Professor Sebastian Stein is the co-founder of Evtonomy, a platform that developed an app that learns the preferences of individual electric vehicle drivers to help them find charging points. It can also adapt to show updates such as when a charging station is out of service and provide estimated waiting times.
The app, which is yet to be launched, is part of a UKRI-funded project on citizen-centric AI systems at the University of Southampton. Evtonomy was co-founded by Dr Elnaz Shafipour, a research fellow at the University of Southampton.
The startup took part in the university’s on-campus accelerator, Future Worlds.
This is an extract from Sebastian Stein’s interview (https://www.uktech.news/news/founder-interviews/evtonomy-founder-sebastian-stein-20230901).
Which company’s growth story are you most impressed with?
The productivity app Notion almost failed in its early stages, because it focused on functionality that users were not interested in. Notion’s founders decided to save costs, pivot and really focus on achieving product-market fit. They succeeded, reaching one million users with funding from their seed round. Now they have over 30 million users and a valuation of $10bn. I’m really impressed by their user-centric approaches, which have clearly contributed to Notion’s success. They’re constantly trialling innovative features like an AI writing assistant that uses the same technology as ChatGPT.
How do you motivate your team?
I believe it’s important for my team members to have autonomy in their work, whether this is about trying new, creative ways to approach a problem or focusing on aspects of the work that they are particularly passionate about. This ensures they remain motivated and ultimately have fun doing the work.
I also try to create a supportive atmosphere at work and make time to speak to team members if they encounter challenges. Finally, creating opportunities for social activities is also important. This could be a team lunch, an afternoon playing board games or a chat over coffee between meetings.
What’s the best way to promote diversity in the workplace?
It’s important to create an inclusive working environment that supports colleagues with different needs and backgrounds. For example, flexible hybrid working and family-friendly meeting times can be a huge help to those with caring responsibilities.
Is there a technology that the world would be better without?
Deepfakes are a serious danger to society, allowing bad actors to impersonate others using convincing video and speech. This can be used in identity fraud, but also to create and spread fake news. Such fake news could cause real harm to millions of people, perhaps even fuelling a global conflict. I think it’s important we invest in research and technologies to detect and counter the dissemination of deepfakes.