We caught up with Jack Lewis, Co-Founder of Ada Mode, working to improve the performance of complex industrial processes through artificial intelligence, data science, engineering expertise and design thinking.
The purpose of article series ‘Product | People | Potential’ is to feature and showcase the very best UK start-ups with grand potential, truly inspiring businesses that are shaking up their sector. We capture and share the stories behind the name. We collate authentic peer to peer real talk, while celebrating the growth and success thus far and gather a glimpse of what’s ahead.
Jack: I’m Jack, one of the co-founders of Ada Mode – a company that develops AI/Machine Learning technology to make industrial processes cleaner, safer and more efficient. We mainly specialise in clean energy and utilities but are also seeing interest from manufacturers who want to improve product quality and reduce waste. We are a team of engineers and data scientists and like to think that establishing a good understanding of the engineering challenge, then applying our technology to solve the problem is what our customers find most compelling. We develop bespoke solutions and work quite collaboratively with the customer to solve the really complicated operational problems. We have a great mix of technical skills on the team. I suppose we are in a growth phase and have just hired our 9th member of the team.
Jack: The founders have known each other for a while and shared the same vision of developing a company where we could focus our energy on work we found interesting and that could support wider proliferation of clean energy. We also wanted to create a business that people were proud to work for and where strong values were central to its growth. We all have a background in engineering and data science and felt that combining the two in the form of Ada Mode would enable us to build a really exciting product and service offering that could support a wide range of customers. The company was born in the Tally Ho pub in Hungerford!
Jack: All the roles we have recruited for have been quite specialist, requiring people who have really good experience or have been through a lot of training, or both. That’s the nature of what we do, I guess. I think the main thing, particularly for a company of our size, is to be really patient and make sure everyone involved in recruitment is 100% certain with the hire. At the early stages of growth everyone new can really influential on decision making within the business so its hugely important that anyone new is bought into the vision and values. Any doubt, then wait, would be my advice. We’re also really keen on trying to keep a diverse workforce but this isn’t always easy a) in a small company and b) within the world of engineering. I’d love to hear from people who have made some good progress with building a diverse workforce in a technical sector.
Jack: B2B sales cycles are very long and it has taken us some time to get used to this! Again, patience is absolutely key here! A core value of Ada Mode is to establish strong customer relationships which helps us to both provide really good solutions to customer problems but also enables us to discern common themes within a market sector. Although a lot of the themes are consistent, specific customer problems require a tailored solution and this is where we have focused our effort – bespoke solutions built off an established development framework. Its not for everyone, but its what we love doing and where a lot of value can be unlocked for the customer.
Jack: This is an area that’s evolving all the time. The nature of what we do means we can’t provide an off-the-shelf product that solves a wide range of problems. We work on complicated plants in diverse locations that are operationally unique and require a tailored approach. I think in some aspects the market will adjust slightly to become more accepting of hybrid AI ‘products’ where an initial onboarding phase is required to tune performance. The balance of high-performance vs ‘easy to buy’ for AI solutions like ours is a really interesting area and I’d love to speak to companies who are in a similar boat. Having said that, we are in the middle of a really exciting product development process for our wind-turbine health monitoring platform. This has grown and strengthened our internal software development capability which has been really interesting.
Jack: Luckily, we’ve managed to grow without external investment to date, but it is something we’re thinking about – particularly for the growth of our wind-turbine product.