Fraiday #7: AI in Business

Fraiday is the monthly meet-up for professionals who are AI-curious. We have a simple format: involving drinks, a theme, lively debate and a group picture.

Some companies outsource their data work, some do it themselves, and some find a hybrid form of cooperation with a startup. For our AI in Business edition of Fraiday, we looked for someone who could embody several approaches that corporates can have towards AI. We found exactly that in Tijmen Blankevoort from Scyfer, whose story reads like a fairytale, ending in the recent acquisition by Qualcomm.

Tijmen sat down with interviewer Jim Stolze in an “inside the actor’s studio” like setting to tell us something about his background and how he got where he is. There where quite some things that you wouldn’t expect from a CTO at a former tech startup! Did you know for example that Tijmen was a contestant of “beauty & de nerd”, or that he studied Japanese before he started his study of mathematics?

One of Tijmen’s teachers, Max Welling, a famous professor of AI, was approached to participate in a competition that was organized by ING Bank. Taco and Tijmen, two students at the time, won against software teams with big budgets. Jörgen, the organizer of the competition at ING, knew what to do right away. Jörgen joined the students and their teacher, to form a company that was to be called Scyfer.

With Scyfer he became very successful because of the great working relations that he has with his colleagues. He told at length about all the lessons he learned along the way. At some point, they attracted the attention of several large companies that wanted to acquire them. Ultimately, it was Qualcomm that managed to bring in a convincing bid.

After the talk, there where many animated questions from the public. Both from a practical and a philosophical angle. Actually, there were so many questions that we were at the Startup Village beyond closing time.

Were you there? Check out the photos on Facebook and stay tuned via for fresh meetup announcements!

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