An investment by private equity group Liverpool Partners earlier this year has put Sydney-based artificial intelligence, automation and data modernisation service provider SimplyAI on track to build on its heady growth over the past four years.
For Johan Misquitta, one of the four founders of SimplyAI, the investment has come at an important time for the company which has grown its employee base from just one partner in December 2019 to a team of 150 specialists in Australia and New Zealand.
In that time, Simply AI has built more than 1,000 automation and data solutions for clients which include government agencies, insurers, mutual banks, energy companies and health and aged-care providers – with many of these ASX-listed companies.
Misquitta, winner of the Trailblazer and Technology categories of the 2023 Sydney Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, says the partnership with Liverpool Partners has opened doors for SimplyAI that weren’t previously there before.
“It has allowed us to engage with much larger clients and we are now invited at executive decision-maker-level meetings,” Misquitta tells Business News Australia.
SimplyAI is currently undergoing a systems upgrade following the private equity investment that is designed to deliver strategic planning and guidance for the company amid a surge in demand for AI services among businesses.
“It also gives us freedom to work on our products and services,” Misquitta, the SimplyAI CTO, says. “Technology changes so rapidly and we now have the capacity to focus on product creation, R&D - the lot.”
SimplyAI was founded by Misquitta, Anthony Scott, Darren Geros and Jason Catania with Dan Kieran joining the following year, with a mission to help organisations leverage the potential of intelligent automation, data, AI and analytics to grow their business and drive productivity.
The business was formed through an effective merger of two separate startup ideas – one by Misquitta and Scott, who were working exclusively to create AI programs, and another by data specialists Geros and Catania.
After a chance meeting with Geros and Catania to collaborate on an automation and data project, all four decided to join forces to create a unique startup venture that drew on their respective talents in AI and data.
SimplyAI began with just one of the founders on the books and zero capital investment, but it wasn’t long before all came onboard as the business started capitalising on its unique market niche – a company that combines data and AI services to deliver solutions. The business effectively seeks out ways to automate processes, modernise data and leverage AI within organisations.
“There are so many applications for AI, and every company has so much data but doesn’t know how to make use of it and that is where we can help,” Misquitta says. “Our main objective is value creation for the customer.”
SimplyAI’s previous work has included creating AI programs for COVID relief programs for government, streamlining payment processing systems for companies, expediting loan originations for mutual banks and accelerating payouts to policyholders for insurance companies.
“Everything we do is never the same from one project to the next,” Misquitta says.
“While we have IP around components, skeleton, or the framework around the knowhow, everything we do is individually catered to each client’s needs.”
Lifting the load off employees
Misquitta points out that AI is not necessarily designed to replace jobs, but rather to enhance employee productivity.
“AI reduces cost by streamlining processes, but the indirect benefit is that it allows people more time to focus on value adding for their company,” he says.
“Automation takes out of the equation mundane tasks which allows business owners to focus on growing their company, while data modernisation allows them to understand and gain knowledge from data. As the company grows it will need more people, so it’s not about cutting back on staff.”
Misquitta cites SimplyAI’s work with mutual banks to streamline their automation processes.
“It’s done to improve productivity, reduce risk of human error, and it’s designed to be completely auditable so that you know what the automation is doing and there is better understanding of the data,” he says.
“We are doing quite a few projects to assist individuals – for example reviewing resumes. You may get thousands of resumes and you want help summarising them. AI can provide unique reviews on how a person matches the role.”
Ironically, the SimplyAI founders themselves have been slow in adopting AI within their own business, although Misquitta says this has now changed.
“At one point we were managing some projects on Excel but we definitely use AI now as much as we can – especially in meetings where we have AI taking notes for us, as well as for resume reviews, responses to calls and in helping improve employee engagement.”
Employee retention has been a strong point over the past year, with less than a handful of people leaving out of a team of 150.
SimplyAI is also kicking goals in terms of customer retention with Misquitta revealing the company has maintained relationships with close to 90 per cent of its customers since inception.
“We also run support services supporting 300 automation process at the moment though our managed service division,” he says.
Looking ahead, Misquitta sees plenty of opportunity to grow the business in Australia without the immediate need to go global.
“The systems upgrade is largely aimed at helping us to grow rapidly,” Misquitta says.
“But right now, we are heavily focused on product creation and improving on this through new technologies with open AI and generative AI services.”
Growth by acquisitions may also be on the horizon for the group which looks set to increase its workforce to about 200 by the end of FY24.
“Our aim is to continue growing while maintaining the workplace culture that has brought us this far,” Misquitta says.
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