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Chanukya Patnaik: Educating and Building AI for All To Solve Meaningful Problems

Chanukya Patnaik: DPhi

At DPhi, we are building a global community with a mission to educate and build AI for all to solve meaningful problems. Our core initiatives and products include a global AI community and a AI marketplace.

– Our AI community is a place where one can learn AI skills from industry experts for free. In less than 2 years our free courses and learning resources have benefitted 100K+ individuals from 150+ countries. We believe this will go a long way in democratizing AI education.

– Our AI marketplace is where the best data scientists in the community apply their skills to solve social and business problems. So far, we have fostered breakthrough innovations among several organizations, from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

We solved several pressing challenges, including earthquake prediction, safeguarding of NFTs/Crypto assets, etc. In near future, the marketplace will have plug-and-play AI algorithms developed by the best data scientists in the world.

At the core, our vision is to shape the future using AI with a thriving global community. Currently, we are backed and supported by Start it @KBC, GAN Accelerators, and Microsoft for Startups.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m Chanukya, founder of DPhi. I was born in India, currently living in Belgium. My passion for entrepreneurship and solving meaningful problems led me to start DPhi with a vision to educate and build AI for all. My love for education has been there since my early childhood.

It was inspired by my mother – a teacher and a single parent who started her profession to educate her kids and make ends meet. I was brought up with the philosophy that education can positively transform the lives of individuals and the people around them. Hence, I believe in the power of education and see it as one such asset that will last forever, unlike materialistic things.

I developed a passion for entrepreneurship, problem-solving, and making informed decisions using data during my Bachelor’s at NIT Warangal. That led me to lead teams and initiatives for Internshala and CodeChef; both the communities cumulatively impacted over 10million+ with education and careers.

I became an evangelist of AI when I understood its potential and how it can solve some of the biggest problems on the planet. In 2017, I did my Master’s in Statistics & Data Science at KU Leuven and joined the founding team of Complidata as a data scientist, where I built AI solutions for financial institutions to prevent financial crimes such as money laundering and terrorist financing.

In mid-2020, I started DPhi out of a desire to create a lasting impact and a hunger to solve real-world problems through education and AI. I started the journey of DPhi as a community, and so far, we have impacted 100K+ learners with our free learning resources. And we’ve taken steps to build an AI marketplace that’ll democratize the use of AI to solve meaningful problems.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

It would be to start up a bit earlier as the learning curve as a founder is very steep. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always believed that the best way to learn things quickly is by doing experiments at a high velocity.

There are a few essential things that I’ve learned over the years. On that line, I would like to advise my younger self to focus on building a thriving culture that enables people to spot opportunities in situations where most see obstacles.

The best growth recipe is putting together a promising talent with a great attitude, zero compromises on vision alignment, and a natural risk appetite with a bias for action.

What problem does your business solve?

Everyone talks highly about AI, and ~$340 billion is the estimated spend on AI last year (2021). However, if we look at the bottom-line impact, more than 85% of AI projects fail to drive impact.

The primary root causes are lack of awareness of best data practices and shortage of industry ready talent. Solving these problem needs a holistic approach which is missing today.

DPhi was started to address the issues with a community first approach. With a thriving global AI community, our mission is to educate and build AI for all to solve real-world business and social problems.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

In 2019 I witnessed the problem of AI projects failing firsthand while working as a Data Scientist. I noticed some of the largest banks in the US and EU spend millions on AI projects without any tangible impact. Spoke to several data science leaders to validate the problem.

The biggest challenge for the high failure rate remains shortage of industry talent and lack of awareness of best practices.

My continued interest in AI led me to focus on problems that could change the world for the better. Thus my brainchild, DPhi, was born.

While every company today is a “tech company,” soon, every company will be an “AI-driven company.” With this rapid evolvement, awareness and basic education of AI will become more important than ever. And with DPhi, we are aiming to prepare the world for the future by educating and building AI for all with a community-first approach.

What is your magic sauce?

Our magic sauce is our team and the community. DPhi is currently driven by a bunch of passionate individuals who came together to make an impact and create a meaningful difference on the planet.

We are a very diverse team working from 3 different countries with a single purpose to drive the vision of DPhi forward. Together we believe education and the application of artificial intelligence can truly shape the future and make the world a better place to live.

Our community is home to 100K+ AI enthusiasts who love problem-solving and giving back to the community. With our diverse global community as our greatest strength, we are excited to harness the power of community and AI to solve meaningful problems on the planet.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We will witness the massive adoption of AI in the years to come. It will be part of our daily routine, and we’ll see AI driving impact in literally every industry out there.

Basic AI education and awareness are set to become a necessity in the near future. It will be essential for every person to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of AI and how it can affect their daily lives.

Thus, awareness about data, AI, and its implementation will be more critical than ever for everyone. That’s where we see ourselves empowering everyone with essential AI and data education for the future. On the other hand, every company today is a tech company.

Soon, every company will be AI-driven, and we see the DPhi ecosystem playing a major role in enabling them to harness the power of AI with a thriving global AI community. The initiatives we are taking now will go a long way in building AI solutions that’ll make the world a better place to live.

There are the good and bad sides to AI. As an ecosystem, we have got a lot on our plate to define and shape the future course of AI. Our core focus will be to – Make basic AI education accessible to everyone – Build AI for the world with a community-first approach We want to ensure AI is put to use for good responsibly, and we want to drive this with the support of our thriving global community.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Last year, we were humbled to receive a term sheet from one of the prominent VCs in the Benelux region. But before taking that path, we wanted to test the waters, build community, launch products, and get validation.

Giving up a full-time job and investing own capital in the startup involved more risk, so choosing not to taking VC investment was a difficult decision. Looking back, we’ve come a long way in shaping our vision, growing our team and impacting the world.

Other than that, we see common challenges: – Hiring and retaining best talent is a major challenge. – Building a thriving global community and engaging them consistently As a young startup, we run into many challenges, and as a team of problem solvers, our focus is just on solving the problem at hand and learning from the experience.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We are a thriving global AI community with a vision to educate and build AI for all. Come join us here: https://dphi.tech/

Written by Mark Kendall

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