Sat Ramphal CEO & Co-founder of Maya AI
AI Founder in Focus
AI has set the world on fire. I caught up with Sat Ramphal, co-founder and CEO of Maya AI to profile some of the amazing things underway at his company and to learn more about his own journey as a co-founder.
Maya AI is a data robot that analyzes your data, extracts insights, and improves your decision-making process. Maya AI is used in a myriad of industries to include retail, finance, healthcare and technology — all with the goal of letting users uncover valuable insights from their own data.
As regular readers know, I recently moved from the DC area to Tampa, and Sat has been gracious to welcome me to what’s frankly turning out to be an impressive startup scene in the Tampa bay area. It’s been a while since I’ve done a ‘founder in focus’, but these short profiles are some of my favorite things to write. I always find each founder’s story unique and inspiring, but common threads connect these entrepreneurs to visions and places us mere mortals fear to tread.
All industries are rife with common misconceptions, but probably none so much as artificial intelligence. Sat says most perceive AI technology as ‘too good to be true’ and don’t believe it’s as advanced as it currently is — progressing towards artificial general intelligence (AGI). With this in mind, Sat says his own thinking has evolved in the area of ethics and the responsibility that comes from building a powerful product like Maya AI. For him, it’s almost like raising a child. The AI will learn and evolve. The progress towards AGI comes with guard rails, or parameters on how the AI will self-learn and self-omit data.
Background. Sat’s parents were both entrepreneurs, and Sat dropped out of college at 19 years old to start building companies with his older brother. Lessons learned along the way from a previous failed startup has allowed Maya AI to become a vision instead of simply a money-focused enterprise. A key driving force for Sat as an entrepreneur is his team and focusing on a need to solve a problem. The main idea for Maya AI was born from dealing with continually changing public data that the team struggled to keep up with at their last company. Sat says, “It started out as a data intensity problem.
The idea to solve the data intensity problem and the Maya name came to the team as they were sitting on a beach, meditating to the sunrise.
Challenges. Sat says the use of a general intelligence system has its challenges in application by finding a single system to begin with. Building a narrow focused AI means it’s the only thing the AI is good for. Sat understood that building towards AGI meant the team couldn’t rely on a narrow AI engine. Maya stands out from the crowd by having a unique personality and memories. You can talk to her and she will remember everything and even use that data to get smarter; meaning when you leave and come back, Maya will have gotten smarter, versus using a system where it is a fresh start, or like coming for the first time again.
Entrepreneurship. I asked Sat about how he generates new ideas as an entrepreneur. While he’s single-mindedly in pursuit of Maya AI, he continues to tweak ideas on the periphery, like go-to-market (GTM) strategies. The team assesses what they’re good at and the value they can provide, while keeping an eye on micro trends where they can ride the tail winds that might catapult their efforts.
Sat is motivated by his amazing seven person team and their mission. Sat says when he was 19 he became an entrepreneur for money making reasons. Now he’s learned the importance of having purpose and vision; to set out to achieve creating a world-changing idea that can positively impact millions of people. Sat is most proud of building an amazing team willing to ride along on any journey and building a product that can have intelligence on its own.
Many would-be founders endlessly search for a winning formula to become a successful entrepreneur. Sat says there is no formula. Entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs. Sat notes you’ll learn more from your downs than from anywhere else. He defines success as value provided, and making progress towards your own north star metric. Sat advises would-be entrepreneurs to be prepared for those ups and downs, and to embrace and love them. It’s what drives your mind to solve problems.
For his part, Sat has some practical advice to keep yourself focused and productive. Sat suggests using things like the Pareto rule for time management, setting a focus every morning, and setting weekly goals. When you get lost, go back to what’s making progress towards the goal.
Another solid piece of advice Sat learned the hard way is trying to do it all yourself. If you don’t know something, hire the right person who does. Sat says, “I fucked up way too much on legal things, where if I’d just hired a lawyer, I could have saved tens of thousands of dollars.”
Every founder I’ve spoken with has had to make sacrifices along the way. Sat is no different. Some of those sacrifices he’s made include not having much of a night life per se, giving up on friends that don’t elevate him, and some of the spousal issues that can come up from time to time when running a business.