David Karandish is widely recognized as one the top tech founders in the St. Louis startup scene having built and sold Answers.com for $950 million in 2014, followed by his more recent startup Capacity, which has already raised over $23 million through his network of Midwest private and angel investors. The epitome of an entrepreneur and visionary, Karandish remains at the helm as the CEO of Capacity, an enterprise artificial intelligence SaaS company focused on helping teams do their best work. We at TechSTL had the chance to chat with him about his and his company’s journey toward success in the tech industry. (See the Video)
When Amazon Alexa became the top-selling product in the Christmas of 2016, David Karandish saw a new potential for artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace. “I wish I had an AI for the workplace that could help me with onboarding, training, scheduling, all the types of things that I don’t like to do,” Karandish said. Thus, armed with a vision of making work life easier, Karandish started his business, Capacity, in January 2017. The company’s mission is to help automate the entire support experience to provide customers with fast and reliable solutions to their problems. He noted that the need for quick and efficient customer service has been steadily growing, making it essential for Capacity to find a way to make it a reality.
Capacity is an automated support platform that helps automate support for various customers and organizations. Its AI-powered bot can answer a majority of customer questions quickly, and anything it can’t, it seamlessly transfers to a live chat or creates a ticket in the help desk. Karandish highlighted the capabilities of their AI-powered automation platform. “We’ve got an AI-powered bot, when we launched it just a few years ago, it was answering about 55% of questions automatically. Today, it’s right around 90%.” The AI continues to get smarter and Capacity is using it to help revolutionize the way customer service works.
He voiced that large language models like Chat GPT and Google’s Bard are “going to fundamentally transform the way that we work.” Big changes can be difficult. To help get employees more comfortable with, and even embracing automation in the workplace, Karandish suggests focusing on repetitive tasks. He emphasizes that the goal should not be to eliminate people from the equation, but rather to use automated language models to take on the “robot-like” tasks so that employees can focus on the more complex and rewarding ones. Karandish states that automation should be seen as a tool to free up people to do more creative and meaningful work.
Recently, Capacity announced the exciting acquisition of Textel, an SMS platform-based messaging system. Karandish described the acquisition as a “peanut butter and jelly situation,” due to the way that Textel’s current customers could benefit from the services of Capacity. Textel is the premier platform for appointment reminders, marketing messages, and other SMS-related communications. Textel’s customers needed an AI component, like Capacity, to help reduce the amount of manual labor required. Capacity has been actively working on integrating the two companies, keeping both companies in St. Louis.
David Karandish shared with us his long-term vision for St. Louis—a vision that is focused on healing the digital divide and empowering citizens with the tools of technology and entrepreneurship. He has a commitment to bridging the digital divide, which he has set into motion through Create a Loop, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing computer science instruction to students in St. Louis, with a special focus on those from low-income backgrounds. Through Create a Loop, over 550 students have received the opportunity to learn computer science. He said “if we can continue to show kids that technology can be used for creating, not just consuming, you’re going to see more startups here, you’re going to see more tech jobs here. And you’re going to see a better-educated workforce again, regardless of what part of the city you live in.”
Karandish is also taking an active role in investing in startups as well. Through his and his business partner’s venture capital firm, Equity.com, he is investing in startups that will help create real value for the city of St. Louis. By teaching the next generation of St. Louis citizens to use their creativity and knowledge to build tech-driven businesses and by investing in startups, Karandish is sure to bring economic growth and opportunity to the city. We look forward to seeing Karandish’s vision come to life and make a measurable positive difference in St. Louis. For more information, Check out Capacity.com and Textel.net.