Lin Ching-yung was once chief scientist at IBM’s prestigious research headquarters, the Thomas J. Watson Research Center.
He never imagined that one day he would found a company in the U.S. but after working for IBM for 17 years, he started to see entrepreneurship opportunities.
He founded Graphen one year ago offering advanced AI technologies based on graphs. The company’s website says graphs play a key role in mimicking the human experience of intelligence.
Lin recently shared his experience of being a U.S.-based Taiwanese entrepreneur with Business Next at his firm’s New York headquarters.
The main thing Taiwanese entrepreneurs need to know is that they should not solve industrial problems by offering existing solutions that everyone’s already heard of, Lin said.
Instead, startup founders need to think deeply and outside-the-box to come up with original solutions that exceed both customers’ and the markets’ expectations, Lin said.
In addition, Taiwanese founders should locate their businesses in target markets that are abundant with talent.
Giving Graphen as an example, Lin said he chose to locate his company in New York as his company is a technology startup that creates AI solutions for the financial industry.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that New York is the perfect place for us to launch because it’s the financial capital of the world,” Lin said.
“Graphen’s success comes partly because its AI talent hails from the computer science departments of top-tier American universities.”
Lin said he was endeavoring to create unique AI technologies to help major banks counter money laundering.
“Large banks are …facing challenges such as countering laundering and debt management. These are the bank’s key ‘pain points’ that still need to be solved,” Lin said.
“It’s important to ask yourself: is your solution solving a real ‘pain point’?”
Many major banks are looking to startups to for new technology in response to the cutting-edge technologies used by American regulators and other government officials to catch banks that are not following the rules.
This follows a series of scandals. Last year, Deutsche Bank was fined US$10 billion for its involvement in a Russian money-laundering scheme. Taiwan’s Mega Bank also got fined US$29 million by the US Federal Reserve for violating an anti-money laundering act in January.
Lin noted that top U.S. banks are more interested in collaborating with startups than smaller banks in order to keep up with the latest technology and competition.
“In New York, the bigger the banks are, the faster they rush in. In part, it’s because they can’t afford to slow down. It’s a highly competitive environment. They need to innovate as fast as they can. You will find that only small and medium-sized banks are conservative and reluctant to change,”Lin said.
Founded in June last year, the firm’s success in part comes from Lin’s extensive industry experience and his well-established reputation in both the IT industry and the financial services sector.
Graphen develops AI-powered financial technology platforms for a number of purposes that include monitoring of core banking functions, loan risk prediction and anti-money laundering. There’s also AI-enabled regulation and compliance, fraud detection, market intelligence and AI trading.
“Artificial Intelligence technologies quickly evolve. Inspired by the human brain being a graph of billions of nodes and trillions of edges, our R&D has focused on achieving AI through novel graph computing foundations since mid 2000s,”Lin said.
“With a graph structure, computers can better emulate the full function of human brains, including memory, sensing, recognition, perception, comprehension, and strategy,”
Besides his role at Graphen, Lin has also been an adjunct professor at Columbia University since 2005 and at New York University since 2014.
Headquartered in New York, Graphen. currently has branches and subsidiaries in Taipei, Hong Kong, Beijing, Singapore, and Austin.