Today's Entrepreneur: Henry Michaelson

Kristin Karaoglu · July 22, 2019 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4e5f

You will go through periods of success and failure, brilliance and mediocrity

Today's entrepreneur is Henry Michaelson, Co-Founder & CTO of Halla

Halla is an artificial intelligence (AI) company that provides retailers personalized recommendations for food ordering. Halla is helping grocers further explore consumer shopping habits. Halla recently closed $1.4 million seed round led by E&A Venture Capital, along with multi-stage VC investor SOSV. The new funding of Halla will allow them to scale its offerings, gaining more in-depth personalization and forecasting data. 

Henry, co-founded Halla while studying computer science at UC Berkeley. His day-to-day responsibilities involve internal leadership, especially with respect to technology. Michaelson's interests are not limited to food predictions, however. Previous projects include machine learning-based classification of supernovae in the UC Berkeley Astrophysics department, a speaking role in the Warner Brothers blockbuster comedy Project X, a three-year stint as lead guitarist for Joe Banks and a patented algorithm that has distributed over $7M in awards to mobile gamers. 

If you are an entrepreneur, why?

Halla started out as a project between friends to share ideas and collaborate while across the state from each other. It just happened to organically pick up steam until we found ourselves putting in more work on Halla than we did on school. After that, it all fell into place.

What are your favorite startups?

My favorite startups tend to be AI companies that have proprietary technology and the wherewithal to know how to use it to solve real business problems. Both pieces are necessary. The first is knowing what to say and the second is knowing how to say it effectively.

Why did you start your current company?

Halla was birthed as means to connect with two of my best friends as we were very close in high school but drifted apart soon afterwards.

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

The slow, cyclical, process of growth. It is both the best and worst thing about Halla. Since Halla is constantly in flux, there will never be a ‘right’ strategy, approach, or even business. It's constantly changing. It’s very much so like a living thing

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?

Lack of patience and faith

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
  1. You will go through periods of success and failure, brilliance and mediocrity, at regular time intervals. Habit is the best way to insure growth, as a good habit persists on good and bad days / cycles. 
  2. Your mindset / skillset is a function of your team. Much like cells specialize in multicellular organisms, you will find yourself specializing in patterns of thought / approach as the company changes. That is great and is a sign of a healthy business. 
  3. Conflict is the seed of anything good. The best way to solve a problem is to argue about it, constructively, but after the seed is planted, it must take time, and work, to grow.
 
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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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Henry Michaelson

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