Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. Some of the activities computers with artificial intelligence are designed for include: Speech recognition. Recently voted one of the 20 most innovative companies to watch in 2019, Algo is here to make sure you are ready for the AI revolution that is coming to a business near you. ARE YOU READY? In this episode, Amjad Hussain, CEO of Algo joins me to talk about how they got started and why they are working with companies to help them get ready for the AI revolution. He will walk us through a real-life example of how his clients are benefiting from working with Algo, what you should expect when introducing AI, how they set themselves apart from their competitors and finally Amjad gives us his half-crazy intuitive prediction for the next 5 years of the supply chain.

Questions I Ask: Why don’t you tell us about Algo? Where did you start? What do you do? [0:34] Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the companies or kinds of companies that you are working with now or that you want to work with. [4:44] Can you pinpoint maybe one customer you have worked with and how exactly have they used Algo and what did it do for their business? [10:26] How do you differentiate yourself? What’s different about Algo compared to other competitors in the market? [19:32] What is your half- crazy, intuitive prediction for the next five years in the supply chain? [25:17] What’s next for Algo? [30:31] In This Episode, You Will Learn: Algo, what they do and who their team is. [1:00] Algo is a vertical software solution. [4:58] Who Algo works with. [5:05] Creating value [8:30] Allocation accuracy. [12:20] What makes Algo stand out? [20:00] The future of supply chain. [26:02]

Today, data is becoming one of the most valuable assets for many enterprises. From Manufacturing to IT, every industry is trying to find ways to become more data-driven and optimize their operations. The supply chain arena is no different, with most practitioners thinking about how to use data and quantitative methods to improve decision making across all levels of the supply chain.

However, the sheer quantity of data is exceeding the analyzing capabilities of many organizations. As a result, many supply chain professionals are struggling to collect, clean, and manage the right data across their departments, sources, and siloed systems. It is no wonder that Supply Chain is one of the areas most behind in the adoption of AI according to several new studies.

This is where Algo.ai comes in with its industry-specific full-stack Enterprise AI platform that not only solves customers’ data problems but also creates immense operational and strategic value through successful Supply Chain AI implementations. The company provides a robust vendor-managed inventory and supply-chain analytics platform for retailers and their suppliers. AlgoTMhelps customers launch new products, optimally manage their inventory, and takes the guesswork out of in-store merchandising. Algo.ai also offers a unique, risk-free rapid implementation process that gets to ROI much faster than traditional approaches.

The journey to Algo.ai

Before founding Algo.ai

In 2016, Amjad Hussain and his partners built SilkRoute, a Vendor Managed Inventory SaaS provider. Amjad’s background included building data-driven supply chains and business intelligence tools for some of the world’s largest distributors of media products. This background, combined with some groundbreaking research done with Dr. Dimitris Bertsimas and Dr. Nathan Kallus at MIT, led Amjad to found SilkRoute in 2008.

Silkroute started its journey as a Vendor Managed Inventory SaaS platform and IT services provider, and over the years, the company expanded its solutions to include mobile application, business intelligence, IoT and other custom software applications. SilkRoute’s first customer — Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, started them down a road of providing mission-critical and data-heavy applications for Fortune 500 enterprises.  Reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey, Hussain says, “It gave us some revenues, so we could invest any economic margins back into the company and develop many more products and solutions. That is how it started.”

The success of Silkroute’s SaaS products and the increasing demand for predictive and prescriptive analytics led Hussain to conceive and build a unique horizontal Enterprise AI platform for data analytics powered by a Natural Language interface. Today, Silkroute is being operated as part of the Algo.ai family and is seeing rapid growth due to its mixture of cutting-edge technology and long-lasting relationships with many fortune 500 companies. “To this day, we have retained 100% of our customer relationships and reinvested our revenues in growth and product development,” says Hussain.

Vertical Specific AI

To effectively leverage the power of Big Data and AI, a team must both have the rare combination of technical know-how and domain expertise.  The Silk route team includes domain experts in retail inventory management, retail analytics, in-store inventory planning, and warehouse inventory planning. Pairing domain experts for each functional area with a highly skilled team of data scientists, machine learning and software engineers has allowed the company to develop flexible, full-stack solutions that leverage the AlgoTMplatform, which uses a conversational interface to accomplish an array of data analytics and smart workflows comprised of both people and machines. Further, Hussain says, “Predictive and prescriptive analytics are used heavily along with other machine learning algorithms in making optimized decisions under uncertain conditions and tradeoffs for millions of products faster than humanly possible.”

