We talked to Bobby Bahov of AI Lab One on how he consult businesses on innovation, business models, artificial intelligence and software development and he had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Bobby Bahov: Doing better than initially expected. I was used to working from home, and in pre-Covid times I was still doing it a couple of days a week. At the beginning of the pandemic, I thought it would be hard to adjust to working only from home, but it turned out it wasn’t. In the end, I think that for all the bad things that happened this year, there are also some positive aspects, namely that it allowed some of us to slow down, reevaluate priorities, get back to ideas that we never had time for before, etc. So far, so good.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded AI Lab One.
Bobby Bahov: I have a background in software development, but I have been an entrepreneur for more than six years now, working on consulting and product development. AI Lab One, which is an artificial intelligence (AI) consulting and development agency, has a non-traditional founding story. We started by organizing a meetup group with no intentions of turning into what we have now. About three years ago, together with a couple of friends, we decided to start organizing events on AI topics as there were rarely any in our city. Very quickly, we started amassing a big following and organizing multiple events a week. After about one year of doing that, we have built a strong enough network that we decided it’s time to move into more commercial activities.
How does AI Lab One innovate?
Bobby Bahov: Nowadays, we work for private and governmental organizations, consulting them on the best strategy to adopt artificial intelligence. We also develop AI solutions, like, for example, our most recent project on analyzing weight gain during pregnancy and predicting the associated risks with out of the norm weight gain values.
We still organize events from time to time but instead of just presentations and workshops, we focus on open innovation. Some of your readers might be familiar with the concept of hackathons. We organize hackathons on using AI for humanitarian purposes. We also took this a step further, and we created our own program for using AI and satellite imaging for climate-change-related challenges.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Bobby Bahov: I’m not going to lie – it hit us hard. We lost some good clients and even more leads. However, we managed to use the time to strengthen our relationship with those clients who continued working with us. Putting things into perspective, 2020 was a different year. A good year, just not good in the way we expected.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Bobby Bahov: There were some challenges in working remotely with clients. For some organizations, especially governmental ones, it wasn’t very common to use online calling tools. But after the initial adjustment period, things fall into place and eventually got back to speed. The good thing is that when we got out of the pandemic, people will be a lot more open and experienced in using remote working tools than before. I believe that this will ultimately increase the efficiency of how we do business.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Bobby Bahov: For me, trust, excellence in service and product development, and transparency internally and externally within the organization are the most important competitive characteristics of any business. I always strive to embody them as much as I can. However, it’s worth mentioning that I believe in collaboration and that we can achieve more by working together rather than aggressively competing.
Your final thoughts?
Bobby Bahov: I think this year posed some grand challenges for all of us. It might sound like a cliche by now, but I truly believe that it’s everyone’s choice how they spend their time, even in a pandemic. If one is healthy, I don’t see a reason why things should be very different. If anything, a lot of people have more time than before. Using this time in a productive way is one of the most important decisions that everyone should make for themselves. No matter if it’s for business innovation like developing new products, optimizing processes, or exploring new markets, or it’s personal innovation like studying, learning new skills, looking for new opportunities, as long as we remain healthy, we can still do it. Innovation doesn’t have to stop!