Meet Vlad Papancea

Interview of Vlad Papancea (Co-founder and CTO of NLX) by C5 Accelerate

Andrei Papancea

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You co-founded NLX with your brother, Andrei. What was the journey like bringing NLX from a concept to the cutting-edge technology company it is today?

In 2017, Andrei and I began to build our vision of a comprehensive platform that powers conversational experiences based on his time building American Express’s conversational AI platform from scratch. Our first step in the journey was creating designs and figuring out what we wanted the platform to do. We began setting up systems with myself working on the backend infrastructure. Our other co-founder Peter joined us in fall of 2017 and began helping us with turning our early designs into a working web application.

Since it’s conception, the platform was always meant to be usable by non-technical people no matter the final output – be it an Alexa Skill, smart IVR or chatbot. Building tech that is easy to use helped us differentiate ourselves in the market as the other companies continued to build challenging platforms that are developer focused. I would work on building the NLX platform during evenings and weekends during the first few years because I still had a full-time job.

From the beginning, we crafted the platform to be secure, scalable and cost efficient by taking advantage of managed services from Amazon Web Services (AWS). We make use of over 50 AWS services with the idea of using the right tool for the right job. This decision has enabled us to build a lot of resilient technology very quickly, which gave us and our customers a lot of confidence. For example, if a large company like American Express or Chase wanted to use our platform, they could run their workloads at full capacity due to how we architected our systems. Unlike other companies, NLX did not start with a prototype. We built it like we would any production system. We made sure to do things with 100% effort now so we would not regret it later. Most of the code that was written three years ago is still relevant, despite the rapid advance of technology.

What was your background prior to co-founding NLX?

My interest in computer science started in high school when I began learning image editing using Adobe software and creating basic HTML websites from scratch. I went on to study computer science in college and found that learning about it was not enough – I wanted to try it out in the real world. I was lucky enough to find a professor who wanted to build a mobile application for his students. My experience working with him piqued my interest in software engineering and mobile development.

In 2016 I co-founded another startup with Andrei that provided on-demand gift-giving using a mobile application. Through that experience I learned about what it takes to create a company from the grounds up as well as building technology using AWS for production. After finishing college in 2017, I joined a company called Argo Group and built solutions on top of AWS. From there, I built terabyte-scale data pipelines that facilitated AI-powered risk underwriting for public and private companies.

How has becoming an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Technology Partner (ATP) strengthened NLX as a company?

The designation of AWS Advanced Technology Partner is the highest partnership achievable for providers of software and SaaS solutions on AWS. We met the rigorous qualification standards that not only tests a partner's knowledge and experience of AWS but requires proof of customer and market success.

Becoming an AWS Advanced Technology Partner has provided us with a lot of collaboration when building technology as well as selling it because of our proven competency and increased trust from AWS. We were given introductions to some of the world’s largest companies that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to reach early on.

The collaboration has been a two-way street. We often find new ways of using AWS services by finding bugs or gaps in functionality. We raise these problems to AWS, and work together with them to find solutions. It is unusual for a small company such as ours to be helping a company like AWS improve their offerings. I always monitor what AWS adds to their services, so we don’t fall behind. New features and services are released every day and some of what we’ve done even six months ago can be revamped due to the ever-evolving technology.

At NLX, we are constantly innovating and enriching our solution. Similar companies to ours cannot seem to figure out how we do what we do. Without these experiences of ours, NLX would not be the dynamic and growing company it is today and for that I am grateful. By age I am a relatively young Chief Technology Officer, but over the years I have put in the same amount of time and effort as someone much older than myself. This has earned the stature of my peers and partners as big as AWS. Anyone interested in learning about NLX further can visit our website at

This post was originally published on the C5 Accelerate Blog.

Andrei Papancea

Andrei is our CEO and swiss-army knife for all things natural language-related.

He built the Natural Language Understanding platform for American Express, processing millions of conversations across AmEx’s main servicing channels.

As Director of Engineering, he deployed AWS across the business units of Argo Group, a publicly traded US company, and successfully passed the implementation through a technical audit (30+ AWS accounts managed).

He teaches graduate lectures on Cloud Computing and Big Data at Columbia University.

He holds a M.S. in Computer Science from Columbia University.