【StarFab Newsletter Issue 4】Recent Trends in the Manufacturing Industry and the Importance of Virtual Data Scientists in today’s Society!
Today our StarFab columnist has invited one of our exceptional startup alumni, champions of the 7th annual CIAT Accelerator Program, and the corporate-mentor choice award winner – ProfetAI to chat with us about the most recent trends in the manufacturing industry!
Last year, ProfetAI was able to raise a Pre-A round funding from AUO, Hive Ventures, and SVTI as investors with its Auto Machine Learning (AutoML) platform. The platform has truly been supporting the digital transformation process of Taiwan’s manufacturing industry, and ProfetAI has been able to do this as its customers are mostly in the manufacturing industry. ProfetAI has a clear product positioning since the beginning: to become customers’ virtual data scientists and provide a simple and easy AI software for elder workers to use.
As the era of AI nears, many brands have been discussing the replaceability of AI; for example, ‘unmanned factories’ remain actively discussed within the industry. Yet, ProfetAI believes that AI definetly shouldn’t be replacing the elder, experienced workers, instead, it should be enhancing their abilities to work within the industry. Taiwan, Greater China, and several countries in Asia have always held an important role in the world’s supply chain where success attributes to human labor. This is the reason why ProfetAI positioned itself as a virtual data scientist – it hopes to collaboratively uplift the manufacturing industry alongside the elder workers.
According to the founder and CEO of ProfetAI, “There are lots of AutoML (Auto Machine Learning) in the world now: Amazon、Google、Data Robot、C3 AI、and H2O.ai, Inc. These are all major global players. However, ProfetAI’s user setting is different. We design our virtual data scientist platform for general users, and we ensure that our customers can navigate the software and create forecasts, stimulations, and optimize future data with their existing database. All within half a day of training.”
Not only does ProfetAI provides a unique AI technology, but we also have a thorough understanding of the manufacturing process and requirements. Thus, we only need one week to complete a POC (Proof of Concept)! ProfetAI currently has customers in about 10 different manufacturing specializations and more than 90 use cases (and continues to increase) within automatic modeling. The team’s extensive experience allows them to explain cases to customers in various different industries and inspire them in applying AI in the future.
ProfetAI is actually a relatively young team, but the founders have over 20 years of experience in the industry. 80% of the employees have experience working for international software corporations (such as IBM, SAP, and PTC). Therefore, every employee has a high level of mastery in the industry. ProfetAI asked many of its customers while they are still at previous companies before choosing to specialize in AI development; they realized that the incorporation of AI and manufacturing could be the next pinnacle for the industry! The manufacturing industry in Taiwan has a powerful competitive advantage even in the international community. A number of companies have their own operating style, but most AI products came from abroad in the past which resulted in less integration to production lines. Hence, ProfetAI has been using the team’s network, experience, and top AI talents in Taiwan to have an edge in the manufacturing industry.
Taiwan’s manufacturing industry has been successively entering the digital transformation process, and ProfetAI has already had experience with more than 10 industries with half of its customer base in the traditional sectors and the other half in the high-tech industry. “In fact, every industry is in need of AI, which makes it clear for ProfetAI that it is the direction we need to work towards.” – Jerry
Facing the Uncertainty of the World
In recent years, the uncertainty of the world has become a major challenge faced by every industry. The manufacturing industry is no exception.
Additionally, factors like the Covid-19 pandemic as well as other uncontrollable factors have caused the manufacturing industry to have to accept the issue of operating production at an uncertain factory location. ProfetAI, however, is already equipped with exceptional competitiveness！Factories nowadays have to be able to move anytime and quickly establish their manufacturing plants within 2 or 3 months. This is one of the consequences that come with Taiwan’s challenges in globalization and political tensions. ProfetAI provides a solution that makes technology mobile and advance with the times; it provides a solution that turns past experience into a predictive model to pass it on to generations.
Every quarter, ProfetAI discusses potential areas of improvement with its customers. Jerry believes that “the nature of manufacturing, process, and method is actually not so different. Through continuous improvement, ProfetAI will be able to help customers get to the next level and achieve enterprise software positioning. This can affect a lot of things. Everyone tends to prefer products from foreign markets in the past, but we can become a brand, a specification in the software industry when Taiwan AI software companies have a large customer base.“
ProfetAI relied on precise business models to profit, even successfully raise funds, when the whole world was negatively impacted by Covid-19
ProfetAI’s product positioning is inherently based on virtualization as software can provide service at any time and anywhere. It has no timing issues and effectively minimizes contact between people. “Our product is mainly a subscription-based software data scientist service. Our customers can subscribe and cancel anytime. We chose to launch an annual subscription system because basically, our customers will have this expense one way or another. It is just that in the past such a budget was used to hire people. Now, more than 80% of Taiwan’s companies have been integrating AI technology, so human resources in this area is in high demand. Virtual data scientists resolve the issue of talent shortage, in which we have received positive feedback from our customers.”
Yet, Covid-19 still had some impact on ProfetAI to an extent. Jerry said: “Our resources are actually placed in the mainland China market in 2018 and 2019. Covid-19 had an effect on our finances and target market in quarter four of 2019. It was quite a setback, and we had to make a big change to our capital and business direction”
ProfetAI shifted its focus under the influence of Covid-19. Originally, it focused on developing the mainland Chinese market, but in January of 2020, it recollected its focus to raising Pre-A round funding in Taiwan. “It was working with StarFab that helped us slowly get back on track.” In entrepreneurship, not only is the selection of target market, industry knowledge, product positioning, R&D, sales, and business development are extremely important, Jerry also mentioned the importance of working with the right partners. “For example, StarFab is our partner of great importance. In 2019, we participated in the CIAT Accelerator Program and won the championship and choice award which helped us very much. For startups, visibility is a critical component in successfully obtaining investments. We successfully gained exposure by participating in competitions.“
What are the prerequisites for going global?
ProfetAI has always been working towards entering America, Southeast Asia, and other international markets. Jerry believes that the first and foremost requirement to entering the global market is market familiarity. Think: “What do my potential customers want from me” and “What benchmark customer bases do I have?”
Actual product launches are really important for startups in the global market. For example, ProfetAI has big corporations in the semi-conductor and EMS industry as its users. This helps us gain reliability and draw attention from potential users.
If you want to read more about ProfetAI and feedbacks from its customers, check out the Galaxy Summit 2021 hosted in March!
Changes Digitalization Bring to Our Lives
Smartphones have long changed the way people live their lives. In the future, “prediction” may be the next notable change in our lives. This is becoming more apparent in social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and online shopping platforms which analyze user preferences to conduct advertising.
“The problem with Taiwan’s industry is that they have only been applying such technology to customers, but they never thought of using the technology in industries. ProfetAI chooses to work with business because this avoids the sensitivity brought by using such technology on customers.” – Co-Founder and CEO of ProfetAI Jerry
“One week to results” and “Digitalization to Human Intelligence” are the core of ProfetAI. The purpose is to tell manufacturers that AI technology is not hard. Anybody can learn how to use the technology through ProfetAI’s humanized design.
The integration of automation and AI is truly becoming a part of our lives!