AI and ML is largely being applied to problems within the enterprise. Here is an exception where a solution to an SMB problem is being achieved through AI. Very cool story!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by having you talk a little bit about yourself as well as the company.
Didi Azaria: I’m 44 years old. I was born in Israel. I’m in between continents all the time. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I started my entrepreneurial life back when I was 14. I invented storage on a cassette. I thought that the sounds coming out of the modem can be recorded and can be decrypted into data. It worked in some ways, but I wasn’t that smart back in the day.
At some point, I enlisted for the Israeli army. We all have to join the army. I spent three and a half years in an elite unit where I had my first startup. I saw everybody using a lot of paperwork and I couldn’t take it. I knew that technology can solve many of the challenges we currently face, so I decided to take a few hundred thousand dollars.
I managed to digitize the entire unit and, eventually, the entire army. I saved a lot of trees and man hours. Most of the Israeli guys after serving the army travel the world. Many of us go to southeast Asia. I took upon myself to do a year long travel just to meet other cultures. I came back to Israel and learned computer science.
In my third year, together with my friends, we founded Sisense. It’s one of the leading BI companies in the world today. Sisense was an amazing journey. Our goal was to disrupt the BI world, which was very manual back in the days. We started seeing Tableau and other software, but Sisense’s idea was to give the power to the analysts instead of the SQL writers.
It was super successful. At one point, we got to a thousand employees and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. I did everything from programming to establishing the sales model. It was quite a journey. I learned a lot about machine learning and AI. At some point, I realized that AI and machine learning will be the future of data, obviously, the future of everybody here.
I took a group of the best Sisense employees and created the Sisense Labs, and invented an AI database. I’m calling it shrinking data. The invention name is Hunched. I did a lot of work around AutoML and a lot of anomaly detection. We invented a way to create time series even when time is not present. This is three years of my life which was pretty significant. At some point, I got an offer to join a startup called Workiz, which I’m currently leading. I’m the CEO. It’s a field service platform.
Sramana Mitra: This is not one that you founded. You joined later as a CEO.
Didi Azaria: It was bootstrapped by three people and I joined as the fourth person.