Insight MEA’s Victoria Zagorsky interviewed Melda Akin, delving into D14.AI’s cutting-edge products, innovative solutions, and unique value proposition. Their conversation also touched upon the company’s vision for the future of artificial intelligence, the critical factors that have propelled D14.AI’s success, and Melda Akin’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs eager to break into the dynamic AI industry in the Middle East region.
Melda, could you tell us about your background and what inspired you to launch D14.AI?
I’ve always been interested in computer science and engineering, and I graduated from university with a BSc in Computer Engineering and later an MSc in Intelligent Engineering Systems. Before D14.AI, I worked as a software developer and system analyst. I was also fortunate to lecture in computer and software engineering departments and was promoted at a young age to be a director and manager at international tech companies, leading operational growth and managing a software development center.
Prior to starting D14.AI, I had my first experience as a founder, setting up a digital transformation consultancy that helped companies grow revenue through digital solutions.
I founded D14.AI to seize a new market opportunity enabled by efficiency-enhancing AI solutions – to solve complex scheduling issues. I wanted to create an innovative and seamless product that helps people stay organized.
As D14.AI has continued to grow with new products, I have focused on the potential of AI solutions beyond software management and scheduling applications. There are myriad ways AI can simplify people’s lives. In February, we launched Dhealth – an AI-driven training platform aimed at improving patient treatment and education. This socially smart platform offers tools and support for healthcare providers, including hospitals, clinics, and other therapy centers, to develop and run personalized training and education programs for patients with chronic illnesses.
The name D14.AI has an interesting reasoning behind it. Can you tell us why you chose this name?
We picked ‘D’ to evoke the word ‘Dimension’ and chose ’14’ because of the interesting connection between our favorite scientists, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Einstein was born on March 14th, and Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14th. Our company values are embodied in Hawking’s famous quote that says, ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change’.
What sets D14.AI apart from its competitors? Could you elaborate on the products and solutions that D14.AI offers and its unique value proposition?
D14.AI offers a vast selection of products. We use proprietary AI and other core technology, backed by the latest academic research, to solve optimization problems that become exponentially harder as complexity increases. Our software can evaluate millions of combinations in minutes – up to 3,000X faster than competing solutions.
Additionally, our scheduling engine, accessible via APIs, enables significant cost and time efficiencies – and there is a huge demand for it. On average, our solution saves customers 7% in costs.
‘Shiftit’ is our intelligent platform for modern deskless workforce management and complex scheduling; it is specifically designed to manage large workforces. We are seeing many businesses incurring high costs due to inadequate scheduling. Missed appointments in the medical industry alone cost US businesses USD 150 billion, and companies spend more than USD 37 billion per year on meetings.
Dhealth is a white-labelled, subscription-based service that helps healthcare providers instantly create curated training programs for patients with different conditions. In response to significant demand, we anticipate rapid onboarding of new clients throughout 2023, improving patient program efficiencies and increasing revenues for healthcare providers by over 25%.
D14.AI has been recognized with multiple awards and accolades. What factors have contributed to the company’s success?
The perfect mix of talent and resources has contributed to D14.AI’s success. I am fortunate to have a strong, supportive, and innovative team around me. AI is a talent-focused sector, not only because the technology is complex but also because it requires an in-depth understanding to find the gaps where it can be employed effectively in the near-term. Our team has been brilliant in finding and seizing opportunities.
For any successful software company, customer-centricity is key. I often ask myself, “How can we make our product easier to use and feel more seamless for the customer?” Maintaining customers’ trust is another essential feature. Always start with the customer and then work backwards. Paying incessant attention to your customer needs is vital to break into the sector and secure long-term success and recognition.
We look forward to continuing to develop true AI solutions that drive innovation and deliver real value to our customers, while having a positive impact on wider society.
What is your perspective on the future of Artificial Intelligence, and how is D14.AI preparing itself for the future?
We see a vast market opportunity for AI, particularly in the region, with an increase in available funding and governmental initiatives focusing on the sector.
Large sectors with hundreds of millions of consumers, including health, education, logistics, and telecommunications, will see the most radical transformation resulting from AI adoption. One of the superpowers of AI is how it automates routine tasks, increasing labor productivity, efficiency, and subsequently leading to economic uplift.
It is crucial to consider diversity when working with AI because it learns and acts based on what people code and how people train it. A lack of diversity among software / AI developers decreases the systems’ effectiveness, accuracy, and intelligence, introducing bias. Diversity brings a broader perspective to AI, allowing it to better serve everyone – which is the type of solution that D14.AI stands for.
As we move forward, D14.AI is constantly looking to innovate and invest in cutting-edge technology, as well as developing and fostering diversity within our team. We believe that this approach will enable us to stay ahead of the curve and continue to deliver unique and valuable solutions to our clients.
For aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter the AI industry in the Middle East region, what advice would you offer based on your experience with D14.AI?
The AI industry in the Middle East is expected to grow from $500 million in 2020 to $8.4 billion by 2026 – certainly one of the most exciting markets of our time.
Aspiring entrepreneurs should not underestimate the importance of having a seasoned business mentor, as there is nothing more vital than real-life lessons, values, and insights. This is one of the reasons why I launched Sirius Labs in March. Sirius Labs is an AI-driven training platform that aims to advance the careers of women in tech through workshops, bootcamps, and women-empowerment events with top technology companies. We aim to train 100 women based in the MENA region to land their dream tech job and sign 20 hiring contracts for technology roles.
I also advise everyone to be curious and willing to learn. AI is still a relatively new sector with huge potential. Continuously embracing curiosity and constantly asking “why” and “how” is the recipe for more innovations and solutions!
It is also important to be resilient in the face of mistakes or failure. Revisit your decisions, analyze your missteps, and carry on regardless. It is essential to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, maintain healthy confidence, and re-join the fight to finally reach success.