Vince Gaydarzhiev from Alcatraz AI

When Vince Gaydarzhiev was a child, his family thought he would become a violinist. That was until they bought him his first computer. Then a hardware engineer was born. Vince wasn’t excited about playing video games like any other kid. He wanted to connect wires, to create things that would be useful to others.

Today, Vince Gaydarzhiev is the founder of the American-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 $25 million Series A round.

Among Alcatraz AI’s customers are Fortune 500 companies, including telecoms and government-owned banks.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Vince worked as an engineer for high-profile companies such as Apple and Nvidia. He holds several engineering degrees from Stanford and the universities of Southern California and Florida.

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In his conversation with Irina, 39-year-old Vince Gaydarzhiev tells the story of his many transitions – from Bulgaria to the USA, from an engineer to a founder, from the automotive industry to the security industry.

“The best technology is magic, the one that doesn’t require any guidance or knowledge to use it,” Vince believes. But to make this magic happen, you have to iterate every week, constantly improve until you get close enough to perfection.

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That’s 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 talks about his struggles as a sole founder, the difficulties of raising funds for a hardware-as-a-service company, and the complexities of transforming the security industry.

“It’s important whether you hear a few No’s every week or if you hear 50 No’s every week. You start to doubt yourself, the business model, the industry and life in general,” says Vince.

In the process, he learned to trust his soul and find motivation and joy in the little things in life, like spending time with the people he loves or walking his dogs.

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Vince Gaydarzhiev tells the story of why he decided to pass the baton of a CEO to seasoned industry professional Tina D’Agostino and how it turned out to be one of the best business decisions for Alcatraz AI.

He also reflects on why he chose Sofia for the software development of Alcatraz AI products, which he calls “the company’s secret sauce.”

Catch up with the previous episode to find out what investors look for in a startup founder with Elina Halatcheva of BrightCap Ventures.


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