When Vince Gaydarzhiev was a kid, his family thought he would become a violinist. That was until they bought him his first computer. Then a hardware engineer was born. Vince was not excited to play video games as every other kid. He wanted to wire, to create things that would be useful to others.
Today, Vince Gaydarzhiev is the founder of the US-Bulgarian company Alcatraz AI. The hardware-as-a-service startup offers autonomous access control that uses facial biometrics, 3D sensing, and AI and recently closed a $25M Series A round.
Among the customers of Alcatraz AI are Fortune 500 companies, including telecoms and government-owned banks.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Vince worked as an engineer for high-profile companies like Apple and Nvidia. He holds several engineering degrees from Stanford and the universities of Southern California and Florida.
In his conversation with Irina, 39-years old Vince Gaydarzhiev tells the story of his many transitions – from Bulgaria to the US, from an engineer to founder, from the automotive to the security industry.
“The best technology is magical, one that doesn’t require any guide or knowledge to use it”, Vince believes. But to make this magic happens you need to iterate every week, to constantly improve until you’ve come close enough to perfection.
This is what he strives for with Alcatraz AI, but what he also learned working on projects for visionary companies like Tesla and Apple.
In the episode, Vince opens up about his struggles as a solo founder, the hardships of fundraising for a hardware-as-as-service company, and the complexities of transforming the security industry.
“It matters if you hear a couple of No’s every week or if you hear 50 No’s every week. You start doubting yourself, the business model, the industry, and life in general,” Vince shares.
In the process, he learned to trust his gut and find motivation and joy in the little things in life like spending time with the people he loves or walking his dogs.
Vince Gaydarzhiev tells the story of why he decided to pass on the baton of a CEO to an experienced professional from the industry Tina D’Agostino and how this turned into one of the best business decisions for Alcatraz AI.
He also reflects on why he chose Sofia for the software development of Alcatraz AI’s products, which he calls “the secret sauce of the company”.