The Digital Executive Podcast: AI ROI and more.

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From the ROI of AI to using AI for industrial safety, this wide ranging 9-minute Digital Executive podcast sheds light on why every organization must invest in AI.  Brian Thomas CTO of Coruzant Technologies interviews Chooch AI’s Vice President of Strategy and Growth. Michael shares with Brian how he started his career as a technologist, moved into Wall Street as an investor, and is now back in technology working with AI technologies.

Brian:

Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, home of The Digital Executive Podcast. Welcome to The Digital Executive. Today’s guest is Michael Liou. Michael Liou is the Vice President of Strategy and Growth at Chooch AI, where he brings a unique blend of strategy, marketing, investing, venture capital and product development skills. Michael brings an extensive background in venture capital, where he has been an active early stage investor investing in over 100 tech startups, including notable unicorns, such as Robinhood, Zapier, and Planet Labs. Michael worked for Citi Private Bank serving ultra high net worth family offices in the Bay Area. Prior to his role at Citi, Michael founded and built Capital Advisors. He also spent 18 years at Goldman Sachs as a managing director overseeing several business units, both in New York and San Francisco. He holds a master of business administration from NYU Stern School of Business and Master of Science from Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a Bachelor of Science from Brown University. Well, good afternoon, Michael. Welcome to the show.

Michael Liou:

Thank you very much, Brian. Great to have me.

Brian:

Absolutely. I appreciate you jumping on. And Michael, I’ve got about a set of four questions here I want to ask you. We’ll jump right into those. You’ve got quite the career in technology, investment banking and now you’re the Vice President of Strategy and Growth Chooch AI. Could you share with our audience the secret to your career growth and why would an investor join an AI firm?

Michael Liou:

Yeah. Brian, that’s a good question and I would say that I’ve been somewhat fortunate in my career actually returning the technology closes the loop, as I actually did start my career after college at Bell Labs Research doing coding, quickly moved to Wall Street building program trading systems and then eventually found myself at Goldman Sachs for almost 18 years leading different business units. During that career, I actually started doing venture investing, over the last 10 years or so, where I was exposed to a number of different technologies and really leveraging and parlaying my financial experience. It just so happened that being a venture capitalist over the last 10 years gave me a lot of exposure to a lot different startups in the Bay Area, as well as in New York and LA. Chooch AI, ironically, was my largest seed check over the last four years and my first AI company.

Michael Liou:

I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat for the last three and a half years watching the company grow. I kind of realized that what the team was building was very special and what they were doing was very game-changing, in terms of delivering visual AI services to enterprises and hopefully consumers down the road. In October of last year, the CEO and co-founder, Emrah Gultekin, asked me to consider joining the company, which I promptly accepted at the end of the year. And as a result, I joined as VP of Strategy and Growth in March of this year. I found myself having gone full circle and now currently leveraging all the business development, marketing and strategy experience that I’ve accumulated over the years.

Brian:

Wow. That is amazing. I like that, how you did come full circle starting out in the tech world and went into investment banking and then kind of back into what you went to school for. That’s pretty cool. So Michael, this question I have is… it’s around the pandemic. And as you know, everybody globally has had to make major shifts to adapt to this new normal. Could you share with us what you’re doing to help your organization stay relevant in this economy?

Michael Liou:

Yeah, sure, Brian. It’s a great question. Everyone, I think, realized in March that this pandemic was pretty serious and where the US and the rest of the world went into a pretty large lockdown. I you had asked me back then whether the market was going to be up 14% for the year, and that the funding window was going to be open for startups and a lot of the technology companies were leading the charge, I would have taken other side of the bet and lost, but what we have learned during this pandemic is that most companies are looking to always make their companies run more efficiently. And if anything, I believe that this COVID pandemic has actually accelerated our attraction and with a lot of the enterprise AI partners that we have in the current AI ecosystem. As a result, we find ourselves in an unusual position, partnering with very big companies like Deloitte, NVIDIA, Dell, Convergint, et cetera, having these discussions and helping their clients potentially adopt AI and other technologies to help their organizations become more efficient.

