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"Openly communicating with your coworkers will help you to build a stronger team overall"
Today's entrepreneur is David Karandish, Founder & CEO of Capacity, an enterprise artificial intelligence SaaS company focused on helping teams do their best work. Capacity’s secure, AI-native knowledge sharing platform captures, mines, and connects organizational knowledge to maximize employee productivity.
The company has raised $23.2 million, including a $13.2 million round from a Midwest network of private and angel investors, including Rice Park Capital Management LP.
Prior to starting Capacity, Karandish was the CEO of Answers Corporation. He and his business partner Chris Sims started the parent company of Answers in 2006 and sold it to a private equity firm in 2014 for north of $900 million.
Karandish sits on the boards of Varsity Tutors (an on-demand, real-time learning platform in the ed tech space), Create a Loop (a computer science education non-profit tackling the digital divide by teaching kids to code), and Prepare.ai (a non-profit providing educational resources and strategic guidance about Artificial Intelligence to individuals, communities, and companies).
He lives in St. Louis with his wife, Erin and four kids. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and playing ukulele.
Achievements (products built, personal awards won):
I am the former CEO and Co-Founder of the parent company of Answers.com, in 2014 my co-founder Chris Sims and I sold the company for north of $900 million.
I was on The Martha Stewart Apprentice and I believe I still hold the record for the youngest contestant on the show. I didn’t get a chance to meet the future president but we can debate if that was a bug or a feature. :-)
In January 2017, I launched Capacity (formerly Jane.ai) an AI-native knowledge sharing platform as the enterprise solution to informational blindspots.
In 2019, Capacity won pitch competitions at the Unleash Conference and the Invest Conference.
If you are an entrepreneur, why?
I’ve always been excited about building something that benefits a larger group of people. Back in high school, my dad’s company was throwing away its old computers. He brought one home, gave it to me and I started to learn how to code. I met my best friend in physics class and we started a web design business together. It failed, and so did the next few start-ups we built through high school and college, but we leveraged all of our experiences — the successes and failures — to build Answers.com, and now to create a new platform, Capacity, in a new category: enterprise artificial intelligence.
My favorite startups:
I’m fans of Tesla and inVision. Tesla for the grand scale of what Elon and crew are trying to accomplish and inVision for building a beautiful, useful product I use daily.
Why did you start your current company?
In the modern office, we waste up to a third of our day just looking for information. We are constantly switching tasks, switching contexts and getting interrupted. It’s making work harder and our daily lives more stressful.
I came up with the idea for Capacity because I was tired of how many emails I had to send or people I had to ask to get even a simple piece of information like, “When did we last adjust a team member’s compensation?” I was frustrated that Netflix knew more about my preferences than the software we used at work. I knew there had to be a better way. I saw the rise of platforms like Siri and Alexa in the consumer space and suspected that a similar concept could succeed in the workplace.
We created Capacity because we envision a world where all of your company’s intelligence is accessible, everywhere: your apps, your documents and the knowledge of your team. At first, Capacity is here to help eliminate waste from our day-to-day lives. But over time, what the platform focuses on is freeing us up to use our talents and gifts to do our best work.
What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?
One of the most rewarding things about being an entrepreneur is when your idea begins to grow and gain momentum, your team expands, you see real customers use your products and your vision begins coming to life.
One of the most frustrating parts is knowing what you need to build, but never feeling like we are moving fast enough.
What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?
They give up when things get tough. There will come a time in your company’s life span where things will be difficult and you will be tempted to throw in the towel. Maybe a huge contract falls through, or you’re fundraising in a recession, or your family life is stretched. Entrepreneurship is not a 9-5, or even 7-11 job. No matter how hard you work, there’s always more you know you could be doing to drive the business. You will find yourself asking, in those dark hours, “Is all this worth it?”
I’m here to tell you: yes, it is.
You will learn more about yourself than you ever would working for someone else. If you are passionate and have a dream, don’t ever give up.
What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
One-on-one meetings with your team are important: One-on-one meetings are great because it allows for individuals to build better relationships with their managers. It’s also a great way to encourage collaboration and honesty. In one-on-one meetings employees will often feel more comfortable sharing a new idea or something that is concerning them.
Over Communicate: In the game of “corporate telephone,” a lot can get lost in translation. Lack of communication can lead to unnecessary conflict among your team and a slow-down in productivity. Openly communicating with your coworkers will help you to build a stronger team overall.
Email is the gateway drug of work: Take an email sabbath. 24 hours of no email a week and you will be well on your way to a much more balanced life.
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Capacity is a secure, AI-native knowledge sharing platform that empowers teams with instant access to the knowledge they need to do their best work. Capacity connects to enterprise apps, mines company documents and spreadsheets, and captures the tacit knowledge of an organization. Capacity was founded in 2017 by David Karandish and Chris Sims, and is part of the Equity.com incubator.