SkyLight + AlgoTM

SkyLight is Silkroute’s longest running SaaS solutions. It is a robust vendor managed inventory tool, which optimizes all aspects of the retail demand chain with a mission to sense demand, stock smart, sell more, and see everything. SkyLight receives POS (Point of Sale) data from the world’s top retailers and merges it with internal and 3rd party data to effectively manage multiple product categories for the retailers as well as their suppliers, wholesalers, and distributors.

SkyLight’s key functionality includes new product introduction, demand sensing, and shaping, demand driven replenishment, assortment optimization, and reverse logistics. Now, powered with AI from the AlgoTM platform, SkyLight employs superior demand forecasting, perpetual inventory management, and assortment optimization algorithms. “SkyLight is a high performance rapidly deployable and easy to use solution with a global and growing customer footprint,” says Hussain.

Customer Relationships

“As a bootstrapped company we have had to rely on our customers to fund our growth; hence our customers are our #1 priority,” says Hussain.

Algo.ai’s most important focus is on customer success. The company believes that the most effective source of new business is through its customer’s referrals and references. Therefore, it develops solutions according to customer needs and ensures that customer relationships are built on trust and a mutually shared mission.

Hussain proudly remarks, “We work hard to deliver, and our customer relationships reflect that.” He adds, “Our very first check was just a couple of hundred thousand. Very soon, that relationship became over a million dollar a year relationship that is long-standing and still growing. To effectively support large enterprise customers, you have to be willing to grow and fill the gaps they have and support their missions like they are your own.”

This attitude and focus on customer success has proved to be pivotal in gaining significant market share in niche categories such as Home Entertainment and Music distribution. Additionally, Algo.ai was recently recognized in an Entrepreneur article highlighting the journey to achieving “negative churn,” often considered the holy grail for SaaS companies.

Looking Ahead

Amjad kept hearing from customers that they have unique problems that they want to solve with some novel AI and ML approaches, but they needed a partner that can produce more reliable outcomes than their in-house efforts. To this end, Algo.ai recently launched AlgoVision Lab, an internal R&D department that works to design, test, and deploy novel AI methods using their proven B2B integration framework.

Going forward, Algo.ai intends to expand its business across the globe. It has already extended its reach by launching a new office in London last year. They are also on the hunt for new talent and technologies: “We believe in a smart M&A strategy and are always interested in talking to small entrepreneurial teams with great talent, innovative concepts, and unique technologies that can benefit our enterprise customers” concludes Hussain.

Whether you are a retailer, manufacturer, dealer, wholesaler, or distributor, inventory management is a crucial part of your operations. Issues with inventory can make or break the business. Without proper inventory management, it is very difficult for companies to maintain control and handle the needs of customers. Proper management of the supply chain, inflow and outflow allow the business to thrive in today’s competitive environment.

While inventory management has always been a critical part of any business, it has become more valuable over the past decade as consumer expectations and shopping behaviors have changed rapidly in the age of Amazon and Omni-channel. As the stress on retailers to keep up increases, in turn, they increase the demand on their suppliers to perform. Therefore, it is very important for suppliers to maintain excellent inventory management to be able to meet customer demands for fast fulfillment while optimizing their warehouse space and assortment allocation. Today, many new inventory management solution providers have surfaced using more advanced data-driven methods to provide transparency, clarity, and efficiency to these complex operations.

With modular architectures and customizable tools, these new inventory solution providers offer flexible inventory management software to suit any business size or vertical. They also provide more user-friendly interfaces and end-to-end data connectivity to streamline operations and reduce costs. Moreover, predictive and prescriptive analytics using AI is making it easy to analyze the mountains of data generated in commerce to inform better strategies based on the real-time insight of what is happening in the business. The space is also seeing the emergence of drones and robots using AI technology to check and re-stock inventories.

The latest edition of The Technology Headlines highlights 10 Fastest Growing Inventory Management Solution Providers to Watch in 2019 who are offering innovative solutions to achieve efficiency and productivity in operations.

We are honored that Algo.ai was chosen to be on this list and appreciate the recognition!

Read the latest edition of The Technology Headlines Magazine to see the complete list.

We were recently featured in a Crunchbase article titled Bootstrapping Business: Why More Startups Are Rejecting VC Gold

ArdvarkCompare CEO Jonathan Breeze writes about 3 crucial reasons startups like Algo.ai either don’t accept or don’t pursue VC funding. 

1. It can be a waste of time

Pursuing funding can be a full-time job and many smart CEOs choose to keep their attention on running the business instead of spending money fundraising. 

2. There are pressures of hypergrowth

Accepting VC money usually means expectations of fast growth at any cost, and many startup founders are starting to eschew this option in favor of retaining control over their companies vision and growth trajectory.

