Founder Forward • Episode 8

Optimatik & Forethought:

Building Generative AI Companies In a Rapidly Evolving Market

Hosted by Kate Barrett and Vanessa LarcoAug 02, 2023

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On this episode, Mandela Patrick, Co-Founder and CEO of Optimatik, an AI company that harnesses data-driven insights to optimize high-quality creatives for brands, speaks with host Kate Barrett about building something new in an already noisy field, the value of tapping into your own trusted network, and the powerful ways new tools can democratize access to technology. Throughout the conversation Deon Nicholas, Co-Founder and CEO of Forethought, the leading generative AI for customer support, and NEA Partner Vanessa Larco share their thoughts about building a business in a volatile, highly competitive market, cultivating intentional growth through careful prioritization, and the difficult decisions founders have to make during tough times. Tune in to hear what inspired Mandela and Deon to become founders, how they’re leveraging the hype around AI to hire top talent, and how generative AI is empowering people to be more efficient, productive and creative.

“By and large, it is you as a founder, as a CEO, that's gonna set the culture. It's your strengths and weaknesses that are gonna actually blend in and become the strengths and weaknesses of the organization."

— Deon Nicholas - Co-Founder & CEO, Forethought

Topics covered on todays episode

  • What led these founders to generative AI long before the hype

  • Company building in a volatile, rapidly evolving market

  • Filtering out the noise to hire for the long term

  • How new tools are democratizing access to technology

Guests on today's episode

Kate Barrett speaks with:


Mandela Patrick


Co-Founder and CEO

Mandela Patrick is Co-Founder and CEO of Optimatik, the creative AI company that leverages data-driven insights to create and optimize high-quality creatives for your brand using AI. On this episode, Mandela chats with host, Kate Barrett, about why starting a company felt like a natural evolution for this first time founder, what it's like to build something new in a very hot space, and the value of a trusted network.

Vanessa Larco speaks with:


Deon Nicholas


Co-Founder and CEO

Deon Nicholas is Co-Founder and CEO of Forethought, a generative AI company providing customer service automation that helps support teams maximize efficiency and productivity. On this episode, Deon chat's with Forethought board member, Vanessa Larco, about the exploding mainstream adoption of generative AI, how to find investors who will truly have your back, and the importance of knowing your weaknesses.