Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with David Geddes, Senior Strategy & Management Consultant of CogSoft® // Automation Engineering, located in Atlanta, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My business is a modern automation strategy and management consulting company seeking to revolutionize how people interact with digital systems – computers, devices, or web interfaces.
The pioneering cognitive automation techniques we apply are based on human-computer interaction, computer-mediated communications, and human-machine integration research. Aerospace Magazine described our techniques as “the brains for robots.”
The concepts involved with our work allow users or operators of systems to level up from boring low functional “assistants” like Alexa or Siri to a more functional, futuristic “associate.” Associates are the next evolution. These advanced systems understand you much more; in fact, our systems are better at managing your preferences about personal data, privacy, and security. We model humans so that systems know who you are, how you like to be engaged, and when it is appropriate – to include understanding what is trying to do or not do.
The origin of the technology advance came from an obscure research program to map the human cognitive functions of fighter pilots and translate that insight into software models. The research was forgotten, but a handful of companies continued – it involves modeling human belief, human desire, and human intent.
When systems can know what you are doing or thinking – they can either step in to help you or get out of your way. We believe this is the key to intelligent software that remotely casts into devices as software-defined robots that can navigate our unpredictable world.
Our customers are big manufacturing logistics teams seeking better insights into their unpredictable dynamic world, large consumer brands who don’t want to invade your privacy but still want to get your attention, global banks and financial institutions who want to predict behaviors so they can be first, or cybersecurity firms who want to get inside the minds of hackers to hunt intruders in a complex cyber domain. So many possibilities!
Tell us about yourself
I first started in advanced artificial intelligence concepts when I was in high school. I had a family member who was doing research on software languages - and he gave me IEEE/ACM and other periodicals to read. I got excited about what smarter systems could do and who they might impact.
I started my business based on a few customers who asked me to assist them in learning about and applying automation tools that I had been working on within a previous startup.
I am motivated every day by the potential of strategies like the automation techniques we offer, which will help smooth the road between you and your favorite brands. I am constantly struggling with giving up my personal data in exchange for access to my favorite brands – but it is a chore to keep up with as brands do not always treat me with digital respect. I don’t need emails selling me stuff every day or even weekly; my brands should know this about me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment so far is really just industry acknowledgment and invitations to share these ideas and methods with experts or academics. Of course, there have been a small number of companies that were acquired based on our work. I also would add to my biggest accomplishments my biggest failures – because, without fail, I would not have learned the lessons I have learned.
Do not be ashamed of failing. Failing is one of the best learning experiences. Great innovators know how to fail.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest part of running a business is juggling multiple tasks – marketing, sales, projects, etc. You have to oversee successful projects to keep relationships and protect your reputation, but you also have to keep looking for new projects and new customers. You have to be comfortable with not being great at everything in a small team. You also have to be cool with learning new tools, new methods, and new business ideas – a constant evolution is required, which can feel daunting. The accomplishments are personal and often not recognized as you thought they should be because, as a business owner, you do not have someone handing out awards – after all, it is your team or just you.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Do not build anything for anyone if you cannot get a promise on paper to buy or subscribe. That is a big red flag – if no buyers, you really should find something else they need help doing. There is a period of discovery you should do before launching too.
- Do not hire or join investment portfolios so they can shop you around without a formal agreement that they will invest in your company at a future date. Its not about the money, it’s about the people.
- Do not bring on co-founders who you don’t know very well, and I mean beyond social media friends, find someone you have history and can trust because some people act differently when under the pressure or they can develop grandiose ideas about the future that sway their judgement.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I highly recommend reading books about what you want to learn; in many cases, you can formulate ideas about something that has never been fully realized by businesses. For example, I read a few books about artificial intelligence foundations – models! And over the years, I have expanded on those books to link other concepts.
You do not need a college degree to be successful in business, you need ambition and general analysis skills, but I do recommend learning about business in some capacity from an expert at college or university. Why? I hated learning about managerial accounting, only a school mandating it would have forced me to learn it, and I am glad I did.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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