AltaML Co-CEO Featured on The Founder Mindset Podcast

July 18, 2023 3 min read
AltaML Team
AltaML Team

In a recent episode of The Founder Mindset podcast, AltaML Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Nicole Janssen, joined host, Leah Sarich, to get candid about life as an entrepreneur, the hardships and rewards of running a startup, and the small wins that have fueled her passion for the fast-paced lifestyle. 

Janssen knew early on that she was “bound to be an entrepreneur,” especially since she grew up with one. 

“I actually blame Junior Achievement, if you can believe it,” she laughed. “All the way back in high school, I participated in the Junior Achievement company program, and my company built wooden piggy banks shaped like a bear. Now ignore the actual product,” Janssen quipped. “But the love of doing my own thing, being in charge of my destiny, betting on myself, came from that experience.” 

Janssen told Sarich that her mom also worked at a government-funded entity, and when the funding came to an end, she was asked by one of the main clients to start her own business.

“My mom was an entrepreneur by accident,” she said. 

But what really inspired Janssen was the “culture” her mom built within the company. 

“The agility, the grittiness, and the collaboration—she truly made it a place for people to learn and grow and come together.” 

Witnessing that form of leadership firsthand motivated Janssen to take a similar approach at AltaML. 

“While I know AltaML might be just a stopping point on people’s career trajectory, I hope it’s one that leaves an excellent mark on them.”

‘It’s Really Hard to Pass Up a Good Idea’

According to Janssen, AltaML builds artificial intelligence (AI) software, but in an “interesting way.” 

“We’ve got two sides to the business, and it keeps us hopping,” she laughed. 

“We have a venture studio model where one side of the business works in corporate labs with enterprise organizations in the private sector, as well as public sector organizations to go from ideation of AI use cases all the way to built out integrated solutions,” she explained. “On the other side of the business, we identify opportunities for commercialization and spin-off separate ventures and support those ventures in their growth.”

Sarich was quick to ask a follow-up question about what keeps Janssen driven as a founder and entrepreneur in a seemingly high-risk environment.

“There is something about betting on yourself where you truly are 100 percent only betting on you,” she responded. “Yes, you are surrounding yourself with the right team, but the buck stops with you.”

Janssen added there’s something really “empowering” when it all falls into place. But what’s the lure exactly? 

“I think it’s really hard to pass up a good idea,” she said. “It’s a fault of mine. It’s a little bit of ‘would they do it the right way?’”

While Janssen has dedicated her life to entrepreneurship and the idea of not being one is “simply not an option,” ultimately, the success of a company comes down to the team. 

“You can’t grow, you can’t get bigger, you can’t get better, if you don’t let others in.” 

‘The Reward on the Other Side Is so Sweet’

What does impact look like for you? Sarich asked.  

AltaML helps provide a platform to be an industry voice, Janssen said. It provides a platform for industry leaders, government, and academia to come together to showcase what Canada has to offer.

“The biggest thing for me is growing and supporting the growth of individuals and ecosystems that are maybe the underdog. I feel like Canada is the underdog in AI,” Janssen explained. “But, we have a real opportunity to grab a hold of the title of the global leader of responsible AI. I’ve been really pushing from where I can push at the federal level, the provincial level, and even the municipal level of what we are doing to grab a hold of that title.” 

What would you tell a young founder? Sarich ended. 

“This isn’t as glamorous as the movies make it seem,” Janssen said. “This is really, really hard, but the reward on the other side is so sweet.” 

Listen in on the conversation: The Founder Mindset with Nicole Janssen

Media Contact

Andrea Dion, Manager, Communications

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