Edition 9: Humans of Build Club

An inside peak inside the arena, spotlighting top ANZ AI Builders, tinkerers and founders

Edition 9: Humans of Build Club

An inside peak inside the arena, spotlighting builders turning their dreams into reality.

Humans of Build Club

[Edition #9] Interview with Katerina Karanikolopoulos, with Rebecca Williams & Annie.

Welcome to the 10th edition of the Humans of Build Club newsletter, a series spotlighting the authentic human story of ambitious AI builders 🚀👩‍💻⚙️ Sign up for new stories!

This week, we’re chatting with Katerina Karanikolopoulos, who is the extremely talented and inspiring founder of Stradegio.ai. Stradegio’s vision is to make every minute of a meeting matter while helping you grow your success in achieving outcomes. Read on to learn more about Katerina’s journey and pharmacist to corporate strategy to founder journey!

How did it all start? What was the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey like?

I never thought I had it in me to be an entrepreneur.

I definitely never thought I would be creating a tech startup.

I certainly never thought I would be a builder, building my tech platform myself.

I’m not what people would picture when you think about AI builders. I started my career as a pharmacist (thanks to family pressure that this was a “good career for a woman”). A career which I quickly left for new challenges in the corporate world across commercial and strategic roles. My last corporate role was leading the Corporate Strategy function for Bupa APAC.

So how did I end up founding a tech startup? What changed?

I guess I changed.

Two years ago as an over 40 Mum of a 10 year old boy, I took a work sabbatical. Working through covid-19 lockdowns while home schooling was the cherry on top that told me I deserved a short break after all my years of corporate life.

Stepping out of the daily corporate merry-go-round of meetings and powerpoint decks changed me. It gave me space to reflect and see the world differently.

With a keen interest in innovation, during my break I did an entrepreneur program. At the time I didn’t see myself seriously becoming an entrepreneur, I thought I would most likely end up on the investment side rather than the founder side of the ecosystem.

That all changed of course.

When the inspiration for Stradegio struck I was hooked and couldn’t let it go. I wanted to solve the problem of meeting overload. I started tinkering with AI to bring my vision to life. Before I knew it, having failed to find the right tech partner, I had built the Stradegio web-app myself.

What inspires you as an entrepreneur?

As a founder, two things inspire me. Firstly, to make working life better for knowledge workers by cutting time in meetings while growing success in outcomes. If the Stradegio tools and ways of working where the norm when I decided to take a career sabbatical, maybe I wouldn’t have felt that life was a constant trade-off between between “me”-time, “family”-time or “work”-time.

Secondly, I believe you shouldn’t need experience in strategic tools, influencing stakeholders or an MBA to make an impact at work. My mission to make this know how and experience accessible via Stradegio drives me on the days when I’m tired or a problem seems insurmountable.

Of course it also helps that I am loving every minute of the challenge, the complete autonomy and the multitude of skills I’m learning along the way.

How do you acquire your technical expertise for the projects you work on?

As a non-technical founder, who has had to become technical, I found I learn through doing. My first foray into coding was a Prompt Engineering For Developers course by DeepLearning.ai - I just threw myself in the deep end and worked it out from there by troubleshooting problems with a combination of reading documentation, asking ChatGPT or searching forums.

Being part of the Build Club community helps me stay across what is happening in the world of AI, learn from the community and get help from peers when I need it.

I don’t try to know everything - the pace of change in AI, coupled with the demands of building a business as a solo-founder make this impossible.

Instead, I focus mainly on understanding the “art of the possible” and then asking:

  • How does this apply to my specific problem/solution?

  • Will this materially improve the customer experience or create superior value for my users?

  • Will this create a differentiated positioning in the market?

I only go deeper to acquire the expertise if it could make my solution dramatically better for my users in a differentiated way.

Can you recommend any books, podcasts, links that have helped you on your builder journey?

1. For customer conversations that help you figure out whether something is really worth building - The Mom Test

2. To solve for Product Market Fit - First Round’s product market fit method https://pmf.firstround.com/

3. For rapid experimentation ideas - Testing business ideas: A field Guide for Rapid Experimentation (Strategyzer)

What are you most excited about right now?

As someone without a technical or data science background, I’m excited that acquiring tech skills is becoming more accessible thanks to AI coding co-pilots, the increasing sophistication of no/low code development tools and a flourishing open source tech community. This means that building a tech start-up as a non-technical founder is a possibility for people like me.

What are you building right now?

I’m building Stradegio.ai. We make every minute of a meeting matter. Our vision is to cut time in meetings while growing your success in achieving outcomes. We do this by helping you engage teams to collaborate strategically towards clear goals.

The first feature is inclusive team input tools to capture and analyse input efficiently so you get to the heart of a discussion faster - be this a retrospective, daily stand-up (coming soon) or a decision meeting.

Do you have an ask for people reading this post?

I am looking for co-founders who are as excited about the Stradegio problem space as I am.

Whether your skills are in GTM, marketing, community building or technical, reach out if you want to chat.

You can stay up to date with Katerina Karanikolopoulos’s builder journey by following their LinkedIn here

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