Arkady Sandler is a serial entrepreneur and technology executive with over 20 years of experience. He founded five startups; successfully exiting three of them. He is an expert in AI, product innovation, effective product management and technology development. Today, as CEO and co-founder of Docet TI, Arkady focuses on H2iM, a cutting-edge AI technology designed for specialized surface vehicles.
What's your industry?
AI, product innovation, robotics
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I founded my first business in 1998 and successfully exited just two years later. I went on to become CIO of a consulting company, where I developed a recruitment automation system that sped up the recruitment cycle by 25% and executed digital transformation initiatives that led to 40% annual revenue growth for two consecutive years.
I founded KeyStaff Solutions in 2004, a startup focused on AI-based recruitment automation. Within a year, it became a market leader, achieved breakeven and was purchased by a top recruitment company. Later, I managed to double YoY revenue as head of corporate development and transformation by leading strategic planning and developing a new operating model.
In 2010, I founded Essential Commerce, a B2B internet startup that achieved $1.5M monthly turnover within two years, and scaled the team from 2 to 50 people across multiple departments. After successfully exiting, I became CEO of a company building natural language processing dialogue systems and intelligent chatbots. I was later hired to set up an AI transformation department from scratch for a national telecommunications group, where I built and scaled a team of 300+ experts and launched AI-based products such as a virtual assistant and a customer care automation system based on NLP, which automated 80% of all requests.
I have been increasingly interested in the idea of robots taking on tasks that were previously the sole domain of humans. I've been driven by a belief that people should be able to utilize their skills and expertise to achieve their full potential and not perform mundane tasks. When I was on the board of a production holding company, I saw the inside of the manufacturing process and how complex and costly it was to upgrade the machinery and equipment every time. However, when we think of bringing full autonomy, it becomes an even bigger investment because we would need to replace every machine and mechanism with something more durable and powerful. This led me to think that there could be a more cost-effective solution, like equipping the already existing machines with new software to make them autonomous within the space they exist. That is why I founded Docet TI, a company that develops AI-focused products to facilitate business growth.
What kind of work does your daily role involve?
Currently I am working on the H2iM project in the field of hybrid intelligence. This is a project dedicated to developing cooperation between human and robotic agents for accomplishing simple and complex tasks across several areas such as logistics, industry, transportation and entertainment.
I oversee a team of talented professionals who are working on a range of exciting projects. From machine learning algorithms to natural language processing, we are exploring new and innovative ways to leverage AI and hybrid thinking to solve complex problems and create value for our clients.
Additionally, we have explored the potential for H2iM to be employed in the sport of karting. As a result, we have created FASTA, the world's first mixed reality racing competition using real electric race cars that can be remotely controlled over the internet. These vehicles possess some degree of autonomy, allowing them to cope with any possible loss of connection. To support this initiative, we have initiated a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
What gets you excited about your industry?
I find it very intriguing and exciting to see what can be achieved in the robotics industry in the future. I believe that one important factor to remember is that we don't need to replicate how humans perform tasks when developing robots to accomplish those same tasks. We can take inspiration from the fact that an airplane doesn't need to flap its wings to fly and apply that to robotics. This can open up possibilities for new and more efficient ways to work.
Another thing that excites me is the concept of hybrid intelligence. Robotics and AI can and should effectively collaborate with humans to create more goal-oriented work environments. This could empower humans to focus on managing diverse goals and objectives, rather than getting bogged down in micromanagement tasks.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
I can't point out one particular piece of advice because I have been learning constantly from everyone. I was always taking in everything that was happening around me and taking note of other successful entrepreneurs’ journeys. Of course, I was given a lot of advice. However, the one thing that helps and what I would say to other aspiring entrepreneurs is: Soak in everything that happens, pay attention to other people’s advice and learn from them.
Constantly learning is crucial for any entrepreneur, especially one who is an innovator. Reflecting on events and drawing conclusions is necessary to determine the appropriate course of action. Throughout my career, there have been people whom I consider my mentors, even if they are not aware of it. I particularly enjoy being challenged and having my viewpoints questioned because it allows me to find the reasoning and sense behind my ideas. It is important to be open-minded and not always be defensive, approaching situations with rationality and understanding.
