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Jacob Kihlbaum

Using AI to help companies better understand their future demand, they are able to reduce their overproduction, waste, while improving staffing and logistics. Founder and CEO of Binary Brains and BSc in Retail Management and MSc in Management alum, Jacob Kihlbaum started his company to use AI where it can have a big actual impact both for companies' profit and sustainability, and for the environment as a whole.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I’m the Founder and CEO of Binary Brains, and my role and to-do list on a day-to-day basis has evolved over time. In the beginning, I spent all my time selling Binary to companies. When we grew, my focus shifted towards ending our bootstrapping period and raising capital. Since our latest funding round I’ve been focusing on organizing the company (we went from 8 to 16 employees over the summer) and improving our governance structure (a professional board, reporting to the board and investors etc.). Right now my focus is on scaling our business which means finding the (almost) right strategic path, setting internal goals (OKR’s), and pushing the organization to be even more product-driven. What I’ve always been doing and what takes a lot of my time on a day-to-day basis is to remove all types of frictions for my colleagues making sure they are able to do what they do best.

Binary Brains offer detailed sales forecasts using AI to better optimize the use of different resources by consumer centric companies. By better understanding their future demand our customers are able to reduce their overproduction, waste, while improving staffing and logistics. Binary Brains is an API-first SaaS considered as a brick of lego to be fitted into a customers current tech stack with multiple ready-made integrations. The company now has 20 employees with offices in Örebro, Stockholm and Malmö and customers such as PostNord, ICA and Brödernas.


What motivated you to start Binary Brains? What interested you in using AI to predict sales? 

As a kid I realized that I wouldn’t be able to make a big impact on my own by sending a small percentage of my paycheck to charity (it’s something I still do and still like to encourage of course). As a company however, the possibilities to have a real impact are almost endless. A lot of companies using AI in our close proximity do this to manipulate consumers into buying and consuming even more. I wanted to use AI where it can have a big actual impact both for companies' profit and sustainability, but also for the environment as a whole. Understanding your future demand should be the most important thing for a company that either is producing or selling products to consumers. If you understand your future demand, then you can better avoid both over-production and waste, and increase your profit as a result.


What excites you about your work? Where do you think AI is going in the next 5-10 years?

I’m not an expert in AI (but I have a few experts as colleagues), but AI is more the right tool for the right job, in this case. But instead of speculating what AI can do in 5-10 years, I can speculate on how the market for AI, like ours, will look like. I see a lot of similarities between AI today and web development in the 90’s. Back then, web developers were a sought-after profession to create company websites. Some companies even bought web agencies to get a hold of the competence. This is the case today with Data Scientists. I think there will be a lot of ready-made services integrated everywhere and available for all companies without the need to understand any programming, or creating flows in some tools. AI is just not something you create and deploy, it’s something you need to monitor and maintain. Therefore it is perfectly suited to be offered as a service. 

What excites me is that I think we’re just in the beginning of a boom of demand for a service like ours. I think we have the right business model and we do stuff that is actually valuable to our planet if we succeed to do this on a big scale.


What areas of our lives do you think we would be surprised to learn that AI is either currently taking over or will shortly?

Hopefully many are aware of how algorithms affect what information we are exposed to, but I believe we are a bit unaware of how algorithms work to manipulate us and our behaviors. Social media platforms compete for our attention by creating addictive behaviors. A lot of companies within the field of AI spend their time and efforts on manipulating consumers into consuming even more using recommendation engines and optimizing marketing campaigns. The potential of AI is huge within many fields where it can have a real impact on mankind and planet earth, but there is equally as much potential to make money at the expense of mankind and planet earth. Keep that in mind, and be aware of it.


How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on?

A lot of course, but I’d like to mention three things especially. The first and foremost is my own personal development during my time at SSE. A big leap of personal development was given during the beginning of my Masters in Management. The first two weeks were focused on personal development, reflection and widening of my personal perspective. The second one is the interest in quantitative analysis focused on the retail industry, which I found thanks to my Bachelor in Retail Management. The third things is thanks to Emma Stenström and her education in leadership. I’ve revisited a lot of the education material lately and she was a real source of inspiration for me. 


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students? 

Do what you do best, and follow your inner spirit. You’re free to do whatever you want, it’s never too late, but there will never be a better time than right now to do it (trust me, I waited until I had kids).


What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?

Friendship, inspiration, exploration.