Helping DefinedCrowd Achieve Greatness
Andrew Michalik is a man with impressive experience. Originally from the US, Andrew has worked all over the world, in various positions at companies like Sony, Bertelsmann, Nubank.com, and Amazon. He joins our team in Lisbon as the Vice President of Engineering. Andrew has helped two companies evolve from a pre-unicorn to a post-decacorn valuation, a success he hopes to repeat at DefinedCrowd. Read more about Andrew and his history, here!
Give us a brief history of your qualifications and employment
I’m originally from the United States, having lived and worked on both the East and West coasts. I received my Master’s degree in Computer Engineering, which is a combination of Hardware and Software, so I know how to build computers as well as program them. I’ve had my own startup and consulted over a 10-year period with 50-plus companies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. I’ve worked for major corporations such and Sony, Bertelsmann, and Amazon. Most recently, I have been working with billion dollar startups globally such as Grab.com out of Singapore, Nubank.com in Brazil, and now DefinedCrowd.
How did you end up at DefinedCrowd?
Thanks to our wonderful recruiter, Teresa Nascimento, DefinedCrowd found me as I finished up my work at Nubank.com in Brazil and prepared to return to the United States with my family. I was actually planning to take a sabbatical during Covid, however, the opportunity with DefinedCrowd was just too compelling for me to resist.
What attracted you to the position and the company?
Three things: 1) The leadership, particularly as represented by Daniela, our CEO, 2) The incredibly talented group of people that she has brought into the company, 3) The market opportunity we have in the AI Data space, and ability to employ linguists and knowledge workers around the world.
Career highlight and lowlight:
Highlight: I have lots of great stories. One of my favorite moments was getting my first order for $400 dollars at my startup, which was also in the voice processing business. That customer received free product updates for the next 10+ years, and I don’t think he ever knew why.
Lowlight: When I was building satellite electronics, I almost destroyed a quarter-million-dollar flight-approved single board compute, of my own design, because I pulled a 24-hour work shift and left it in the test oven. It turned out to be fine.
What do you hope to achieve at DefinedCrowd?
This year, we are launching three major initiatives that I want to see profitable by the end of the year:
- DefinedData, our AI database marketplace
- Our crowd sourcing service, which lets you find language workers from around the world
- Our Software-as-a-Service data generation platform
What’s the biggest learning you’ve had in your career this far?
Find good people, give them the resources they need, clear any obstacles, and get out of their way so they can do great things.
How do you view the future of AI?
I think we are just beginning to see the potential of Artificial Intelligence on all aspects of our lives. It’s like asking 10 years ago, “What is the future of the smart phone”. It will be beyond our current imagination.
What do your day-to-day tasks involve?
I do attend lots of productive meetings, especially coordinating across time zones! I answer direct messages on our chat channels. I also focus on aligning our Engineering teams with the goals of Sales and Product Management. We’re really focused on this year’s three major initiatives mentioned above.
What did you do on your first day?
Interestingly, early in my career, I was very Microsoft Windows oriented. Over the past 10 years, I’ve been more on the AWS, Google, and Linux technology side. At DefinedCrowd, we use a lot of Microsoft products, so my first day I spent re-acquainting myself with Microsoft tools, which have really come a long way.
What does success mean for you?
From a business perspective, seeing everyone working in a healthy way at their highest potential. From a personal standpoint, achieving my best while keeping a work-life balance. Those are both worthy goals during normal business times, and especially important when dealing with the additional challenges brought on by a Covid-19.
Do you think people realize the importance of data to AI?
Companies, people, and teams are just starting to recognize the need for training data, Gold sets, custom data, and other AI libraries. I think that until recently, data has been an afterthought. Now, however, people are building bots and writing algorithms, and starting to think “How will we test or train this?”. That’s where Defined Crowd comes in.
You’ve lived all over the world. What is it about different cultures you enjoy?
The food for sure! My family and I have been to over twenty countries now, and there are favorite foods we recall from each one. Along with that, it’s been great to see the world through the perspective of our friends born or living in countries outside of the US. I think it’s been great for our children as well to be raised with a global perspective.
What do you do in your spare time?
Last week I stayed in Costa da Caparica, so I went to swim and body surf in the ocean. This week I’m exploring the area near the Time Out Market, so I’ve been walking around checking out the shops and having some great meals. I Facetime by family a couple of times a day, and virtually work on math with my son and talk with my daughter about stock trading. When my family gets to Portugal, I’ll be spending time hanging with my wife, our two kids and two dogs, so I’m looking forward to that.
How do you lead a team or inspire them to success?
One of the conversations I have with my teams is that we are like chefs making a great meal. We have lots of interesting ingredients. What do we want to serve today, and how can we have everyone become part of the process? That for me is the fun of making great software.
Where do you see the future of DefinedCrowd and your role within it?
I’ve helped two companies get from a pre-unicorn to a post-decacorn valuation. That’s a lot of work from everyone, not just my part of Engineering, but Engineering definitely played a strong role in those successes. I hope to repeat this success with DefinedCrowd and help all of us grow along the way.