AI, Interview

Building an AI Startup

From ReSkript Team
January 19, 2022
Sebastian Britz

Sebastian is the co-founder & CEO of digitty. Based in Germany and having studied in the "Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin", he started his first company when he was 17 and has invested in many other companies all around the world. He has also spent a lot of time studying product-market fit, project management and how to make people more efficient and productive. He founded digitty alongside his team in 2019; and some of his featured past positions include being a Co-founder of "Swiss Impact Capital" and a board member of "Hackers / Founders Berlin": the largest network of technology founders in the world with over 250,000 members.

We think digitty is a great project. Could you, please, briefly describe digitty and tell us more about why you have decided to build it? 


When we first started the company in 2019, we created a product that was a platform to match developers and other resources with requirements. The idea and the technology went really well, but we always wanted to go into the project management space. We knew that this was a very big market and at the same time it was something where we could bring a lot of value to. And since then, a lot of things have changed. We pivoted our business model to a SaaS product and for that, we had to understand the tech dilemma on the market: companies are still wasting 60% of work time on managing work, despite hundreds of project management tools. This results very much in poor project success traits as well as in tiredness and disengagement from workers. More and more employees are pretty much overwhelmed and at the edge of burnout with tech management, handling up to 10 apps at once. 


So there is a big opportunity which we saw at the beginning. AI can actually support Project Managers and guarantee better project success rates, which do not depend solely on the development and implementation of projects. Actually, most of the mistakes happen in the planning phase: from the very beginning on when the briefings get done. So, digitty is a layer above all existing project management tools that can fill the gaps in those briefings. Via API, companies can get insights into the project management tools which are already in use while also receiving recommended solutions to the projects which are running or are just starting in the company. This helps to minimize risk and also misunderstandings; since PMs are receiving direct actionable insights about a project’s cost, general feasibility, sustainability, needed resources and more. At the same time of saving money and time; digitty empowers and motivates PMs and developers. This is because AI can not only do most of the repetitive work but also decrease “loops” in the development that occur because of mistakes. 


To sum up, digitty needs to be thought of not as a tool but as an AI-based technology that supports project management during the entire Project Life Cycle; starting from the planning phase to the implementation phase and also in the maintenance phase of a product. It helps augment decisions, predict outcomes and manage and predict risks.


You just mentioned that Digitty is an artificial intelligence-based technology and we know Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all the rage right now. Could you describe what AI is? Do you think it could change the world of startups?


Artificial intelligence is a simulation of the human processes made by machines. These processes include learning, reasoning and self-correction.  We need AI because the work that we need to get done is increasing day to day. AI is much more effective when it comes to estimations or handling day-to-day work, so it's actually a good idea to automate routine work and leave the most important parts to people. 

I think this will definitely change the world of startups but also of all kinds of companies like SME’s and corporate. The idea of AI is not to replace the human person but to support humans in their work and eliminate the repetitive work of employees. This will help them concentrate more on the creative work and other really important parts of their jobs like communicating to their stakeholders internally and externally.  So, yes, it will change the way we work and it's already changing the way we work. It's not some revolution that will happen in the future,  we are in the middle of it. 



Digitty uses AI. What role does it play in your startup? How is it connected with PM? 

AI is our neural network. We created it by ourselves, with the help of partners and our amazing tech team. It plays a big role for us, obviously because it's our biggest IP in the company and it will bring a lot of value to businesses all over the world by changing the way their projects are implemented. We are a deep tech AI company, and we work on it every day: we feed it with information, we code on it, and so on. 


Could you, please, tell us about PM practices and tools that are used in digitty? How do they improve productivity? 


In general, we use the agile methodology as a way to manage our projects.

Some tools that we use are Atlassian or Monday.com, but it depends a bit on the team. My marketing team is using more Monday.com and the tech team is using more Atlassian or Jira, and this helps actually to structure our work in a better way while ensuring transparency to all team members. It is very important for us to see what people are working on so as to be able to align on projects and tasks and make sure we are all on the same track.

