Vince Lynch is CEO of IV.AI, the enterprise AI platform. IV.AI helps companies use AI to reach their customers, understand their needs, and serve them better. IV.AI has built AI solutions for enterprises such as Capital One, Netflix, Sony, Time Warner, and Estée Lauder. It leads the industry in automating up to 96 percent of large enterprises’ customer interactions and offering affordable tools for small and mid-sized enterprises.
Prior to founding IV.AI, Lynch worked with Spotify, Virgin, and The Times of India. A serial entrepreneur, he has built several businesses, including Synkio, Dirty Work, and Dumbstruck.
Where did the idea for IV.AI come from?
At the time, I was receiving requests for specific AI models from friends who were working at large enterprises. To tackle those challenges, I realized that I needed to bring together all the best machine learning engineers. We united around a shared obsession with artificial intelligence and a general excitement that the rest of the world was finally seeing the value of AI.
The goal of IV.AI was, and still is, to show people outside the tech world what AI can do in the business world. Today, we’re helping executives across industries apply machine learning and see insane results. Then, emboldened by our success, we built Flashlight.ai, and easy-to-use AI platform so smaller companies could automate their customer service to better serve customers.
On average, IV.AI’s clients cut their customer service costs by 70 percent and receive free analytics that drive revenue. Our clients’ customers spend eight times less time finding solutions and rate their experiences a 4.6 out of 5.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Frankly, I’m not sure that I know what “typical” means anymore. Because our business is in such high demand and we’re lucky to work with such special companies, every day feels new. It’s like, “Surprise! This massive tech company wants us to be its AI partner.” Another day, I might learn out of the blue that a global conglomerate chose us for all its customer service needs.
I try to force “typical” into each day by following rigid systems designed by people who are great at operations. Typically, I work 15-hour days split between product and partners. To give my mind a rest, I spend an hour each day in my “creative bubble,” which is usually a punching bag or squash session. Occasionally, I take four-day silent retreats to go off the radar entirely. I also work with InsightLA, which offers amazing Vipassanā meditation sessions. In other words, I spend breaks not thinking, which I find is the best way to rest.
How do you bring ideas to life?
For us, it’s all about process and technology. We’re always building tools that scale and models that work for us. It’s a two-step process: First, we drink our own Kool Aid, so to speak, by leveraging AI tools to understand our clients’ goals and inform our work. Second, we wrap our workflows around processes that capture our best ideas so that we can cull waste and stay efficient.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
This might sound strange for someone who works in artificial intelligence, but human beings excite me. We’re endlessly complicated creatures, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. I mean, Facebook has an “It’s complicated” relationship status option, and I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to describe how people relate to one another.
Just about everyone has an interpersonal relationship that they don’t fully understand because people are so complex. We embody the chaos of nature; our minds are a disco ball throwing light back out. What I love about AI is that it’s actually helping us understand ourselves better, and we’re only starting to see how big the ocean is.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I love sports, like squash and boxing, that involve hitting things. Is that healthy? It helps me stay calm in stressful situations. I also love meditating to silence my thoughts. Both extremes do the same thing for me: force me to stop thinking and just be.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Write every non-trivial idea down! When I was younger and more energetic, I cared too much about whether concepts were doable and too little about the signals in the concepts themselves.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think AI is going to help us better understand ourselves. I don’t know exactly how yet, but I — alongside many other people working on machine learning — am going to find out. We need more minds to make it happen. If you’re thinking about a career change, I highly recommend checking out AI. Stanford University’s and Coursera’s machine learning course is a great place to start.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Question yourself. Why are you building what you’re building? What is the origin of the idea? Is that same core belief still being served by your product? Think about the big things. Are you doing it that way just because you were taught to do so, or is it actually the best way to do it? Your own mind is the best conduit you have to understand your existence, so try to find your own path by following concepts that you connect with.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Above all, great people. I know, it’s a cliché, but it’s the truth. Before I started IV.AI, I spent years — more than a decade, in some cases — tracking down the most intelligent and interesting people I could find. I’d always wanted to work with my role models, and when I finally had spots open on my team, I would chase them with wild abandon. Often, they’d catch on, and it’d become a game. “Stop looking at my brain like a filet mignon!” they’d cry, but I wouldn’t let up.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There isn’t enough ink in the world to list all my failures. In the town where I grew up, being bright was a bad thing. I hid my ideas because I was afraid I’d be pummeled for them. That’s a big one. I gave in to my fear. Rather than being confident enough to be myself, I let the fear win.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We’re not very creative with our physical possessions, and I think that’s a shame. Think about it: Humans are mobile creatures, yet most of our things are not. Why can’t your suitcase be a skateboard? I’m not talking about a transforming robot here — just a suitcase with some better wheels. You could ride your stuff everywhere you go. That should be a thing.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I’m 6 feet 3 inches and finally in a place where I can pay for more legroom when I fly. It’s so worth it to me.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use CRM tools to organize my life. They help me visualize my progress, like water moving through pipes until it reaches the tap. In my personal and professional lives, CRM systems keep me accountable and productive.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Anything by Kurt Vonnegut or Haruki Murakami. When you’re trying to think about difficult technical problems abstractly, it’s helpful to submerge yourself in surrealist creativity. It’ll break your brain out of its dusty reality, and sometimes, we all need that.
What is your favorite quote?
I generally don’t like quotes. I think of them as the lazy way of expressing ideas. Still, I use, “Be the change you want to see in the world” in my everyday life. I want to build things that help others, but that’s easy to forget when you’re afraid of being poor. I am afraid of being poor again. Is that a famous quote?
• Question yourself. Why are you doing what you’re doing?
• Write non-trivial ideas down. What signals do they suggest?
• Use CRM tools to organize your life.
• For a mental refresh, read anything by Kurt Vonnegut or Haruki Murakami.
IV.AI on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/iv.ai
IV.AI on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theaiagency/
IV.AI on Twitter: @theAIagency
Vince Lynch on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincelynch/