Finding a Co-Founder: Herve and Misha

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Herve and Misha met on our Singapore programme in 2018 and founded Quod AI, a search engine to help engineers navigate their codebase.

Was the EF programme what you expected?

Misha: 

My experience before joining EF was purely academic, so I expected everything to be very different, and indeed it was. Herve and EF really eased my transition into the startup world.

I was already interested in startups, and had started two projects while working at Nanyang Technological University, but my co-founders weren’t ready to commit. Plus, I needed help figuring out which problem to solve in the ‘real world’. I had experience in obtaining grants for fundamental and applied research problems, but the aims, mechanisms and execution paths in entrepreneurship are very different.

Herve:

Before joining, I knew that picking the right co-founder was key to the success of this adventure. I had a high bar for my co-founder. I would have rather left with nothing than to start a company with someone that I didn’t have great admiration for. I found that person in Misha.

I’d joined the programme expecting it to be intense but fun, which it was – our kick-off weekend felt like Spring Break but with grown ups. 

What were you hoping to work on at EF?

Herve:

I wanted to work on a hard and ambitious problem at EF: scaling software engineering teams using Deep Tech.

Many tech companies face the daunting challenge of managing exponentially increasing complexity of software engineering. Software is still eating the world. With that, came a lot of pressure for software engineering teams to deliver faster, better and more complex solutions. We’re victims of our own success!

 

What are you working on now?

Misha:

We’ve built the first AI powered search engine for source code. When we started, a lot of what we were hoping for was theoretical and we weren’t sure that it was going to be feasible. Today, we boast many cutting edge Deep Learning models and a product that has received tremendous feedback from the developer community.

How did you come together as co-founders?

Herve:

Often, the cohort tries to meet up before the programme even starts, so Misha and I had met a few times. I had a shortlist of co-founders that I was interested in working with, and Misha was in my top three.

Misha and I found common ground in improving the education system. We had a lot of shared values. We’ve been through some tough times together, but we never broke up, and have been co-founders for almost 2 years.

Misha came from a pure academic background with over 10 years of experience, whereas I came from a pure startup background. In terms of pace, we came from opposite ends of the spectrum. When that became challenging, like any relationship, what saved us was transparency and open communication.

What do you think your company would be like if you didn’t have each other?

Herve: 

Our company wouldn’t exist. Misha is one of the few people that could have tackled the data science behind our technology.

Misha:

Agreed – I don’t think the company would exist without both of our skill sets coming together. Before, EF I was trying to initiate a spin-off company at NTU, so I’d probably be combining research with that now, but I don’t think I could have had anywhere near the impact.

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