Asbarez: FibonAI Joins SkyDeck Program at UC Berkeley

Abel Yagubyan


Abel Yagubyan, 22, is a software and AI engineer from Yerevan, Armenia. Currently, Yagubyan is focused on his startup, FibonAI, which is a part of the University of California, Berkeley’s highly competitive SkyDeck Pad-13 Startup Incubator Program, one of the world’s leading startup incubators.

In an interview with Asbarez, Yagubyan spoke about FibonAI, a user-friendly workspace that offers tools for the day-to-day workflows of corporate in-house legal teams, as well as his experience as a 16-year-old student at the UC Berkeley.

Aleen Arslanian: Can you tell me a bit about yourself? When did you decide to pursue a degree in Computer Science?

Abel YagubyanI was born in Yerevan and raised in Dubai, frequently visiting Armenia during summers to live with my grandparents. Coming from a family of mathematicians and radio engineers, I had a deep passion for astrophysics and initially pursued education in astrophysics and mathematics in 2018 when I enrolled at UC Berkeley at the age of 16.

In early 2019, I took a “Programming for Physics” course that introduced me to Python. This experience sparked my interest in programming to the extent that I began missing my physics homework submissions due to my newfound addiction. The ability to explore a wide range of fascinating possibilities with programming captured my attention the most, to be quite honest. Although I was already a computer geek before coming to Berkeley, this course transformed me into a completely dedicated programming enthusiast.

Personally, I began to find a greater interest in computer science due to its relative recency and dynamic nature compared to a well-explored field like physics. This led me to decide to pursue a career in computer science, and by late 2019, I discovered a strong passion for artificial intelligence. Since then, I completed my Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Mathematics in 2022 from UC Berkeley and then earned my Master’s in Computer Science in 2023 from Northwestern while working on various research projects during that time.

A. A.: Why did you decide to study at UC Berkely?

A. Y.: Having initially applied as an aspiring astrophysicist, UC Berkeley’s Physics and Astronomy departments were by far among the top leaders in the field. With a prestigious list of Nobel Laureates within the faculty, I was incredibly enthusiastic about the potential of collaborating with the biggest names and research projects in the field.

I held a particular fondness for the famous Astrophysics professor Alex Filippenko, the only individual to be part of both teams involved in the 2011 Physics Nobel Prize Award for proving the acceleration of the expansion of the universe. He teaches the largest introductory class in Astronomy at the university, and I really wanted to be a part of his research team. So I enrolled at UC Berkeley, took his class in my first semester, and achieved the highest final exam score among 1,000+ students.

Afterwards, I began researching in Alex Filippenko’s team, became a Teaching Assistant for his course at the age of 17, and collaborated with faculty at Caltech and MIT, as well as the 2011 Physics Nobel Prize winner Adam Riess from Harvard.

A.A.: Did you face many challenges as a 16-year-old university student?

A. Y.: Definitely! Being alone for the first time in my life in the United States at the age of 16 was a challenge to adjust to. Being younger than all of my classmates posed a huge obstacle when it came to making new friends in the space. Also, the insanely large tuition prices that international students have to pay within such prestigious universities definitely add to the stress and pressure that both myself and my parents had to deal with. My parents worked overtime to provide as much financial support as they could during my endeavors, and I worked overtime with multiple part-time jobs while pursuing my education to pay off as much as possible—along with scholarships. This included roles such as being a teaching assistant, a course assignment grader, a paid researcher, and a software engineer intern at Apple, mainly working on Machine Learning and Computer Security projects.

A. A.: When did you launch your startup, FibonAI, and why?

A. Y.: I launched FibonAI with my brother in June 2023, right after completing my Master’s. We had been considering this idea since January 2023, when Hovsep unfortunately missed his visa application deadline due to a delay in document delivery from in-house attorneys at the company where he worked. Having been involved in the field of Natural Language Processing (Machine Learning tech for computers to comprehend human language), I have been particularly interested in solving this issue through an AI-powered software product for the corporation’s in-house legal team and for employees in similar positions as Hovsep. Our goal is to strengthen the value of legal teams representing large corporations, who often face challenges such as large workloads, minimal budgets, and significant stress due to the lack of automation and transparency within the field of in-house law (mainly legal teams representing large companies in tech, telecommunications, etc.).

We are currently on the verge of securing our first large funding for our initial fundraising round and are part of UC Berkeley’s SkyDeck Pad-13 Startup Incubator Program, one of the world’s most leading and competitive startup incubators.

A. A.: What are FibonAI’s main features, and how does it differ from other platforms like it?

A. Y.: FibonAI is an innovative AI-powered workspace built for corporate in-house legal teams, using GPT-4 technology to provide a seamless end-to-end workflow for everyone involved in a company’s legal department. Our standout features include comprehensive automation tools for: Manual day-to-day tasks in client and matter intake requests; managing legal matter logistics and handling contract workflows; useful insights within seconds using our AI-powered assistant system; customizable data visualization tools for Attorneys and General Counsels/Chief Legal Officers involved; a collaborative workspace to maintain a single system of record.

In comparison to competitors within the space of in-house LegalTech, we distinguish ourselves through FibonAI’s broader range of services, being the first in the market to provide end-to-end workflow automation, advanced AI insights, and a suite of customizable tools tailored to the specific needs of in-house legal teams.

A. A.: What is the ultimate goal of FibonAI?

A. Y.: The ultimate goal of FibonAI is to revolutionize corporate in-house law by providing a comprehensive workspace for corporate in-house legal team members. The aim is to offer a clear workspace while minimizing time spent on non-law-related manual actions using automation software and Large Language AI Models. Whether processing client intake requests, managing legal logistics, handling contracts, or extracting valuable information efficiently using AI, we strive to be a leading force in the LegalTech industry, transforming how legal teams operate and streamlining day-to-day workflows through AI integration.

A. A.: Do you have any advice for other young entrepreneurs?

A. Y.: My most significant advice would be to always embrace discomfort in order to make significant strides in your career. A sense of discomfort often triggers urgency and stress, which greatly contributes to developing strong perseverance for near to impossible tasks. Since the age of 16, I have lived alone, taken on multiple courses simultaneously, worked multiple part-time jobs, completed a 2-year master’s program in 1 to save money, and risked my time in the United States by dedicating my full-time work towards my startup. Even though I initially dislike these challenges, being able to overcome them builds an experience of resilience, which is really crucial for taking significant risks like creating a startup while everything is filled with obstacles and skepticism.