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Welcome to another episode of Category Visionaries, the show that explores the future of tech with innovative B2B founders. In today’s episode, we’re speaking with Harry Xu, CEO and Co-Founder of Breeze ML, an AI governance platform that has raised $4.6 million in funding.

  • Harry’s background as a computer science professor at UCLA and UC Irvine, and his experience working on education research and building machine learning systems.
  • The misconceptions about life as an academic, and the similarities between running a research lab and a startup, including the need to secure funding and nurture students.
  • The decision to start Breeze ML with co-founder Ravi Netravali, driven by a desire to produce real-world impact and push technology into actual products.
  • The challenge of raising seed funding in March 2022 amidst a market downturn, and the unexpected speed at which generative AI and chatbots have captured public attention.
  • Breeze ML’s focus on providing AI governance tools that enable compliance with emerging regulations like the EU AI Act, which carries significant fines for non-compliance.
  • The broad applicability of AI governance across industries, with sectors like healthcare and finance already facing strict regulations around model training, data collection, and bias prevention.
  • The importance of having numerous conversations with stakeholders in different roles to guide product development and identify the most pressing problems to solve.
  • The dual nature of AI governance as both an existing market and an emerging one, with a need for concrete tools and solutions to help companies navigate the regulatory landscape.
  • The lessons learned from fundraising, including the importance of timing, preparedness, and paving the way with team assembly, IP clearance, and customer validation before approaching investors.
  • Harry’s vision for Breeze ML to become the leading AI governance platform in both the US and EU markets within the next 3-5 years, serving most large companies.


Identify Regulatory Tailwinds:

By focusing on the emerging need for AI governance driven by regulations like the EU AI Act, Breeze ML was able to position itself as a critical solution for companies seeking to achieve compliance and avoid hefty fines. Founders should look for similar regulatory tailwinds that can create urgency and demand for their products.

Validate the Problem Through Diverse Conversations:

Harry and his team engaged in numerous conversations with stakeholders across different roles and industries to validate the need for AI governance and identify the most pressing pain points. By casting a wide net and listening closely to potential customers, founders can ensure that they are solving a real and significant problem.

Be Prepared to Pivot Based on Market Feedback:

While many companies rushed to capitalize on the hype around large language models, Breeze ML chose to focus on the broader and more enduring challenge of AI governance based on the insights gained from their customer conversations. Founders must be willing to pivot their strategies based on market feedback, even if it means deviating from the latest trends.

Pave the Way for Fundraising Success:

Harry emphasizes the importance of preparing for fundraising well in advance by assembling a strong team, clearing potential IP issues, conducting customer surveys, and building an MVP. By laying this groundwork early, founders can increase their chances of securing investment when the time is right.

Aim for Category Leadership in Multiple Markets:

Breeze ML's long-term vision is to become the leading AI governance platform in both the US and EU markets, recognizing the global nature of the problem they are solving. Founders should similarly aim to establish category leadership across multiple geographies to maximize their impact and growth potential.

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