Meet our new advisors, Barry and Jimi

Meet our new advisors, Barry and Jimi

Yesterday I was talking to a friend at a Starbucks by the River Liffey, and I explained to him how I, as a solo founder, approach taking advice from my team and advisors. I don’t think there is anything novel or special about my approach; I think it simply boils down to openness, trust and good communication.

He immediately came back to me and said: “So you’ve basically made a co-founder out of your team?” and I felt like that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do.

Having this ‘virtual’ co-founder has been a crucial step in our progress and development as a company, and in my personal development, and I always encourage other founders to engage with advisors and mentors in areas they lack expertise in, which if done right, could really provide a level of help and support you would normally get from a second or third or fourth co-founder. As a founder, you have to make tough decisions and navigate through diverse and challenging areas, so even if you have the strongest sense of intuition, you really need that second voice and that extra pair of eyeballs to validate your decisions, or at least to give you a better understanding of your intuition, and that’s where an experienced advisor can be tremendously helpful.

In my case, in addition to having the chance to work with amazingly talented, supportive and caring people on a daily basis, I’ve been lucky enough to have two brilliant advisors – Shawn Broderick and John Breslin.

Over the past couple of years, Shawn and John have helped me with various issues, from fundraising to team building to product directions and building ties with academia.

AYLIEN advisory board update

Today I’m proud to announce the addition of two new advisors to our team: Prof. Barry Smyth of UCD and INSIGHT and Dr. James (Jimi) Shanahan of UC Berkeley, Xerox and NativeX.

Both individuals are extremely well achieved, and I find it difficult to put them in a single category like “academic” or “entrepreneurial” as they’re both very well balanced between the academic/research world, and the business world, and in addition to being distinctly successful academics, they have both started, grown and sold companies. So instead, I’m going to tell you a bit more about their background and how we plan to work together in future.

Barry Smyth


Barry is a Full Professor and Digital Chair of Computer Science at University College Dublin. To date, he has published in excess of 400 scientific articles and has contributed to dozens of patents.

In 1999, Barry co-founded ChangingWorlds, bringing advanced personalization tech to the mobile sector. ChangingWorlds grew to 120 people before being acquired by Amdocs Ltd in 2008, the same year in which Barry co-founded HeyStaks Technologies Ltd – a company focused on commercializing new social search technology.

Barry received a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence at Trinity College in Dublin and holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from University College Dublin.

James Shanahan


James has over 20 years’ experience developing and researching cutting-edge information management systems that harness information retrieval, linguistics, and machine learning in applications and domains such as web search and computational advertising at companies such as NativeX, Digg, AT&T, SearchMe and Turn Inc.

A frequent speaker at various academic and commercial conferences, James has published seven books and 45 refereed papers in machine learning and information systems. As you may have guessed from the image above, James is a keen kiteboarder. In fact, he represented Ireland at the Kiteboarding World Championships in both 2014 and 2015!

James received a Ph.D. in Engineering Mathematics from The University of Bristol, United Kingdom and holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Limerick Ireland.

Going forward

Barry and Jimi have a strong knowledge of/ties to academia, and together with our other brilliant academic advisor, John Breslin, we will be working on growing our partnerships with leading universities and research institutions in Ireland and abroad. This will hopefully result in wider academic collaborations between us and other organizations, and will ultimately lead to new publications, products and internship/fellowship opportunities with us for students and researchers working in the Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing space.

If you’re interested in collaborating with us in any of these areas, please feel free to get in touch with me directly:

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