We talked to Alex Bondarenko, Founder & CEO of Discoperi, about building best-in-class AI for traffic analytics, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alex Bondarenko: Well, we are doing just fine, although we had to adjust to this new reality, and by April ‘20, we were under constant stress. We changed our behaviors, hobbies and many basic processes had to be reestablished. Still, due to the limited logistics ability (restrictions on flights, etc.), our work mode has severely changed.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Discoperi.
Alex Bondarenko: This is my 4th startup. Previously I sold in 2010. Then I worked with corporate and investment banks and McKinsey. I started Discoperi pretty much because of the ambition to save lives on the road, make transportation safer and more efficient.
How does Discoperi innovate?
Alex Bondarenko: We build best-in-class AI for traffic analytics. For instance, our main product today, City AI, is capable of processing any video stream of file and precisely capture, analyze and recognize vehicles. This product is used by police for stolen vehicle recognition, municipalities for traffic analysis, and building intelligent transportation systems.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Alex Bondarenko: It was super frustrating at the beginning of the pandemic. Although again, in 6-9 months from the start, we were able to recover.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Alex Bondarenko: In our case, yes – the difficulty for our startup was a need to cancel several discussions with potential investors, whom we can’t meet personally. On top, we had to fire a couple of people due to their inability to adjust to the new environment (e.g., their performance from home was way too low vs. what their performance was in the office).
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Alex Bondarenko: We had to focus on local developments more than on international projects, which from one side enables us to generate revenues from the local market, from another side – cancelled many previous efforts abroad.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Alex Bondarenko: No.
Your final thoughts?
Alex Bondarenko: I believe the pandemic made our lives more unpredictable and shocking. If previously we could live in a shell – thanks to the pandemic, we had to make very difficult choices in a very tiny moment. Some of the choices were regretful, but today they seem to be workable for that particular moment. What we have learned is that we shall always remember that the future is much more unexpected than in a spreadsheet.
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