All these kinds of project management tools available on the market are nice to have. Nevertheless, you really have to put a lot of work in by yourself because it's not taking you away any of the work. It is more or less just helping you structure your own day. And that's the difference with digitty, that is freeing people’s talents and supporting people more in giving them solutions (like on how they can do their day-to-day work), rather than a structure where they have to do everything by themselves. 



AI is developing fast and some people seem reluctant to use it since it’s said that it could replace human jobs. Do you think that it could actually create problems with employment? 

Well, AI may be replacing some jobs, that's possible. But think about it in a different way: AI is used in the digital industry, and we can already see now there's a big gap between the number of tasks and the actual people who can solve these tasks. It is nowadays extremely difficult to find enough talented and experienced developers or project managers in the market. So if you see the rise of digital projects in the world in general, it is a huge challenge for companies to actually cope with this kind of speed on digitalization. What AI can do is not to replace human jobs, but actually to support and enhance project managers. Especially protecting experienced technical project managers while supporting less experienced ones who are able to do a good job and maybe learn much faster. With digitty, experienced project managers are able to handle many more projects at the same time than without our methodology . So we enable them not only to become better but to have more time on the most important parts of the work.

Within the next five to six years, we will probably need more than 90 million more tech project managers on the Global Market, and we don't have the opportunity to educate that many people at the same time to fill the gap. digitty could be one solution to cope with this lack of talent. And so the reason why we started the company is not to replace humans, but to augment, aid and support them.

Are AI startups attractive for investors now?


Definitely.  AI is a big thing for all kinds of investors and Venture Capital companies from all around the world. You can see this especially in the U.S. and China, where even the governments put a lot of money into the AI sector. In Europe, unfortunately, we are a bit behind. We are also investing in AI, but not as much as in other territories. So we have to step up here, because it's a huge opportunity for companies, but also for startups and the entire society if we use this technology wisely


You have an amazing experience and knowledge of working with AI startups. What would you recommend for people who want to build AI startups? 


For building a startup in general you will need a good team, a good go-to-market strategy and you ought to start your company not because you want to build a great technology but because you’ve understood and based your product on some real pain points in the world or in a certain industry. If you do this, then you can create a lot of value for your potential clients. 

 So this is very important, but also is having a great team. Specifically for AI startups, you’ll need good developers, good data scientists, good data engineers, and many people who can help build a great AI product. If you have built a good network around you, then it's much easier to build any kind of company. It doesn't matter if it's an AI startup or whatever kind of startup. 

What is also very important from my point of view is working on your company values. Start with it right at the beginning; because that's also how you get good people and as I mentioned, it's all about people, it’s all about your team. If you are not able to build a great team, it will be difficult to build a great product at the same time.

On the other hand, it is also crucial that you have access to being seized by investors who can support you financially.  Building an AI startup is particularly expensive and it usually takes a lot of development time. So you need to make sure that you have enough resources; monetary resources, technical resources but also resources in terms of know-how and a network. And besides that: be patient. You cannot rush too much and not build a good product, but at the same time, you can’t wait to go online with your product too slowly because you need feedback from your potential clients, advisors, all kinds of stakeholders, etc. And that feedback needs to be included early into your product.

Extra


AI is part of the megatrend of new work, and digitty is supporting and accelerating this trend. The whole working atmosphere is changing globally. It doesn't matter in what country you are going to, people work remotely, people work in different working spaces and in a more digital way. This trend is not stopping in the next 20-30 years, I guess. So we need to seek solutions for people living this shift of paradigms. One of them is digitty, which is playing a major role in changing the way we work.  It also supports this kind of new work era by automating things in a way that people can work more independently also from home;  because they always have several virtual assistants on their side, even if they're not at the office. 


digitty is launching on Product Hunt in January. The link to their Ship page






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