October 22, 2018
Davis Sawyer is an established entrepreneur, educated chemist, community volunteer and co-founder of Deeplite, a TandemLaunch startup whose vision is to make artificial intelligence more accessible and affordable to benefit everyone’s daily life.
Davis is a burst of energy which isn’t surprising since he has already had an extensive career in a very limited amount of time. Davis is one of the youngest founders at TandemLaunch and will most likely have a long career ahead of him. Davis is a true hustler, so we hope you enjoy learning the tips and tricks that have driven him in his journey.
1. Don’t give up on the hard stuff and make sure you don’t give in to the easy stuff either.
When we started building Deeplite, we had to try to validate what the business model would be like, and at one point we had to look at what kind of customers we could handle with our technology. We started identifying a crop of use cases around computer vision from the get go to get early revenues and make our impact in the marketplace. After a while we noticed that the problems we were about to take on weren’t high-value problems and that they wouldn’t build a high growth company. We had to make the choice of not giving in to these easy applications and attractions and we never did. I think to some extent to make a point, and the hard part was to constantly have to sit back and bite my tongue and not give in to the temptation of personal gratification for tangible results. Instead, we had to bet on the future and believe that the vision we had would pay off in the long run. In hindsight, I have understood that not giving in to the easy stuff has been important to the success points of our venture. Thankfully, it paid off because now we can service the clients we want and have a sustainable growth.
2. Never take anything for granted, always assume that it is someone’s life work and treat it with respect.
Not taking things for granted eliminates the risk for disappointment and assuming that things are people’s life work keeps me humble, which is always important. However, it’s even more important to remember the emotional element of technology, because I think that it is often forgotten. I think it’s important to try to understand what the emotional payoff is when meeting people in tech. Instead of only focusing on the details, I try to remember to affect the person I meet emotionally because that is one of the few ways a person can impact another. If I manage to do that, then the chance is greater that the message will come across to the end recipient. So I try to connect with people by reading the person I meet because, as humans, we are pretty good at that!
3. Never treat people as anything less than your equals.
I have seen friends of mine doing things and going places I never would have expected, for good and bad. I think it is particularly important early on in a career to treat people respectfully because you simply never know what the future holds. I just met a guy here in Montreal that was co-founding a co-working place that grew up on the same street as me in Texas. You never know what any type of encounter can lead to in the future.
4. Go your own way and work hard to make your own mark.
You see these success stories all the time, someone just raised a big funding round, someone just had an exit, and so on. I constantly used to analyze and reverse engineer how to get there, but life isn’t like that and one of the most fundamental realizations for me was “It’s your own story, be your own THAT” and that is really tough because as people we want a pathway. If you do that, you will get there. I believe that the best investment is in yourself. You might lose friends, you’ll make bad decisions, the education maybe wasn’t what you expected and so on, but if you keep investing in your own story, it will pay off.
5. Work with people that compliment you and your abilities.
This is kind of the origin story of Deeplite. I remember at the end of the qualification phase, I had not chosen a project yet. I saw Ehsan pitch the initial idea of what is now Deeplite and what I saw was, not only potential in the technology but also in Ehsan’s “THAT” was the yin-yang image of what I knew and believed in and what he was capable of. We are completely different, so I think both of us had to take a leap and trust in each other’s differences. We use our differences every day, in meetings, presentations, and negotiations. It’s invaluable because you are literally looking at two sides of the equation and that gives us a huge advantage.