Omri Geller’s startup is helping fuel the growth of artificial intelligence, by equipping others to build better and faster.
On the Dealmakers Show Geller shared his love for chasing problems and AI. As well as his journey working through the ideation phase, fundraising, going through a big pivot around the technology stack, and his tips for having the right people onboard, and how to make it through the tough times of entrepreneurship.
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Omri Geller was born and raised in Tel Aviv. While for many it may be a small country, far from Silicon Valley and NYC, its reputation as ‘Startup Nation’ has certainly helped when it came to capitalizing his venture.
Israel has such a high ratio of successful technology startups compared to its population that it is on top of investors’ radar. Many top investors have a focus there, and are excited about finding the next great startup.
Among them are Tiger and Insight, which have both participated in Geller’s company.
Another unique part of Israeli culture is its mandatory military service. Omri says that it felt good to contribute. He was put in a technical unit, which meant developing cutting edge technological projects. Solving problems that often no one had tackled or solved before.
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Long before the military Geller says he was passionate about both physics and math, as well as basketball.
While they may seem at odds, both certainly helped him later on. Basketball he says taught him about playing as a team. About training and working hard, and investing in yourself, discipline, and competition. He says that in turn it also helped him perform better in his academics.
He wasn’t exactly sure where he was heading when he went to college, but he loved solving problems, and saw engineering as a great next step. Which he ended up following through to a Master’s in electrical engineering. Where he ended up doing his research with his current cofounder.
It is that passion for chasing problems and creating solutions for them that has continued to drive Omri into entrepreneurship, and which has no doubt kept him going where others have given up. After all, startups are really all about solving new problems all day, each day.
The idea of artificial intelligence has been around for decades. Though it has certainly taken decades for the technology to catch up with the initial aspirations.
Early algorithms weren’t enough. Omri says it wasn’t until maybe 10 years ago around the time Nvidia’s GPUs came out that there was enough processing power to support AI models envisioned by early neuroscientists. Only more recently have we also had the volume of data to bring it altogether.
Geller and his cofounder believed that the need for computing power to enable building AI models would only become more important. They saw, and see a future where AI will be everywhere.
A world where AI applications are implemented and running everywhere. From automotive, to finance, healthcare, education, and all throughout our daily lives. Everything everywhere will be equipped to run AI applications.
They saw a need for a revolution in power and AI infrastructure to facilitate all of this. They knew that they wanted to work together. So, they embarked on a year long ideation phase, exploring the different problems to solve.
They spoke to many AI companies. They kept running into the fact that they didn’t have enough of this compute power to build their own AI solutions. Then set to work building their MVP with a few companies. A software which enables them to build applications faster, and get to market faster.
Today, their startup Run:ai has raised $118M, and has been consistently growing quarter over quarter.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Omri Geller was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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Pivoting & Making It Through The Challenges
Even after raising $13M through a Series A round of funding, Run:Ai ran into a new challenge when they came out of stealth mode.
Their limited interaction with customers before that meant they hadn’t accounted for how tied in their customer base was with one specific technology. Instead of tweaking what they had, they chose to pivot, go back to the drawing board, and come back with a new product that enabled this integration.
Once they developed this and were about to launch, COVID hit. They paused that launch until things opened back up.
How do you keep on going through all of that? Well, clearly having a love for problem solving helps.
Omri says that the “first thing that you need to be is optimistic.” There are always going to be ups and downs. Sometimes they are back to back, sometimes they take longer to rotate.
He adds that the only way to keep going is also to zoom out. Something you should be doing in both good and tough times. Look at things in the perspective of the next five years. Be sure you have the right strategy. Be willing to adapt when you don’t. In the big scheme of things you’ll often see that the struggles of the moment aren’t that big of a deal.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- How Run:AI is enabling the future of artificial intelligence applications
- Who you need to hire, and who the right people to hire are for new startups
- Omri Geller’s top advice when launching a new business