Algo.ai Co-Founder Nikki is quoted as an example of companies that have turned down funding for this very reason: “We wanted to maintain control of our company, our vision, and culture,” said Nikki Hallgrimsdottir, co-founder of Algo.ai. “We were also lucky to have paying customers right from the start who believed in us.”

3. The need for follow-on funding

Securing more funding rounds can become a vicious cycle, and if the hyper growth that investors expect isn’t realized companies can face down-rounds, or simply die because they can’t secure a new funding round. This put’s your companies’ future in the hands of potential future investors rather than existing stakeholders such as the founders, leadership, customers, and employees. 

 

Clearly, there are different reasons founders bootstrap, and the reality is there is no one-size fits all formula for founding and funding a successful startup. We at Algo.ai are proud of our bootstrapped journey and the customer-centric reasons we have chosen to say no to outside investors up to this point.

You can learn more about how we came to be in a position to bootstrap successfully in the enterprise space in a recent interview Amjad did with Sramana Mitra of One Million by One Million

 

With the AI gold rush seeing no slow-downs and enterprises in all sectors are looking to leverage Big Data and AI to drive operational efficiencies and power innovative customer experiences, in the last few years a new type of company has emerged providing Cognitive solutions powered by Artificial Intelligence. In an emerging marketplace full of brand new startups and established palyers it can be daunting to find reputable providers with experience in the right vertical applications of these technologies.

CIO Review compiled a list of 20 emerging players that demonstrate innovation and sophistication in Cognitive applications ready to be deployed in the enterprise. They evaluated companies based on their capabilities to fulfill the need for cost-effective and comprehensive solutions.

We are delighted that Algo.ai has made the list for our innovative cognitive platform Algo™

Check out the full list of 20 Most Promising Cognitive Solution Providers in 2019

Or jump straight to reading the Algo.ai profile

The Technology Headlines Magazine has included Algo.ai in its editorial list of fastest growing Intelligent App companies to watch. We are working hard, growing fast, and appreciate the shout out!

Read more about what we are working on, what drives us, and what’s to come in 2019 in the full article: Algo.ai Empowering Enterprises With Cutting-Edge AI

Mirror Review Magazine included Algo.ai on a list of the 10 Revolutionary Artificial Intelligence Solution Providers in 2019. As always we appreciate the shout out and the time they took to publish a profile on what we are up to including some gems from Amjad himself on the outlook of AI for jobs and the economy.

“Disruption can be positive as well as negative. I am a ‘cup is half full’ kind of guy, so I look at Artificial Intelligence as positive disruption,” says, Amjad HussainCEO of Algo.ai – a three-year-old startup using big data and AI to make optimized decisions about what products to stock on the shelves of retailers worldwide.

Like skepticism of past industrial revolutions – electricity, the automobile, and the internet – fears of a dystopian future caused by AI are unfounded. These technologies have changed human lives for the better, and AI has the potential to do the same – making lives more joyful and meaningful. Amjad believes the next wave of AI is where machines and people will get to work together, and by focusing on our relative strengths, we can make our weaknesses irrelevant. Already on this path to human-machine collaboration, Algo™ gets trained to take over tedious workflows and time-consuming, redundant tasks, enabling people to do more strategic and proactive work multiplying the overall productivity of enterprises.

Read the full article Algo.ai: Disrupting Supply Chain Management With Artificial Intelligence

Or check out the Digital Magazine edition The 10 Revolutionary Artificial Intelligence Solution Providers of 2019

Amjad recently contributed an opinion piece to the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply’s Supply Management Magazine.

In it, he explores the idea that a supply chain is a complex system of interrelated parts which needs to be regularly monitored for problems and kept healthy through preventative measures.

Read the article in Supply Management

With digital disruption at an all time high enterprises in all sectors are looking to leverage AR and VR technology to drive better communication, collaboration and customer experiences. In an emerging marketplace, it can be daunting to find the right partners and solution providers with experience in the right vertical applications of these technologies.

CIO Review compiled a list of 20 emerging players that demonstrate innovation and sophistication by providing cutting edge AR/VR applications ready to be deployed in the enterprise. They evaluated companies based on their capabilities to fulfill the need for cost-effective and comprehensive solutions.

We are delighted that our AlgoFace SDKs have made the list for enabling Beauty Brands and Retailers to develop and deploy hyper-personalized and immersive customer experiences through our Facial Landmark Tracking, Virtual Makeup Try On, Makeup Look Transfer, and Face Attribution Detection SDKs.

Check out the full list of 20 Most Promising AR/VR Tech Solution Providers in 2019

Or jump straight to reading the AlgoFace profile