Zehra Cataltepe
Zehra Cataltepe

Zehra Cataltepe: California Has Lots of Investors and Very Experienced Professionals in Engineering, Product, Marketing and Sales

Zehra Cataltepe of TAZI AI.

Tell us about yourself?

We are helping companies increase profitability and customer outreach and retention by means of creating one-click deployed, explainable and actionable solutions.

Helping also create AI expertise within the company so that you can create your own solutions for the complex and dynamic world of business.

Gartner Cool Vendor in Core AI Technologies (May 2019), Honorable mention Gartner Magic Quadrant CAIDS (2022) Woman entrepreneur of the year 2020 and 2019 (Women in AI in Europe, Microsoft Turkey, Istanbul Chamber of Commerce). Selected patents and publications: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=n45__FMAAAAJ

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

People think that startups are all fun and exciting work.

Yes, there is a huge part to that but a startup also includes a lot of finance and management responsibilities as well.

So as a CEO, I have to learn those in addition to being a sales and product person and also know my people to be a good leader.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

You have to make decisions really fast and sometimes you might make mistakes but not making a decision also might be a mistake.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Include sales and marketing people in the founding team.

Learn about finance and management earlier.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

I do not have a work and personal life balance problem because I’m married to my co-founder.

So we are both on the same exciting journey but I make sure that I have time for myself like exercising and getting together with my friends and family, especially over the weekends.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

My co-founder is a technology architect and we had to create our own company because we saw ML solutions fail in the industry because they were not able to adapt to continuous change.

So we started the company with a need that we have seen in our lives. Later on, we realized that we had to scale solutions.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

With our 60+ years of experience in Machine Learning systems and software deployments, we realized that maintenance of these systems is not only challenging but both time and energy-consuming.

To help make sure ML systems add continuous value to the businesses, we developed solutions that are understandable&actionable, learning from humans too, easy to use and finally, adaptive.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

For a startup, sales have to be coupled with product/market fit The founder, the sales team and the product team have to work in a very collaborative environment learning both from each other and every customer action.

What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?

California has lots of investors and very experienced professionals in engineering, product, marketing and sales. It really is a huge strength to be able to learn from these professionals.

What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?

California is very expensive.

We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?

With COVID, we are mostly working from home and we have a limited office capacity. So, working remotely has helped us cope with the cost of living crisis.

It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?

I found out that some of my competitors can also be my partners and whom you partner with or compete with depends on the needs of your customers.

I found the conversations with innovators and entrepreneurs to be extremely useful.

So I actually like the competitive environment and I found it to be more open to discussion rather than competitive.

Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?

We considered Chicago, Illinois and Texas because of their lower taxes and cost of living however we decided to stay in California because of the innovation and the venture capital environment.

Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

With our patented continuous learning, explainability and human-in-the-loop for business users, I believe TAZI will be an integral part of enterprise solutions in insurance, finance, retail and healthcare&pharma. We can be a billion-dollar company in the next 5 years.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

You can visit our website https://www.tazi.ai/, send an email to [email protected] and follow us on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/taziai/).

Follow TAZI AI on Twitter or Linkedin.

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