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Fireside chat with Vijaykant Nadadur, Co-Founder&CEO Stride.ai

Who is Vijaykant Nadadur?

Vijaykant Nadadur (Vijay) is the Co-Founder & CEO of Stride.AI. His expertise spans in the areas of Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Understanding. A suave public speaker, he was invited to speak at the World Forum for Responsible Economy, in Lille, France. He is also a mentor at the prestigious accelerator programs, Techstars Paris and Bangalore. He has lived in 6 different countries and speaks 7 different languages. He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science, from the University of Kentucky.
One the personal side, he is fond of Alternative Rock music, enjoys going out to concerts, and loves to read fiction, and enjoys spending time with his family and friends. 

What’s the story behind Stride.ai?

Stride.ai was born from a personal project at the university. I never even dreamt of being an entrepreneur. I was very passionate about using academic concepts in the real world, and would speak with people from different backgrounds to learn how technology could help them. When I showed my work, many people, including my professor, encouraged me to continue working on it. This prompted me to get started. 

My best friend, who is now my cofounder, heard my idea, and without much hesitation, jumped in. With no background in entrepreneurship, and with the compulsion of building an MVP, with limited finances, it was the first big hurdle. Once we built the MVP, our potential customers started believing in us. We got recognition from Portugal, France, Chile, and of course the US, when we made it into the prestigious Techstars program. Within two years of starting up, we had some of the biggest names in the financial services sector globally, as our customers.   

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

For most people starting a company is a very challenging experience. This is evident from the fact that around 90% of startups close down, within the first year. In my case, I had a fair share of challenges in the beginning. As it is hard to point out just one, I would like to list a few. 

  • Managing finances, as there is no guaranteed stable income, till your company matures;
  • The founder journey, at many levels, is a very lonely journey. At the beginning, many entrepreneurs find it pretty hard to deal with loneliness;
  • Dealing with the unknown and inability to seek absolute advice, as you are supposed to know more about your business than any other person.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

When I look back at my entrepreneurial journey of the past 7 years, a lot of it seems unreal even today. There were some amazing moments: 
Launching an MVP with just a few interns working with us. 

  • Getting accepted Startup Chile – 2015
  • Getting accepted in Techstars – 2016
  • Signing up our first large customer – 2016
  • Customers spread across five continents – 2020

Though these are significant milestones, I am particularly proud of what our offering was able to deliver to Fortune 100 companies. With just 32 employees, we have been able to help large organizations save thousands of hours, streamline their complex processes, and save millions of dollars. How could I not be proud of what my team has built and delivered. 

What is your vision for the future of Stride.ai?

Stride.ai is in the space of Intelligent Automation, which is the next generation tech compared to Robotic Process Automation (RPA). So far, we have done well in terms of delivering the value to the corporations that we have worked with. As they say, what got you from point A to point B will not get you from point B to point C. We have realized that it is easy to explain the benefits of intelligent process automation while building intelligent process automation applications is quite hard. Just about 6% of Proof of Concepts (PoC) actually make it into production. 

Our future vision is reliant on these three pillars:

  • Building an intelligent process automation application, should use the least amount of data and should be very convenient to build.
  • A domain expert should have a greater say than the data scientist. 
  • Applications should be hassle free to maintain, and should continue to learn with increase in usage.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

The current economic climate globally, is fairly uncertain. It will definitely bounce back, but it is hard to predict when. So, if you are running a business, these are some of the points that may come in handy:

  • Prepare for a longer period of distress.  If things bounce back sooner than you have planned for, it would be a pleasant surprise. 
  • Conserve Cash – This is a good advice regardless of the economic climate. 
  • Never set your eyes off your customer. Remember, no business can ever exist for long, without happy customers. Check on them periodically, and express your genuine empathy. 
  • Embrace the wave of digital transformation. If possible, automate processes which can be automated and enhance your business’s operational productivity.  

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

The three technologies that have had profound impact on our business would be:

  • Low resource dataset based learning: This has given us an edge to learn from samples in the order of 100s while it is not uncommon for vendors in our sector to ask for thousands of samples. 
  • Continual learning: Continual learning is the ability of a model to learn continually from user feedback. This makes our applications intelligent, and updated, in real time
  • Natural Language Understanding: This is the heart of our business. Our ability to support 9 different languages, comprehend complex textual data, is what makes us unique.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

My reading habit is fairly diverse. In my book cabinet, there are books ranging from fiction, non-fiction, self-help, faith and religion, and some academic reference books too. Right now in my night stand the two books are:

  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  • Horseradish by Lemony Snicket  

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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