Palo Alto, California
Industry: Tech & Automation
Products: Machine learning AI platform and solutions
Co-founding siblings Alston and Brienne Ghafourifar want to help manufacturers take a quantum leap with artificial intelligence.
Entefy recently came out of stealth mode to bring artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to the corporate market. "We just recently emerged after six years of advanced R&D to start serving customers," says Alston, the company's CEO.
The target market is medium-sized businesses with 200 or more employees to large enterprises with "hundreds of thousands of employees."
Early on, Entefy shifted its gaze from the individual to the enterprise. "Without realizing it, we were developing what we later called a multimodal machine learning system," says Alston. "We started creating these new capabilities and connecting them together."
"We wanted to create a 1,000X product in terms of value to the user," says Brienne, vice president, product and solutions delivery at Entefy.
Entefy has filed for or been awarded rearly 50 patents on its technology. The company's Mimi AI Platform harnesses multiple data streams with machine-learning methods and models. The complementary Entefy Solutions Suite spans linguistic intelligence, image recognition, cybersecurity, and smart sensors and devices.
The AI platform evolved from an in-house tool dubbed the "Universal Communicator." The pivot from individual to enterprise involved breaking down the omnibus communicator app into its subcomponents.
"The multimodality comes not from our system having a lot of capabilities, it comes from managing all those capabilities at the same time." says Alston. "It has huge implications when you're dealing with more than one mode of communication."
Adds Brienne: "It's just like the human brain, we like to say, and how we process different streams of data at the same time."
In the end, it's about "solving the problems that come with the knowledge worker's day," says Alston, noting that all of Entefy's apps have a "productivity angle." McKinsey found companies lose $14.6 billion annually worldwide from worker activities that could be automated.
For manufacturers, Entefy's technology leverages "AI-generated metadata" to optimize automation and high-skilled work, he adds. "Traditional automation has a really big challenge," he explains. "It takes dedicated people to keep it up to date, to repair it, to keep it at a high level."
Dubbing it "intelligent automation," Alston says machine learning can be implemented to "understand information in a very granular way and suggest rules."
"It has consequences through the supply chain. It has consequences to waste. It has consequences to revenue and sales," he says. "You have this goldmine of information in machine data."
Along with healthcare and financial services, manufacturing is one of Entefy's top three markets. Alston says clients include "Fortune 250 and above" companies that aren't pure manufacturers but "have pretty significant manufacturing operations."
If institutional knowledge is embedded in automation as well as employees, it reduces downtime. "You can have staff trained for six months and barely scratch the surface of problem resolution," says Alston.
It's ultimately about lower costs and higher productivity, says Brienne, and Entefy is largely sector-agnostic. "I think machine learning can help any company in any industry," she says.
Brienne was 17 when she co-founded the company with her brother. She raised $1 million in venture capital for the startup in 2013, the same year she graduated from Santa Clara University.
"The future of machine learning and AI is the end of software," she says. "That's the holy grail so many companies are after."
"I know people have this uneasiness about artificial intelligence," says Alston. "They think it's going to take their jobs. But you end up with net higher productivity, net higher employment, and net higher economic development than previous iterations."
"It's not going to take anybody's job, it's going to enhance them," he adds. "You end up with a single person able to do a thousand times as much work."
Challenges: Finding technical talent with AI and machine learning experience. Brienne points to the task of "scaling a great team."
Opportunities: "It's more about the company than it is the industry," says Alston. Entefy's undisclosed early customers are "leading companies," regardless of sector.
An awareness of AI and opportunities to drive value make for the clients with the most to gain. "When those two things come together, you have amazing engagement with the customer," says Alston.
Needs: Broader adoption of AI. "The market is changing and the market's evolving," says Alston.