Visualize information across networks
Amanda van Goetz, CEO
Lisa Pscolkoski, CPO
New York, NY
Fermata Discovery creates streamlined AI tools that accelerate the investigation processes of private and public sector agencies. Its flagship product, VIXN, is a multifunctional intelligence management and visualization platform that can adapt to any type of case. Fermata's suite of proprietary and OSINT search tools automate investigators’ time-consuming processes to expose deep data insights.
Why solve this problem?
The ways in which inefficiencies in our legal system trickle down and impact our communities cannot be overstated: there are 10,000 unsolved homicide cases at the NYPD Cold Case Unit alone and countless people sitting in jail today, wrongfully accused, who lack the resources to withstand due process. This happens because someone along the value chain - the investigator, analyst, detective, paralegal, prosecutor, social worker, public defender or corporate attorney - ran out of time. We believe that, through leveraging automation technologies and saving users precious time during the investigation process, we can make a strong and swift impact, and ultimately help more cases get solved.
Hardest thing about being a founder?
“Switching hats.” Constantly changing the scope through which you are viewing the company - tactical vs. strategic, technical vs. financial; striving to be mindful of how every move will contribute to realizing your long-term goals, while still operating under very real constraints. The things a company needs at a given moment is dependent on where in the life cycle it is, so I think the key is to never get comfortable.
Biggest piece of advice for aspiring founders?
Try to be as honest as possible with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, and look for complementary characteristics in your co-founders, team members, advisors and investors. Diversity of experience - not only in work, but also in life - is what makes a team strong. Aspire to learn from the people you work with, because if you aren’t learning or growing yourself – what’s the point of doing it? And lastly, which is an extension of the previous point: always try to listen to everything. Filter and apply what feels aligned and right, but listen to all of it.
Most exciting moment so far?
There are 2 moments that stand out thus far, one product-driven, and the other customer-driven. The first was the realization that our product works - using VIXN, we were able to uncover new information in several cases - within minutes - on cases that were deemed “cold.” By enabling the gathering of this information, we were able to help the authorities move cases that were 15-20 years old, to a close. That was a really meaningful moment for us, and proved the efficacy of the product we have built.
At a higher level, since the very beginning our working hypothesis has been that the timing of bringing a product like VIXN to market - was right. I always had a specific aspiration in mind: “If we could just attract the attention of Company ABC, we would know we really are getting somewhere.” As of the time of this writing, we are now developing a deal with ABC, and could not be more excited with how things are going so far. That this kind of deal is even in play for us so early on – definitely is a milestone moment in-the-making.
Why did you choose Bonfire?
Of course I had heard about Bonfire, I think everyone on the tech scene has – but I initially assumed that we were too early-stage for its investment trajectory. Regardless, I connected with Mark through one of our advisors, and somehow – it just worked. The vibe flowed very naturally. I noticed in particular that Mark was a great listener, and was super thoughtful about the stage we were at. I also sensed that he was the kind of investor that when he gets behind something, he’s really behind it, which is a dream for any founder. That same unwavering sense of support later proved to be true of the entire Bonfire team and general culture.
What's it like to work with Bonfire?
I absolutely believe that Mark is one of THE best people out there for early-stage founders to work with. He does business in a no-bullshit, very straightforward yet still thoughtful manner. Personally, I love that kind of style, because there’s no time to dance around the point. You may not always agree with what’s being said, but you always know where you stand.
The entire Bonfire team is incredibly unified, mobilized and driven by a steadfast commitment to supporting its founders in tangible and real ways, it’s pretty extraordinary.
Favorite book, useful tool or app?
At work: Figma. My Co-Founder, Lisa, and the product team are obsessed with it!
Personal: Book – The Alchemist, I think it’s the ultimate tale of iteration! I enjoy studying languages in my spare time, so I’ve read it in a couple.