J. Kelly Hoey

Innovator Insights: Yu Seo, CEO and Co-founder of @PR_QeeP

Name: Yu Seo Title: CEO and Co-founder of qeep.ai Twitter: @PR_QeeP

Hate to read instructions? So does Yu Seo and thanks to Yu, you may no longer have to read lengthy manuals, with fine print. Her startup, Qeep.ai is an interactive instruction manual with a smart speech interface. It has a powerful documentation conversion algorithm to semi-automatically turn existing documents in S1000D format into speech-related information. Qeep.ai is not her first venture: Yu co-founded her first startup company (www.agilingua.com) in 2006 to offer intelligent speech interfaces.

Me: Why are you an entrepreneur?

Yu: This may be odd to say but it started with love and passion. My partner and husband Matthias Denecke has an exceptional talent in programming, researching, developing and implementing smart speech interfaces. When we began considering becoming independent and starting a business to offer a smart speech interface using Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Dialogue Management, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University and it was 5 years before NLU became a buzzword following the release of Siri on iPhone. So I quit my full-time job and started to work with him.

Me: What problem would you like solved?

Yu: I hate instruction manuals that comes with every product. I don’t want to read how to fix my vacuum cleaner (actually, who wants to?). We provide an interactive instruction app with smart speech interface that guides you to get it done with no hiccups, no guessing.

Me: Advice you’d wished you’d had or had followed?

Yu: You don’t have to be the best, be good is good enough today so don’t wait to start until you are best prepared. Also you don’t have to be able to do everything, as you can find the right people to complement the skills that you have.

Me: What does success look like for you?

Yu: I want to see that our smart instruction guides a grandma who bought a camera to assemble it and shoot pictures with whatever effect she wanted as smooth as it can be.

Me: Who are your heroes?

Yu: My great aunt who passed a few years ago at the age 89. She became a physician and a pediatrician when not many women had higher education than middle school in Japan. Although she has been in a highly competitive, woman-unfriendly medical industry, she was always a relaxed, kind and funny auntie.

Me: What is your best discovery?

Yu: You don’t have to know coding, nor have you to be super smart to be a tech entrepreneur. You just need to be hard working, straightforward and have passion, and believe that you can achieve what you want for sure.

Me: What would the title of your biography be?

Yu: The way an analog girl runs a tech business.

Me: What is your biggest regret?

Yu: I should have figured out how to make the business scalable yet still keep it as my lifework. I thought a scalable business means a fast growth, ending with a happy ending of a buy-out. It took a long time to learn that that is not an end and I can continue what I want to continue, which is to pursue the potential of the smart speech interface.

Me: Anything else we should know about (product launch, crowdfunding or marketing campaign, recent interview, job openings..)?

Yu: We are finishing up an accelerator program (www.startup52.com). We are also looking for pilot candidates. More info can be found at www.qeep.ai.


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