What does a typical day look like for you?
When your daily life is as a startup founder, basically no day is similar to any other. Every day is different in a unique way. One day, I may be sitting down with our team discussing for hours about our Product Development Process, attending an event about AI, Immigration, Legal Technology or any other occasion close to our industry, presenting in front of diverse audiences sharing why we do what we do. Another day I may be talking with our advisers, meeting with potential investors or attending competitions such as Jusoor Disruptor Labs.
One thing does not change, though: almost every day I interact with our clients from different countries to hear their situation and needs to be able to understand the process manually before we automate anything and connect them with suitable lawyers if they need it. Living an entrepreneur life is both colorful, challenging, and very dynamic. Discovering how we can assist the person who we have never met in our lives through technology is fascinating.
How did you come up with the idea to use artificial intelligence to help newcomers integrate and – settle in their new homes?
I moved to Canada in 2014 from Azerbaijan. When I came for my master’s studies in business I faced an issue with my visa, and my study permit was late. I applied through paper application at that time, and there was no way to track my application, and we did not have an embassy of Canada in Azerbaijan. All the documents needed to go to Ankara, Turkey for approval. I was calling them and even sent my friend in Turkey to check on the status, but they could only say my application was being processed. It was a very anxious time for me, I was already late to school for a week, and my friends and colleagues had already thrown me a farewell party. I did not know whether I would be able to make it to Canada. I spent 7 sleepless nights wondering. Finally, after I got here, and completed my studies, I had no idea how to apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit. Later, I had similar issues with my Permanent Residence application.
I realized after that, the entire immigration process seems complicated and a true struggle for newcomers. That’s why I joined Founders Institute with the simple idea – “to help immigrants”. After that we started to talk with our potential clients, mentors supported us, and things started to evolve by itself.
We are solving this issue through a chatbot solution powered by Artificial Intelligence technology, not because it is fancy, but simply out of the necessity”. Because for a human being to answer millions of questions is impossible. Our AI-powered chatbot makes life easier for both immigrants and lawyers. We make the immigration process much more transparent, smoother, and less stressful.
The best part is that our team is made up of immigrants.
We live with this problem every single day as a team in our lives
and that’s just a journey we are going through now.
Why do you think this will help Canada create a more inclusive society?
Basically, according to the Statistics Canada research, the way things are going, by 2035 more than 30% of the population will be immigrants. This issue must be tackled because as the Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen recently announced that just next year 300,000 people will be able to resettle in Canada. There should be a better way to assist those people to find their way here.
We also need to make sure that we can assist people who would like to get a better education, increase their living standard, and also realize their dreams. Helping people from different countries, ethnicities, linguistic communities, and skill sets, and easing their life to come to Canada, is a beautiful vision. That’s the beauty of this country – people can live in peace no matter what their professional or personal background is. It used to be that immigrants thought they needed to go to the US to live the American Dream. Now we are living in a time where people would like to experience the Canadian dream. Because it’s about political stability, harmony, and mutual respect. That’s what attracts the immigrants a lot.
What does winning Jusoor Disruptor lab mean for Destin AI?
When we joined Jusoor, FI and Techstars Toronto Director Sunil Sharma recommended we apply, and I was honored to present in front of outstanding judges – Aisha Bukhari, Hussam Ayyad, and Tariq Fancy. To be able to present was important for us because the audience was so diverse, most of the people there were immigrants themselves. After my presentation, many people approached and told me that this is a very sensitive and important topic for them since they experienced similar problems and simply they loved the idea. And we got the 1st place out of the 35 startups that applied. It is very rewarding. After that, we had an hour of virtual conversation with Jusoor Dubai Board Member & Director of Entrepreneurship Program, Dania Ismail, and we got invited to DMZ as well. Competitions like that are a great opportunity to support entrepreneurs like me and assist us to move the startup to the next level. That’s why it was a big moment for us.
What’s the next step after launching destin.ai?
Right now, we are in the product development process. In the near future, with our chatbot, people will be able to detect their eligibility for any kind of immigration program, get answers to their questions, and connect people with the lawyer they want. Product Development will be always ongoing, we will always innovate and create new solutions which will meet our clients’ needs.
Regarding our future goals, we would like to be the first touch point for people who would like to move to Canada for now. After completion of this step successfully, we will start supporting newcomers inside Canada as well and eventually will expand the similar model to different countries.
Last but not least, If you are an immigration lawyer, an investor, an individual who wants to move to Canada, journalist or just enthusiastic about what we do feel free to message me through firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are always open to having a conversation with interested parties.
Kitty Shephard is the director of communications and outreach for Welcome Home TO