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HZ Banking Interview: Blackrock vs. Aisot Asset AI

ETH spin-off aisot's AI for asset management is transforming the world of investment strategies. It's more than just assistance in investing - Aisot Technologies is spearheading a groundbreaking fintech revolution.

Source: Interview Andreas Minor, HZ Banking, translated from German, published January 19, 2024. 

aisot images 1200x600 HZ Banking Jan 2024

Photo: Andreas Minor, HZ Banking


Four Zurich entrepreneurs, with their ETH spin-off, are setting out to ignite a fintech revolution. Their AI solution competes with investment giant Blackrock and its AI solution, Aladdin. The Zurich startup Aisot has developed a platform equipped with artificial intelligence that assists institutional investors in planning, validating, and rebalancing their investment strategies – in real time.


“Kleine Freiheit”, Big Project
In "Kleine Freiheit", a Zurich tavern, three ETH specialists made a decision in 2019 to embark on their long-term project: an AI solution for the finance industry and the founding of a startup. Last week – approximately four years later – Aisot Technologies launched their Asset AI for institutional investors. CEO and Co-Founder Stefan Klauser aims to develop Aisot into the world's largest independent provider of an Asset AI. The founders of the ETH spin-off are confident: their tool has the potential to revolutionize the way of investing. HZ Banking had a few more questions to ask:

Andreas Minor: Stefan Klauser, have you always been a computer nerd?
Stefan Klauser: No (smiles), but since my childhood, I have always enjoyed organizing and building things. As a teenager, I organized sports events in my community. Later, in my professional career, I discovered my interest in entrepreneurship.

Andreas Minor: Was there a specific moment, an epiphany?
Stefan Klauser: I really first noticed it when I was working internationally in innovation collaboration. With Sandra Tobler, who also has a startup now, I organized the first fintech trips to events. When I saw all the fintech startups in London, something clicked…

Andreas Minor: But first, your path led you to ETH Zurich.
Stefan Klauser: Yes, initially I landed at ETH Zurich, where I led a project and thus met very talented computer scientists. I exchanged ideas with them, and together we decided to start a startup. The division of tasks was clear from the beginning: they contributed their computer expertise, and I brought in my entrepreneurship.

Andreas Minor: Originally, you studied something completely different, right?
Stefan Klauser: Originally, I'm a political scientist. I specialized in the political economy of developing and emerging countries. I worked at Presence Switzerland, where I learned a lot about branding and marketing. Afterward, I moved into innovation promotion. Here, I dealt a lot with startups, innovative companies, and universities. I represented Switzerland at the OECD's Global Science Forum. At ETH, I led a blockchain project. In 2016/17, I attended "Fintech and Futures of Market" at MIT. The experiences I gained there are helpful to me today. The participants were spread around the world, across all time zones, and we had to complete projects together under time pressure.

Andreas Minor: You didn't see one problem coming: Shortly after founding Aisot Technologies, the Corona pandemic hit.
Stefan Klauser: Yes (frowns), my first official day as CEO of Aisot Technologies was March 15, 2020, the day of the lockdown.

Andreas Minor: What led you and your co-founders to the idea of Asset AI?
Stefan Klauser: Initially, we had some idea of what we could do. But in the end, it was a very clear moment: The two machine learning specialists and co-founders, Nino and Tian, used structured and unstructured data to make better volatility predictions. Back then, they relied on Bitcoin due to the better availability of data. Their paper attracted interest. They were invited to a data machine learning conference in Singapore. There, many people approached them because their AI predictions could halve the error rate.

Andreas Minor: And then?
Stefan Klauser: They came back and asked, "Stefan, what do we do with this?" We asked a few people if there was interest in our solutions. They said: Definitely. We decided to develop an independent machine learning platform for the finance industry.

Andreas Minor: Over an after-work beer?
Stefan Klauser: We went across the street to the neighborhood pub "Kleine Freiheit" and actually had a beer. In "Kleine Freiheit," we agreed on what commitment it would be. Everyone was aware that we were committing for years.

Andreas Minor: Nice story. And how is it going?
Stefan Klauser: We are continuously building up. Two-thirds of our customers are from Switzerland, one-third from abroad.

Andreas Minor: Who currently uses the Aisot AI?
Stefan Klauser: For example, we have a crypto asset manager from Switzerland, a family office from Finland, and clients in the USA. In another use case, our solution is integrated into a client's digital environment.

Andreas Minor: This company integrates your AI platform into their tools?
Stefan Klauser: Exactly. Everything runs through integration into existing systems.

Andreas Minor: In addition to the US market, the European and Asian markets will soon be integrated into your AI platform. But what about the clients?
Stefan Klauser: Aisot has some things in the pipeline in the UK, Luxembourg, and Germany. Additionally, we are moving towards the Middle East and Asia in the coming months. There, the willingness to experiment with new technologies is generally higher than here.

Andreas Minor: How many employees does Aisot have today?
Stefan Klauser: The core team consists of ten people at eight full-time positions. Six of these eight full-time positions are in Zurich. Two employees are in New York and Zagreb.

Andreas Minor: Building a startup requires immense resources.
Stefan Klauser: Yes, but we are very capital efficient. In Switzerland, you don't find 10 million Francs in investments right from the start. For that, we would have to go to the USA. But we are here in Zurich and started with around 2.5 million Francs. First, we need to generate more customers. If we succeed in that, it will help us take the next step.

Andreas Minor: Who owns Aisot Technologies AG today?
Stefan Klauser: It is primarily owned by the founders and the management.

Andreas Minor: Suppose a tech giant comes along and puts a large sum of money on the table. How tempting is it to take it?
Stefan Klauser: Of course, that makes you start thinking. We are committed to the company as a board and management. It's about whether a partner brings the company into a better position. Whether it helps Aisot progress. Our goal is not to make a quick exit but to build a company that is a global leader.

Andreas Minor: What is your wish?
Stefan Klauser: That in five years, Aisot Technologies is the largest independent provider of AI solutions for professional and institutional investors.



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