A Startup Beats the Odds

Jordan Manning (second from left) and his team.

University of Central Florida graduate student Jordan Manning and his startup, Abe AI, have beat the odds and are headed to South Africa.

The Orlando based startup was one of ten applicants out of more than a thousand competitive groups to be selected to participate in the Barclays Accelerator. Of those ten only two were based in the U.S.

Barclays Accelerator is a global program that helps startups gain momentum by providing them with a reservoir of training, mentors, experts, investors and funding. The accelerator is backed by Techstars, which is a large international network that is focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed by pairing them with industry leaders. Techstars’ companies have raised billions in funds and are continuing to grow.

Less than 1% of all companies that apply to the Techstars programs are accepted, so for this Orlando based startup being selected was a big deal.

The application to join the accelerator program is a rigorous process with over a dozen essay questions asking about the company’s team, logistics, the product and the dynamic. Thousands of applications are received and the top ten are picked after three months. Techstars is looking for startups that solve real problems or create meaningful innovations. They want a well-rounded team that can really make a difference.

Manning’s startup, Abe AI, is the industry’s leading AI platform for banking. The system uses conversational technology, financial analytics and artificial intelligence to transform data into insights that empower banks and their customers to become stronger together.

Manning’s journey with Abe AI started small, but is now turning into something big. He was one of the first employees to join the company when there were only four employees. Currently, Abe AI has 16 full-time employees and the company has raised more than $1 million from private investors.

“A simple email from the UCF statistics department to all students had information on the startup and an opportunity to join,” he said. “I was immediately interested and met with the CEO and interviewed with the whole company. I was excited about the work they were doing and couldn’t wait to join the team.”

Since Abe AI is still a small startup, Manning has a plethora of responsibilities and titles.

“My official role is data scientist but I have some say in more areas,” he explained. “In a nutshell, I take data, clean it up and combine different aspects of the data to create new data. Then I feed it to an algorithm, and let it figure out patterns.”

This was an amazing opportunity to be presented to a local organization and when it comes to giving advice to fellow students, Manning had this to say.

“Although GPA is important to some companies, don’t let it dictate the way you learn,” he said. “In other words, learn for the sake of learning, not to optimize a number that holds little weight in the long term. Dedicate time to personal projects outside of class that demonstrate your ability to execute.”

To learn more about Abe AI click here.

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