Together with his co-founder Alex Skidanov, Illia is leading a change within the applications of AI, by challenging the established role of developers and creating value for the end consumer.
NEAR.AI aims to unlock advances in all areas of humanity, from business applications to scientific research. Imagine if the domain experts could ask directly to a computer to analyze the required data streams, instead of having multiple meetings with engineers. According to the co-founders, business won’t need to wait for a third-party anymore and, in the future, they will be able to build their tailored solutions.
An ambitious project led by bold minds who are challenging the future.
“It seemed like a good time for a visionary to start doing so”
On the 23rd of July, Pi School had the privilege to welcome Illia to give a masterclass to the participants of the Artificial Intelligence Program. We took the occasion to chat and get to know him better.
Originally from Ukraine, Illia moved to California after finishing his Masters in Applied Math and Computer Science, at the National Technical University “Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute”. In the US, after working in various machine learning projects, he joined Google Research, where he became an Engineering Manager within only a year. Three years later he decides to create his startup.
The seed of the idea behind NEAR.AI started with the programming competitions at High-School and in College in which Illia participated. “In these competitions, you spend a lot of time reading the descriptions of problems and quickly programming it up. We understood that, at some point, this could be done by machine intelligence”.
Illia felt that, as software engineers are solving problems, they are taking very vague descriptions and figuring out how to make them concrete and executable – “and this is what you expect from intelligent systems when people talk about AI.” So he decided to build something that creates value in short term. “Other AI applications have a lot of PR but don’t provide any substance. With NEAR.AI we are building valuable tools for others”.
"Is not starting something that makes me proud, but executing a vision of what that can be. That’s definitely what I’m proud of."
Other than a brilliant engineer, Illia has always had an entrepreneurial mindset, as he wanted to build something new. “I had this idea that intelligence tools would be super valuable for a long time and just was trying to figure out how to best execute on it”.
His message to everyone who wants to become an expert in machine learning is that you can do it, no matter if you are a specialist in one area, or coming from a more generalist background. “Being a specialist in one area like the medical or manufacturing one, for example, allows powering AI with a specialty, bringing more value to a company”, he says. Or, as an alternative “having a broad view, will allow you to be more creative when approaching a new problem”.
Social Media Marketing Specialist, Pi School