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Meet Nicole Janssen, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of AltaML

2021 Start-Up Award Finalist

Nicole Janssen is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of AltaML, a Canadian artificial intelligence scaleup that designs and implements applied AI solutions for businesses, helping them identify where AI and Machine Learning (ML) technologies can be applied to improve their day-to-day operations. Nicole is also actively involved in helping Canadian business leaders understand the importance of ethical AI, and has been recognized by AI Global for this work. Prior to AltaML, Nicole co-founded Janalta Interactive Inc., an online media company as well as Stratus Holdings Inc., a private real estate investment firm. Active in her local community, Nicole currently serves as a Director at Innovate Edmonton.

My first job ever was… Bookkeeper at my mom’s company 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I grew up around entrepreneurs so it seemed natural for me. That being said, I might have taken a different path had it not been for participating in the Junior Achievement Company Program in high school. This experience allowed students to collaborate over several months to build a company together. The first step is always the hardest, and I was lucky to take my first leap into entrepreneurship in such a supportive environment. 

My proudest accomplishment is… My two children. They are both beautiful, inside and out. 

My biggest setback was… Being diagnosed with epilepsy. Lack of sleep and stress are two seizure triggers for me, which can be difficult to avoid as an entrepreneur. 

I overcame it by… Adjusting my perspective; I chose to look at epilepsy as a signal instead of a setback. I have something that tells me right away if I push too hard or don’t take the time I need to process. It is also a clear reminder that people face diverse constraints that might not be apparent on the surface, and that we all need to extend a little extra kindness. This awareness elevates my ability to lead, by demonstrating and communicating the importance of life balance. 

If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… A lot of things! Caring for my horse gets me through the toughest of times; I love to get outside on my bike and have cycled from Jasper to Banff twice; my favorite drink is a Boulevardier; an organized pantry always makes me happy. 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… Don’t wait. The longer you wait the more reasons you will find not to take the leap.

The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… Commit to “no” to protect the most important “yes’s” 

Success to me means… I have a vision statement I keep in my wallet that reads: 

Celebrating each moment by choosing happiness. Living a life of trustworthiness, loyalty, honesty and competence. Having a healthy body through physical exercise and proper nutrition. Nourishing the mind through continual learning. Creating and maintaining healthy relationships with myself, my husband, children, family and friends; always sharing my love. To inspire everyone who has come in touch with me to live a life of fulfillment using their full potential. But most importantly, knowing when to put all that aside and just enjoy a good glass of Cabernet! 

I stay inspired by… My children. I want to build something that contributes to making Canada a country full of opportunity so that when the youth of today are grown, they have extraordinary opportunities right here at home. 

My next step is… Continuing to push towards our company mission of Elevating Human Potential through Applied AI and being ready for the next curveball!