don’t be afraid to explore new avenues – TechCrunch

by Jeremy
don’t be afraid to explore new avenues – TechCrunch

I’m a native French data scientist who cut his teeth as a research engineer in computer vision in Japan and later in my home country. Yet, I’m writing from an unlikely computer vision hub: Stuttgart, Germany.

But I’m not working on German car technology, as expected. Instead, I found an incredible opportunity mid-pandemic in one of the most unexpected places: An e-commerce-focused, AI-driven, image-editing startup in Stuttgart focused on automating the digital imaging process across all retail products.

My experience in Japan taught me the difficulty of moving to a foreign country for work. In Japan, having a point of entry with a professional network can often be necessary. However, Europe has an advantage here thanks to its many accessible cities. Cities like Paris, London, and Berlin often offer diverse job opportunities while being hubs for some specialties.

While there has been an uptick in fully remote jobs thanks to the pandemic, extending the scope of your job search will provide more opportunities that match your interest.

Search for value in unlikely places, like retail.

I’m working at the technology spin-off of a luxury retailer, applying my expertise to product images. Approaching it from a data scientist’s point of view, I immediately recognized the value of a novel application for a vast and established industry like retail.

Europe has some of the most storied retail brands in the world — especially for apparel and footwear. That rich experience provides an opportunity to work with billions of products and trillions of dollars in revenue to which imaging technology can be applied. The advantage of retail companies is a constant flow of images to process, providing a playing ground to generate revenue and possibly make an AI company profitable.

Another potential avenue to explore is independent divisions, typically within an R&D department. I found many AI startups working on a segment that isn’t profitable simply due to the cost of research and the resulting revenue from very niche clients.

Companies with data are companies with revenue potential

I was particularly attracted to this startup because of the potential access to data. Data is expensive, and several companies work with a finite set. Look for companies that directly engage at the B2B or B2C level, especially retail or digital platforms that affect the front-end user interface.

Leveraging such customer engagement data benefits everyone. You can apply it towards further research and development on other solutions within the category, and your company can then work with different verticals on solving their pain points.

I advise looking for companies with data already stored in a manageable system for easy access. Such a system will be beneficial for research and development. It also means there’s massive potential for revenue gains the more cross-segments of an audience the brand affects.

The challenge is that many companies haven’t yet introduced such a system, or they don’t have someone to utilize it properly. If you find a company that isn’t willing to share deep insights during the courtship processor hasn’t implemented it, look at the opportunity to introduce such data-focused offerings.

In Europe, the best bets involve creating automation processes.

I have a sweet spot for early-stage companies that allow you to create processes and core systems. The company I work for was still in its early days when I started, and it was working towards creating scalable technology for a specific industry. The questions the team was tasked with solving were already being solved, but numerous processes still had to be put into place to solve many other issues.

Our year-long efforts to automate bulk image editing taught me that as long as the AI you’re building learns to run independently across multiple variables simultaneously (multiple images and workflows), you’re developing a technology that does what established brands haven’t been able to do. In Europe, very few companies are doing this, and they are hungry for talent who can.

So don’t be afraid of a bit of culture shock and leap.

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