What's the most challenging project or situation you've overcome to date?
My most challenging and at the same time interesting project is H2iM, a cutting-edge AI technology designed for specialized surface vehicles. Throughout my career, I've been driven by a belief that people should be able to utilize their skills and expertise to achieve their full potential. The idea for creating a technology like this had been brewing in my mind for a long time. When the time came to implement this idea, it was pretty challenging. In the field of robotics, especially when you are building a new product, the most important thing is investing in people and hardware. At least 60% of our money was invested in people and the rest was used to find the correct equipment.
The tedious part was finding the correct electronics that suited our purpose. I didn't want our equipment to be custom-produced or come in small exclusive batches because then we would become dependent on one manufacturer. Instead, I wanted our software to be our competitive advantage. So, we focused on finding accessible equipment from different manufacturers. Of course, this was a tedious process, so we had to hire a procurement team. They analyzed options on the market to find the most suitable and accessible hardware. When working with robotics and hardware, it’s necessary to find a specific person to handle all the different processes, so we spent a lot of time and effort to find good and experienced specialists.
Are you using any AI tools right now to help grow your business or, if not, do you plan to use any this year?
Yes. Of course, my business revolves around AI. As I mentioned earlier, I am working on a cutting-edge AI technology designed for specialized surface vehicles, H2iM. This is a project dedicated to developing cooperation between human and robotic agents for accomplishing simple and complex tasks across several areas such as logistics, industry, transportation and entertainment.
This versatile set of electronics can be easily installed on existing special-purpose vehicles operating in confined spaces and can also be used to train autonomous agents in a simulator or virtual reality that's created by scanning the operational space of the vehicle. By utilizing this technology, existing vehicles can be repurposed with minimal modifications, drastically lowering capital expenditures when transitioning to autonomous/driverless vehicles and enhancing work speed and efficiency.
This innovation has broad applications across various industries that require efficient transportation of goods. By implementing this technology, a reduction in personnel requirements of up to 10 times is achievable while maintaining output levels.
Overall, do you see AI as a good thing for business?
Yes. I see AI as an amazing thing for business and humanity in general. Efficiency and productivity gains are two obvious benefits of implementing AI in any business. The technology handles tasks at a pace and scale that humans can't match. At the same time, by removing that burden from human workers' responsibilities, AI allows them to move to higher-value tasks that technology can't do. This allows organizations to minimize the costs associated with performing mundane, repetitive tasks while maximizing the talent of their human workforce.
Of course, AI isn’t error-free. It can make mistakes. However generally speaking, it’s much more accurate than humans. In many cases, the accuracy is around 99%, even for very sophisticated systems. So it is not as prone to errors as humans are – its great advantage is that it makes decisions based on the available data only.
Overall, do you see AI as a threat or an opportunity in business?
Opportunity. I strongly believe that AI is a great opportunity for business. The application of AI in many industries is speeding up business capabilities, such as aiding decision-making, providing more personalized services and increasing productivity.
Technology elevates the production capabilities of companies and people, analyzing vast amounts of information efficiently in real time. Workers may perform their tasks faster and with more precision, delivering high quality results. An increase in productivity also creates economic growth, translating to better working conditions and quality of life.
However, I believe that AI doesn't always perform best on its own. AI technologies are great at driving or even replacing the lower-level, repetitive tasks, but businesses often achieve the greatest performance improvements when humans and machines work together. Some people think that AI is going to take away our jobs. However, I believe that the future lies in hybrid systems, where AI frees people from doing boring and mundane tasks, creating a more diverse and efficient workforce.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
Ever since I was a student, I have always dreamed of freeing up human workflow from the mundane tasks with robotic execution. That is why all my life I have focused on innovative technology and AI, and that is exactly the reason why I founded Docet TI. Our mission is not only to provide a solution to a pressing issue but create a new paradigm that empowers individuals to thrive in their respective industries. So, my one wish for the industry is to pave the way for a future where humans and robots work together in harmony, allowing us to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity.