The next wave of artificial intelligence is rushing toward the business world like a tsunami. More and more, companies are realizing they need to get prepared or risk being consumed by the swift changes this technology will bring. Jeff Cox is one entrepreneur who decided to get ahead of the trend and founded a company that leverages AI to help its clients increase their customer value.
Jeff is the co-founder and executive chairman of Radius AI, a technology that allows brick and mortar stores to deliver more personalized customer experiences. Prior to founding Radius AI, Jeff consulted and developed technology-based solutions for companies like American Express, McKesson, PayPal, and Apple, to name a few.
In this interview, Jeff shares what inspired him to start Radius AI and why he felt so confident handing off his role as CEO two years after launching. Jeff also explains why he focuses on people, trusts his gut and always strikes up conversations in coffee shops.
Read on for a selection of questions, and listen to the entire interview by clicking the player above.
Would you give some background on Radius AI?
We started this company to help smart cities prevent traffic on their roads, so we developed a technology that could track a person from camera to camera, as well as how long they were in a place, without any personally identifiable information.
We met with the governments, schools, retail stores and eventually decided to use this technology with gas station convenience stores. At gas stations, about 30 percent of people who stop to get gas actually go in and buy something. The goal was just to get it from 30 percent to 35 percent, which could translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars per store. What we do now is help brick and mortar stores generate more foot traffic.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
When you have a business, it is your number one priority which means you have to make a lot of sacrifices in your life, like time with the people you care about. I was coaching my daughters’ softball team and got to a point where halfway through the season I had to scale back to being an assistant coach. I got married in February to someone who is really supportive of my busy schedule, and we work to make time to help the relationship grow. You have to try to balance those things with any job.
What has been one of the best things you’ve been able to do for yourself throughout this entire process?
So many people let their ego get in the way or feel the need to be the superstar. When I started this company, I told my co-founder I would eventually want to move up to being the executive chairman and find a CEO –– somebody who’s better than me and somebody who could take this company to the next level. It’s important to know when you need to step aside.
Now that I am the executive chairman, I can do more marketing, attend events and manage investor relations. By letting our co-CEOs make a lot of the day-to-day decisions, it’s freed me up to do what I love.
Do you have a way that you go about building impactful connections?
Every time I stay at a hotel, I wake up in the morning, go have coffee downstairs and purposely sit by somebody. I don’t care if they’re male, female, old, young, black, white, yellow, blue or purple. You have to get over shyness. Sometimes people just want to read their email or have their coffee in peace, so I don’t try to force them into a conversation. But usually I’ll start with, “Hey, how’s it going, is the coffee good?” If they want to talk, they’ll add to that and you go from there.
What is one piece of advice you would give to fellow entrepreneurs looking to make impactful connections?
I avoid trying to get something out of somebody. Instead, I think about how might I be able to help them. I have a lot of friends, resources and connections. If you can give somebody some kind of help, then maybe things will circle back eventually.
Are you a coffee drinker? I was, but I quit 30 days ago –– cold turkey.
What’s one business tool you’re geeking out over right now? I love Infusionsoft (now Keap).
What is your favorite piece of technology? The Radius AI algorithms and patents.
What’s one book you would pass along to a fellow entrepreneur? I’d have to go with the first book my dad gave me when I went to college, which is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. He said, “Congratulations, I’m proud of you, you got your degree. Now read this book. This is going to be worth more to you than your actual degree.”
Who is one person you’d like to make a connection with? If somebody asked me this last year, I’d say Tony Robbins. I love hearing him talk. But I actually met him and got to talk with him. He’s an amazing man.
How many hours of sleep do you get each night? I’d say five to six. On the weekends, I try to catch up, but usually it’s about five.