EARLIEST ENTREPRENEURIAL MEMORY: As a 10 year-old, collecting swag from conferences adults in my life attended, and re-selling it to neighbors! SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME LAUGH: When anyone in the room laughs (I don’t need a reason!) SOMETHING PEOPLE DON’T KNOW: English is my fourth language.
A love for building that evolves into something bigger
SMALLER COMPANIES MAKE BIGGER IMPACT. Alex Capecelatro was in the process of selling his software company Hyphos, and assumed he would have to jointhe acquirer. But he didn’t feel that was the place for him.At the time, he was building a new home, and his friend Tim Gill reached out to himsuggesting they take their voice-controlled home assistants to the next level. “I neverwanted to join a company just to make money. I want to join a company that canmake an impact,” Alex says. “By adding artificial intelligence to voice-controlled homeassistants, it elevates the entire category.”And so Alex sold Hyphos without joining the buyer and instead formed Josh.ai withTim. Josh.ai is a voice-controlled home automation system built to support naturallanguage voice commands and control and connect any “smart” device, from anyother device.A key goal he wanted to achieve with Josh.ai is to create an environment whereeveryone genuinely enjoys working for the company. People do their best work whenthey don’t feel like the odd one out, such as being the only minority or the only gayperson, Alex notes.
THE LOVE OF BUILDING. Alex was not out in 2011 when he started Hyphos, anddidn’t come out until 2015, just as he was about to start Josh.ai. Alex decided heneeded to do things right from the beginning with Josh.ai. “At some point, you needto be honest with your investors.” He became involved with StartOut, a nonprofit thatempowers LGBT entrepreneurs. It was an easier transition to being out as an entrepreneur because the nature of introductions was through being LGBT, he says.“There’s this notion that employees really thrive when they think like the owner,because everyone takes a sense of ownership with the company,” Alex says. Bothhe and his co-founder Tim let it be known that they were gay, which had the happyresult of attracting the best talents to Josh.ai. As Alex says simply, “If anyone has anissue with my being gay, don’t come work here.”Tech has historically been the bastion of the straight, white male. But the soonercompanies can put it on the table that they embrace diversity, the sooner they canidentify their biases and elevate their hiring process. “We’re about qualifications, andthere are qualified people of all genders, ethnicities and backgrounds.” Having openconversations about biases helped the company recognize that it had only beenlooking at resumes from the same, usual crowds. This realization helped steer theteam into looking for overlooked talent, he says.