Interview: Co-Founder Jonathan Bixby talks about Cykel and the future of AI automated work

Nov 29, 2023

Our Co-Founder Jonathan Bixby talks to StockBoxMedia following Cykel’s listing on the Aquis Stock Exchange to discuss the founding story of Cykel AI and our mission to improve the way people work.

SB: Joining us today is Jonathan Bixby, the executive chairman and founder of Cykel AI. Cykel is now live under the ticker CYK listed today on the Aquis Exchange IPO today. Thank you very much for joining us today. Jonathan, how are you? 

JB: I'm very well and excited to be here, Mark. 

SB: It's good to be talking to you and getting an idea of what the company is all about. On that note, if you can perhaps start us off by just giving us the elevator pitch for Cykel AI. 

JB: I'll start by telling you the founding story which I think will give you a sense of what we're trying to do. Back in November of last year I, like I imagine many of your listeners, was playing with ChatGPT with my children. I realised very quickly that it was incredible and game changing on a number of levels. But what it felt like for me was a Wikipedia that was really smart and that could spout back useful information. It was also a Grammarly in that it could write content that was interesting and in whatever tone I wanted. But what I really wanted at the end of the day was for the AI to “do” something for me. 

My analogy is that the AI is a brain, but I wanted hands. And those “hands” are for accomplishing digital tasks. The foundational insight of this business is that, based on research, knowledge workers spend about 30-40% of their days doing repetitive digital tasks. The question we set out to solve is – how can AI help? Cykel is essentially a task operating system for users engaged in repetitive digital tasks. Let's consider a salesperson for instance, who says "I'm constantly spending time on Salesforce trying to get Mark into a meeting, into a webinar, into an opportunity.” How can that be automated? Or imagine a real estate agent managing properties across various platforms, or an e-commerce professional juggling SKUs and marketing strategies across different platforms. They might ask, "How can a product actually use AI to help me be more efficient in my job?" This is precisely what Cykel does.

SB: Can you give us some tangible or useful real world examples of some of the mundane tasks that Cykel is hoping to solve? 

JB: So when I sit and talk with salespeople, the number one thing that I get back to people is that they want to spend time prospecting, talking and meeting with their customers and closing deals. They don't want to spend time going into Salesforce, creating a contact, and creating an opportunity. All of those tasks are what I would call mundane tasks. So the sales use case is the most interesting one for us. 

SB: How far into development is Cykel? When will we be able to use it?

JB: It is very close. We are in closed beta right now, and 90% of the way developed, and going to market in Q1 2024. But before that, we want to do some closed betas with potential opportunities to work out all the last kinks. 

SB: I wonder if you can tell me a little bit about your USP. What sets you apart? 

JB: We are not the only player. Our biggest competitor is taking a very different approach to what we've done. A lot of the big AI companies are taking what I would call a Web 1.0 approach, which is they're building the data centres, they're building the internet connection, they're building all the heavy iron. And so they need to raise a ton of money to do so. The problem with that approach is it takes a lot of time and a lot of money. And it's a lot of technical risk. So if you look at what our competitors are doing, they're building an underlying natural language processing model for their own company. Frankly, I think that's a mistake. I think the way to go to market is to stand on the shoulders of giants like OpenAI or Anthropic, because they're the ones who have spent billions on the underlying tech. We don't need to build the underlying tech. What we need to do is to satisfy customers and solve business problems. And so when you look at our company, our differentiator is we are going to go to market with the best possible product in those verticals that I discussed earlier. 

SB: Can you give us a size of the market opportunity? I know it's in the many billions, but can you give me a size of the market opportunity in the sort of sector, if you like, or the piece of pie that you'll be targeting? 

JB: The numbers are unbelievable. If you look at the AI market, you're talking about 40 to 50% compound annual growth over the next 10 years on a large base. In the efficiency market, so looking at sales teams, e-commerce teams, basically any sort of repetitive digital tasks we're talking about billions of dollars globally. I don't have an exact number, but it's going to create multiple billion dollar companies, whether those are standalone companies or acquired into some of these large players, time will tell. As you know, consolidation is something that happens in technology every three to five years. I think if we do our jobs right, and we satisfy our customers, we could be a standalone player, or we could potentially be acquired. 

SB: What's the strategy going forward? What's the business model, and how are you targeting your prospective customers?

JB: So the strategy is a freemium SaaS model. So the idea is if you're a salesperson, I want you to use the product and love it. And you're going to tell your buddy that you just closed more deals last week because you used our product. The goal ultimately is to sell enterprise annualised SaaS contracts to CFOs and VPs. But first, we have to go through the freemium bottoms up approach.

SB: Your timeline states you want to launch in Q1 2024 and close out some major SaaS customers. How confident are you that you'll meet your goals? 

JB: I'm really confident. I have yet to talk to a senior leader that is not looking at this technology, that is not curious and doesn't want to try it. I built many businesses on this sort of evangelical sales model where we have to stand behind the technology. But the eagerness to improve efficiency through AI is just a trend that I'm seeing across the board. So I’m very confident in both that and the partnerships that I think we can develop. 

SB: You mentioned that in Q2 you want to close five reseller relationships or partnerships. That's obviously going to be a pretty big focus for the team?

JB: Absolutely. I think this is a perfect product and company on the partner side. So the partnership model and the reseller model, going through existing channels is the way to do this. And we're already having early conversations of great impact with incumbents in those channels. 

SB: Now you've got the IPO away. Congratulations again. And you've got money in the bank. There's just over a couple of months left of the year before you hit Q1 where you'll be hopefully hitting the sales targets. What are the plans for use of funds for the very near term as we go into the new year? 

JB: We're in team growth mode. So we are looking for talent on the sales side. What's really cool about our product is we can eat our own dog food and automate our marketing and our sales using our AI, which is, I think, a clear advantage in terms of the efficiency of our business. But we are certainly looking for some leadership across sales, marketing, and operations. Our tech team is in place building Cykel right now. So we're probably not going to expand the tech team very much. It's going to be the go-to market. 

SB: Thank you very much for your time today, Jonathan Bixby, the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Cykel AI. I wish you all the best as you now hit the market. And I'm sure we'll be speaking in the future. 

SB: Thanks, Mark. Bye.