Founder & CEO, NewtonX
Germain Chastel is the CEO and Founder of NewtonX, the world’s first AI-powered expert discovery engine. Germain is a graduate of Harvard Business School, and was formerly a partner with McKinsey & Company.
1. How did you get the idea for your company?
The idea for NewtonX formed when I was with McKinsey & Company, and realized that there was a massive pain point both in the management consulting industry and across enterprise organizations: Access to expert knowledge from C-suite executives, global influencers or niche subject matter experts didn’t exist in the market. My colleagues and I consistently needed reliable data from highly specific populations to effectively do our jobs, but had no way of accessing this data at scale. Additionally, I often needed this access under tight time constraints, but no firm in the market would be able to give me the access I needed by my deadline. In this, I saw a missed opportunity for automation – the industry is a perfect use case for AI today.
I founded the company in 2017 with COO Sascha Eder, who was my colleague at McKinsey, and CTO Anuja Ketan, who is one of the most accomplished technologists I’ve ever met. Together, we’ve built an expert discovery engine that leverages robotic process automation and a proprietary knowledge graph to connect clients with the data and insights they need.
2. Why did you decide to found your company in New York?
Our client base tends to be on the East Coast or in Europe, and we decided it was more important for our team to be close to our clients than to be close to the startup ecosystem in Silicon Valley. We figured if we focused on being a client-driven organization, capital and talent would follow, regardless of our HQ. This turned out to be true, and it was a nice surprise to discover that there is a wealth of untapped tech talent in NYC.
3. What’s the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
When I was an aspiring entrepreneur, my mentor told me that the most essential quality for entrepreneurs to possess is not perseverance or intelligence; it’s resilience. Every entrepreneur makes mistakes, and you will always have someone upset with you — whether it’s a client, a vendor, or an employee. Entrepreneurs need to know how to effectively manage their mistakes without internalizing failures.
4. Favorite book?
I have two favorite books: 1984 and 1Q43. Both books are quite timely in the context of data privacy issues, fake news, and the shifting media landscape.