Tom Lev is an entrepreneur with an appetite for accelerating human progress by augmenting human intelligence who founded TomBot AI, a next-gen AI platform. How did he start his entrepreneurial journey into AI? By first learning the fundamentals like math and information systems at Pace University in NYC. There he became inspired by AI – he thought it was going to be one of the most impactful technologies. He had found his niche.
“You could have a job or a career or a calling, and I’m somewhere between a career and a calling. I know that this is exactly what I am supposed to be interested in. I have a strong passion for Chatbots – I think about how knowledge is created and how emotion is created. I love this – I can talk about it all day.”Tom Lev, Founder of TomBot AI
Lev said that getting into AI begins by having a craving for communication technologies. Then you reverse engineer this passion to see how this work is going to change the future. You can see how autonomous enterprises are going to function and how Chatbots, as automated AI assistants, are going to be a great fit. Then the problem is finding the data so the Bot can handle conversational technology.
The cutting-edge innovation of the TomBot is that it has a layer of high self-learning – it teaches itself. This saves hundreds and thousands of training hours that it would typically take to train a Bot.
An interview with Tom Lev
Disruptive Technologists’ own Lauren Keyson sits down for a Quick Byte conversation with this chatbot entrepreneur:
Lauren Keyson: How much value do customers get from a Chatbot?
Tom Lev: This question comes up quite a bit and you must explain it. It’s a huge learning curve. Customers don’t really imagine that there’s something that can replace a human. And they wonder how much automation they are going to get. Are they going to get 15% 20% 30%? Another question customers ask about is pricing. How are we pricing this?
And typically, the answer to that question is: We understand that the AI is replacing a human, so we try to figure it out from there. It’s understanding how much we are replacing the value of someone. Let’s say they live in New York and they’re doing customer service. That will cost them $5,000 a month for a customer service employee. If the Bot is doing 10% of the work, it will save them $500 each month.
LK: Where are you as far as commercializing the technology?
TL: We’re just getting to an exciting point right now, which is Voice. So, you will be able to call a phone number and it is going to talk your language and speak in your language. And like Maslow‘s Hierarchy [Of Needs], you want to feel esteem and importance in your job. And the job of the Bot will be to understand that. You want to feel important, so you will build whole conversation models around giving you that feeling – so that the voice recognizes that, ‘I did this and this and this,’ and it was communicated in a way that was a socially acceptable communication.
So, if it’s a bot that was communicated in an email, and everyone saw it and thought ‘I was able to pick up on that,’ it gives you that feeling that maybe you GOT it. So, you have this nice feeling at work. I think things like that will become more commonplace.
LK: How did your startup begin?
TL: I was born in NY and, my Entrepreneurial career began in college when I pitched my first innovative business idea to the mayor of my hometown, White Plains, NY. The concept was called Ecodog and was an environmentally friendly hotdog cart with a solar panel attachment and biodegradable napkins. After further analysis of the business plan and go-to-market, I concluded it was not advantageous to pursue, and I pivoted my efforts to the software industry.
LK: How did you get funded?
TL: Originally, I had family members help with funding – I did a ‘Friends and Family’ round. After that, I had two uncles that I was close with when I was younger, who were my mentors. They both invested in this company. They saw someone they believed in – someone who was like them but who had a vision. And they thought: ‘He wants to create Something.’ So, they chose me over the idea.
LK: Today TomBot AI serves companies worldwide, such as Rosetta Stone in Virginia, Paula’s Choice in Seattle, and Volvo in Sweden. But it’s based in Israel. Why did you choose that location?
TL: There were two reasons I moved to Israel. One, because I think it’s a fantastic place to build technology – as far as R&D goes, there’s a great culture for that. And second, I wanted to be closer to family.