Brian:

Wow. I can only imagine what everybody was thinking maybe in February, early March and now look at us. The challenge that we’ve had to go through and shifting that we’ve done and the new normal, is going to go back to the old normal and what does the normal look like? I appreciate you sharing your perspective on that. And Michael, I know you’re leveraging some new and emerging technologies in your tech stack, probably RPA machine learning, that sort of thing, but maybe you could just talk a little bit about the importance of the ROI of AI and why your AI platform is so essential.

Michael Liou:

Yeah. So the ROI for AI can be measured in a number of different ways. Before I kind of dive deep, I want to share with people that AI isn’t necessarily that really kind of amazing high tech type of application that’s going to beat humans in chess or be able to initially predict things two, three, four steps ahead. As a matter of fact, AI can be implemented in a number of ways to simply copy or mimic visual human tasks of analysis, inspection and counting and do that efficiently, at scale and quickly. We could either do the same task efficiently in less time or we can take the same amount of time and do more tasks.

Michael Liou:

And meanwhile, we can also keep consistent. I believe that a lot of the things that are currently done by hand, whether it’s counting cells or determine that people wearing masks or social distancing or making sure that your oil wells are safe, free from flares and smoke and fire, et cetera, can be certainly streamlined in a way to create more consistency and create an AI ROI that will either increase revenues, reduce expenses, increase margin or even reduce risk, which is very, very important.

Michael Liou:

Imagine if you were working in industrial warehouse and you could use AI to ensure that everybody was wearing a safety vest, a hard hat, gloves, goggles and furthermore can detect whether someone fell in an aisle and also detect for fire and smoke, you could potentially increase the public safety for all your workers and therefore decrease injury rates, workman’s compensation and eventually maybe even lead to a lower workman’s comp insurance premiums at the end of the day. These don’t have to be really fancy applications, Brian, they can be simply simple ones that can generate some sort of savings in terms of risk or expense or more efficiency.

Brian:

Great. I like your perspective on the use of AI and truly leveraging the technology and not thinking of it as some Pandora’s Box, for example. I appreciate the share on that. And Michael, last question, everybody wants to know a little bit more about you. Can you share something from your career experience that would be helpful for those looking to grow their career in either technology or entrepreneurship?

Michael Liou:

Well, that’s a pretty open-ended question. I guess my advice to people is, in speaking to a technologist and speaking from a technology perspective, it was 10 years ago where people said you need to have a mobile first approach to your business, otherwise you’ll be left behind. Five years ago, people said big data, incorporating big data analytics into your business was really important. I do feel that thinking about AI, positioning AI in your business is going to be a pretty important. The need for AI technology coupled with public policy, I think is something that’s going to be front and center for a long time to come.

Michael Liou:

As far as the business end segment itself, there’s a lot going on. I mean, we’re focused only on visual AI. There’s obviously NLP and unstructured data and other things. The time of where we think AI is going to take over everything is I think pretty far off. We’re simply, again, trying to help increase the efficiency and productivity of people who are working out there.

Michael Liou:

I’ll give an example. Radiologists, all day long, examine slides looking for a certain conditions. 90% of the cases are pretty much black and white. Imagine using AI to kind of triage those 90% of the slides and then using your 20 years of expertise to really kind of hone in the last 10% and leverage your expertise where the AI might have trouble. Again, the AI doesn’t have to be a know all, see all type of tool, but can be used as really an efficient productivity tool to help increase everyone’s… make their work flow a little bit more efficient.

Brian:

I like that, I really do. And I appreciate you sharing your insights. I think what you’re doing at Chooch AI is amazing, Michael and it was a pleasure you on the show today. I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

Michael Liou:

Perfect. Thanks for having me.

Brian:

Bye for now.

The post The Digital Executive Podcast: AI ROI and more. appeared first on Chooch.

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