploying AI solutions.
We base all our decisions on our core values. Our values are Engage Curiosity, Embrace Diversity, Remain Adaptable, Seek Highly Skilled Contributors, and Do Good Around Us. We value diversity and inclusivity as a key engine to innovation and team performance and we show a willingness to learn to ensure personal growth, group growth and organizational growth.
Tell us about yourself?
My background is somewhat varied. I am an aerospace engineer which served as an officer in the Canadian Air Force and have a strong background in aerospace and defence. When I left the Air Force, I joined a great Canadian company called CAE; a world leader in the use of simulation and training to improve the safety and efficiency of complex operations in commercial airlines, business aircraft operations, security, defence and healthcare.
While at CAE I was privileged to hold several roles such as Director of Engineering, VP of Commercial Aviation Training, VP of Training Center Operations, Founder and CEO of CAE Healthcare, CEO of CAE Presagis amongst others. These roles expanded my breadth and depth of various technologies, gave me international business experiences spanning all corners of the globe and provided very unique leadership challenges. I was responsible for launching or co-launching several new business initiatives as an intrapreneur and published a successful book on the subject (Wining at Intrapreneurship: 12 Labors To Overcome Corporate Culture and Achieve Startup Success).
After leaving CAE and Presagis, I launched my consulting business in planning and executing winning growth strategies (g3Point0 Consulting) and spent several years in the entrepreneurial domain as a mentor and coach to entrepreneurs. This included being active at one of Canada’s most successful tech accelerator called Founder Fuel, a globally recognized accelerator called Techstars, as Chairman of a very successful healthcare accelerator called CTS Health, and with several university incubators in Montreal. This exposure to so many new technologies and to brilliant, motivated and engaged entrepreneurs made me think that if the right opportunity came along, with a great team, I might want to launch a company. This opportunity came in 2018 in the form of Zetane and my brilliant co-founders, Patrick St-Amant (Chief Technology Officer) and Jonathan Magoon (Chief Product Officer), who are not only brilliant at what they do but are great human beings looking to do some good around them.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back a year or two, I would be in 2020 or 2021 and at the start of a global pandemic while getting a startup off the ground. We were faced with tough business decisions about ensuring the security of the jobs of our small team, keeping morale, maintaining focus on the product vision, and convincing clients to work with us despite the uncertainties in the markets.
My advice to myself would be, trust in your values and the culture you want to develop and use them as your compass. Double down on empathy for your clients, your partners, your colleagues and for yourself because all are facing tough times. Stay humble but find the right dose of conservatism and audacity.
What problem does your business solve?
One of the main problems in the deployment of complex AI solutions – typically in the domain of machine learning and deep learning – in high-risk environments is the general lack of trust and understanding of how these AI algorithms make their decisions and how they were trained. The industry has coined the term “AI Black Box” to describe this problem of the lack of transparency and explainability. In fact, it is well documented that 85% to 90% of AI projects in industries do not make it to deployment. Why? Because decision-makers, heads of operations, business leaders, accreditation bodies, potential clients and even the general public do not understand how these solutions and why they should be trusted, when they will work and when they will fail and because there is a general lack of proper testing and quality assurance of these solutions prior to deployment. In very pragmatic terms, you want to know when an autonomous vehicle will not perform well, or under what operational conditions a self-guided drone will run into trouble, or when a bias has been introduced in the data used to train a model that will decide if you get a bank loan or a job offer, or when an AI will make the wrong diagnostic on a medical image.
Zetane software solutions go right to the core of this problem by providing tools that completely eliminate the black box problems, make complex AI models easy to visualize, inspect, explain and understand, and by providing easy to access and easy-to-use software platforms to test, validate, verify the AI models and their data sets to fully understand their reliability and performance under real-world conditions.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Our business was inspired by realizing that AI solutions needed to be held to the same standard of quality assurance and scrutiny as any other technology we deploy into our lives to make important decisions or recommendations. After having researched the field of AI and working on many projects in collaboration with our clients in the Aerospace, Defense, Security, Oil and Gas, Energy, Construction and Medical fields, just to name a few, we realized that they were all facing the same problem. Running into the same wall. Not getting their projects approved or deployed because of the lack of explainability and understanding of what the AI was going to do and how it was doing it. We started solving that problem for them and realized we had developed a very unique set of tools that could be commercialized for everyone to use. We had the unique technology that allows us to manipulate, process and visualize large data sets and complex AI models and show how the data influences the models to arrive at its recommendations. In fact, we received patents in Canada and the US and have applied for new ones.
What is your magic sauce?
For one, we have worked on many AI projects with clients so know exactly what problems they are facing when deploying complex AI solutions in high-risk environments.
Second, our culture and our team. Our team is highly experienced and very very complementary and diversified, and from different fields of AI, engineering, technology, gaming and 3D which fuels incredible innovations.
Finally, at the heart of our software solutions is our patented technology which allows us to create human-understandable solutions for what are complex AI problems. There are no other products that eliminate the AI black-box problems, that make AI easy to understand, explain and challenge and that provide the level of scrutiny around comprehensive testing and exhaustive verification and validation. These human-understandable solutions give data scientists, machine learning engineers and AI team supervisors better tools to work more efficiently and save weeks and months on time to market and better understand and explain what they are doing. At the same time, our tools bridge the gap between AI experts and operational decision-makers (who are not AI experts) but that need to approve AI solutions prior to deploying them. Solutions displayed in Zetane are easy for non-AI experts to understand and question. This creates buy-in and trust. We have had many clients that used the term “Zetaning our AI” to describe how via Zetane, everything became clearer for all and allowed all stakeholders to collaborate around a final solution that would withstand the scrutiny to ensure trust and reliability.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
The next five years are about scaling the business and hyper-growth. We have over 4000 users of our software, we have several enterprise clients that trust us with important AI projects close to their core business, and we have had the support of important institutions such as Investissement Quebec, The National Research Center and IRAP, the Quebec Ministry of Finance and Innovation, Start-Up Montréal, and others. Now, we must scale the business globally and live our mission: to make artificial intelligence safer, more trustworthy, explainable and reliable by developing software tools that are the gold standard for comprehensive testing and validation of artificial intelligence before they are deployed into the real world.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge has been adjusting our course and expectations when the pandemic hit and being patient with clients as they were trying to figure out what to do in their own businesses. From a technology perspective, it has been to make the industry realize that there are ways to make AI safer via Zetane tools and that even a small company like Zetane can create great things because we take a different approach and are not stuck in legacy solutions like bigger companies might be. When people hear about what we are doing, they are skeptical, but when they see our solutions and demos for themselves, they are blown away and become great believers. We just need to have more people see Zetane’s solutions for themselves. So in a world that has become increasingly virtual and more dependent than ever on finding solutions via the internet, our biggest challenge is to be seen in a very crowded digital marketing world.
How can people get involved?
If you seek more trustworthy, understandable and robust AI, if you are struggling with getting your AI projects approved or deployed, if you are working on AI solutions to be deployed in a high-risk environment where the consequences of failure are seen to have important impacts on your operations, your business, your clients or the general public, or if you want to bring stronger governance around technology risk assessment and proper testing, validation and quality assurance of AI solutions, please call our CEO at 514-573-5464 or visit www.zetane.com.