Pavel Osokin

Co-Founder of AMAI

An entrepreneur with 15 years who founded and bootstrapped five startups. He is a mentor at Founder Institute, an investment scout for several venture funds and an advisor to two startups. Was named one of the top entrepreneurs to watch in 2018.

Pavel started his business with $100 and reached a $3.3M turnover in 3 years in the construction industry. As a tech innovator, in 2017 he founded Como Capital, a full-service provider of high loaded blockchain projects, and has worked with clients such as Coursera. In five months, the startup grew its team to 27 people.

Aimed to help entrepreneurs automate the selling process, in 2019 founded AMAI – a San Francisco-based startup that produces ultra-realistic AI Voice Engines. Pavel is leading the operation and strategy of AMAI with a professional ambition to install its voice technology into every phone in the world.

Where did the idea for AMAI come from?

At first, my partner and I considered making a robot that would benefit every company, without exception. What are their needs? All companies need sales. Our robot had to be able to write in all the messengers as well as email, and do chats on websites and social media. Plus, he needed to make calls. We began searching for TTS technologies on the market. After we couldn’t find anything good, we created our own TTS, trained the first prototype of our model, made the first sale for $25k, and realized that we needed to shift our focus to this niche.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My day consists of many calls, be it with clients, partners, or team members. I used to do everything myself, but now I’m trying to find the right people who are able to complete most of the tasks. The key to success is delegation. What makes me productive? I run for about 30 minutes in the morning and workout for about 40 minutes in the afternoon. I take vitamins to improve the functioning of my body, and especially the brain. Getting the right amount of sleep is also very important, but at the moment, I can’t stick to a sleeping schedule.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My rule is “hypothesis testing in 2 weeks and $100”. If I see a response and interest (and even better, sales), then I do it; if not, then I quickly abandon it. All business activity, for me, begins with a sale, and only then with a product.

What’s one trend that excites you?

AI! Definitely, this is what helps people save time, eliminate routine tasks, optimize business processes, and accelerate their activities. What could be better than this?

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Let the habit you pick be curiosity and consumption of large amounts of data to always keep your finger on the pulse.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be sure to test your hypotheses and validate market needs before investing. And also remember about time. I saw many examples when founders would spend two years making a product, come out to the market, and find no demand for it, so the companies had to close. Even worse, people don’t listen to advice from more experienced entrepreneurs. I was the same. I regret that.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Entrepreneurs can manage multiple projects without sinking. In other words, multitasking exists, and many people call it defocusing. The Pareto law really works: even if you only do one thing, only 20% of your actions will produce 80% of the results.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Networking! These days, this is the most important thing. The first step is to find a good employee – look for them in your close circle, and take the first step by investing – FFF will assist you. When we need to find the way to the C-level of a large corporation, we do it through networking.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

My strategy is to be open-minded and to have truly grandiose plans, something on the scale of Napoleon. When I opened my first business, I already thought about conquering the whole world – and it was just a small snack bar.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The entrepreneur gets money or acquires experience from his activities. It is impossible to grow without making mistakes. I haven’t had any major setbacks. Yes, I went bankrupt three times, but I didn’t lose anything, because I had nothing before I started the business.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Look at the HR market. There hasn’t been a revolution in this sphere for a long period of time. Create an “inverted” HR service where instead of helping employers hire software developers, you’ll have an HR agent for every developer, working with them to fulfill their goals.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Dinner of freshly caught seafood, taken with my wife and children at sunset, 5 meters from the ocean.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Combined with Calendly, iCal is my best friend. I couldn’t live without it. As I spend three to ten hours on Zoom-calls each day, I need to know when and where to “go” next.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I could recommend Kiyosaki, but such a recommendation would be too simplistic. So, I would say, read Melville’s Moby-Dick. It’s very similar to a startup story: team management, motivation, goal pursuit, and everything’s a little crazy.

What is your favorite quote?

Success comes to those who keep trying.

Key Learnings:

  • The key to success is delegation
  • Let the habit you pick be curiosity and consumption of large amounts of data
  • Test hypotheses and validate market needs before investing
  • Communicate with interesting people and go out of your way to meet with new ones all the time
  • The Pareto law really works!