Interview: Emrah Gultekin, Co-founder of Chooch

NTR is a software development company and, as such, we tend to hangout with people who are interested in technology. We travel to hotbeds of tech in other countries to attend events and conferences where we get to know representatives of startups and companies.

We thought you would enjoy meeting some of them, too, learn about their experiences and benefit from their insights as we have.

During a trip to Silicon Valley, NTR’s CRO Yana Kazantseva met with Emrah Gultekin, Co-founder and CEO of Chooch, an AI training platform for visual recognition, based in San Francisco.


Yana: Tell me more about your company, how scalable the business is right now?

Emrah: We are an AI training platform for visual recognition and what we do is train expertise in specific fields.

For example, if you need expertise on certain protocol or certain field, we train that very quickly. It’s very, very scalable, because we do a lot of neural networks at a scalable size and training is very fast as well.

Depending on the subject, sometimes you can train within minutes; the longest time we took was a week. That is very, very quick in this industry right now.

And we try to automate it, so people can train by themselves without any type of input from our company, which means it will become more scalable.

Yana: What are your company’s short and long-term goals?

Emrah: We work to build a great product. That’s the first thing. Making things that are like science fiction and deploying them is really our goal and target.

We try to solve problems as well. But problems are not always evident and short-term problems are easier to solve and sometimes you need a paradigm shift to solve some of those problems.

We are trying to create a new layer of Artificial Intelligence on top of recurrent neural networks. That’s our main goal and then being able to deploy that in companies and at consumer level as well.

ChoochChooch inferences and interprets content

Yana: What do you think about the Valley’s business climate right now? Do you see much of a difference between now and 3 years ago?

Emrah: Yeah. The Valley, just like any other business environment, goes in cycles. We see different cycles here all the time. 5-6 years ago Big Data and analytics was the big thing. Then came VR and AR. Now it is AI, deep learning. Cycles of investments go to various companies, some of them succeed, most of them fail. That’s part of the culture here. It’s part of innovation culture that allows things to develop and see which ones fail and which ones survive.

Yana: Do you think the era of unicorns is over now?

Emrah: It depends. If you look at the problem from the point of valuation, I think it’s taken a big hit, but I think it’s more micro. It’s more about Wall Street and capital markets. But in terms of value creation, Silicon Valley always creates a lot of value for people. Companies like Airbnb and Google became unicorns quickly and they are still around. I don’t think stories of unicorns are going away, but probably are shifting a bit. I think with AI you are seeing companies that will last more in future.

Yana: Do you think there is a talent shortage here in the Valley?

Emrah: Yeah. It’s a good question. We think there is definitely a lot of talent per capita and each person individually has a lot of talent. But when you look at demand, there is not a lot of supply.

One of the reasons is that it’s very expensive to hire here and that creates a supply/demand equilibrium problem.

Also, AI frameworks and deep learning frameworks require new talent who are not classic developers. There is a supply shortage, but there is no shortage for demand.

Yana: In terms of offshore development, who do you think are more trusted right now in the Valley? South American, Indian, Russian or Chinese companies?

Emrah: We can’t be racist about developers. It’s hard to tell.  Chooch works with people all around the globe. And you know there are always all types of political issues going on, which makes attractive or difficult for US companies to source.

People work with Russian developers. I do not think that’s an issue. If you look at the numbers, probably European developers are being utilized here more.

Then I would say Russian and Chinese. India has a lot of talent as well. A lot of people use Eastern European developers like Estonia, Poland and so forth, also Portugal. Countries also push this as policy.

I think people choose the best they can, it does matter where  they are from. There is company doing AI-invitation to refugees. But you are right to ask the question, because it’s sensitive in terms of espionage and all this kind of stuff. China is very much an issue for the last couple of years in people’s minds here.

And Russia, because of its arrogations, also. It just clutters your mind. Whether it is true or not. But I think it confuses people a lot.

Yana: Which expertise is in the shortest supply right now in the Valley?

Emrah: Python developers, deep learning, TensorFlow, PyTorch, Cloud, all the deep learning frameworks, because that’s really machine learning,  DJango. There is high demand for them.

Yana: Python, because?

Emrah: Python is popular because all the deep learning frameworks work in Python. And I think, you know, we see this in other places as well. Microsoft is very strong. Outside of the US people learn C++, .NET and other languages. But Python is the language of the Valley.

Yana: I Agree. NTR Lab’s deep learning team works in Python. That was very useful conversation, Emrah, thank you very much.

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