It’s stories like these that make us at ITC beaming with pride on the journey of Ofir Chakon and DataGen Technologies. Ofir is an alum of ITC’s Cyber Security & Data Science Fellows track, but he is so much more than that.
Ofir began his programming journey at the mere age of fourteen. He studied at the Technion and graduated Cum Laude with a B.Sc and M.Sc Mechanical Engineering which lead him to start dealing with Machine Learning and Computer Vision. He then joined The Startup Leadership Program (SLP), a highly selective world-class program that brings outstanding entrepreneurs from around the world together, to focus on entrepreneurial education. It was at this point that Ofir established his first company ClickFrauds, which provided a fraud detection and prevention solution for PPC online marketing campaigns. Equipped with his academic credentials and experience from SLP, Ofir joined ITC’s Cyber Security & Data Science Fellows track in October 2016.
For Ofir, the ITC Fellows program was exactly at the intersection between Data Science and Cyber Security, he shares – “this matched amazingly to the areas of my company at the time (ClickFrauds). Top lecturers from industry experts along with massive in-depth projects lead me into a deep understanding of both ecosystems”.
Not long after that he was hired by ITC as a Tech Mentor and Enrollment Specialist for the Fellows programs. He provided mentorship and evaluations, and guided the students throughout the course while working closely with the ITC program staff and faculty. He was also the professional authority for screening new candidates for the program. Thanks to his vast knowledge and experience as a Fellow, he was able to give valuable recommendations for screening new candidates. He shares that “As a mentor I was honored to move the needle and make a meaningful impact on many people. I had to opportunity to see talented individuals’ full of potential leveraging themselves with no limits and ending up in key positions at top companies in the industry.” But the close connection Ofir had with ITC didn’t stop here. These days, Ofir is still a regular instructor for both Data Science tracks (NLP and Computer Vision), running workshops and acting as a mentor to the students.
Ofir is now the CEO and co-founder of his second company (with co-founder and CTO Gil Elbaz) of DataGen Technologies, a Data as a Service (DaaS) platform that is a human-centered synthetic data generation platform for AI. What this means is that their customers can request specific visual data from them (photos/videos of humans doing specific actions), DataGen produces it and they can then use this data to train their AI algorithms to reach unprecedented performance. In essence, they produce this data synthetically and make it photorealistic using a mix of graphic engines and algorithms. DataGen recently raised a substantial seed round investment from top VCs (Israeli + American) that allows it to grow and expand. The team currently consists of 12 extremely talented individuals. Pictured below is the computer vision and machine learning that creates photo-realistic visual data to train their algorithms.
ITC is proud to be partnering with DataGen: DataGen is one of the companies that delivers workshops to our Data Science Fellows, recently hosted 2 Fellows during their 6-week project phase, and further offered Nathan Cavaglione a long-term position in the company. Nathan’s project when he first joined DataGen was to create a pipeline for hand pose synthetic data benchmarking. The goal of the project was to evaluate the quality of hand pose synthetic data on training 3D pose estimation algorithms, a pipeline is set up in order to launch efficiently experiments on newly generated data. You can view his one-page report of his project here. Nathan accepted his long-term contract, making this a success on both sides.
We sat with Nathan to interview him and find out more about his project phase and experience working at DataGen with Ofir.
Tell us a bit about your experience of doing the project phase at DataGen.
“It was really fun, I built a piece of software/AI infrastructure of the data generation platform. I built a part called the benchmarking pipeline that is responsible for instantly testing the performance of newly created data on training mainstream AI algorithms. I had quite a lot of freedom and the support I needed during those 5 weeks. I have great memories of it.”
Now that you’ve been hired full-time, what are you working on?
“It is really awesome working there. It feels like a small family with many brothers and sisters. We are always laughing at any time of the day. Everyone knows each other quite well and is close to each other. In addition, there are high expectations and pressure from each other and from yourself to achieve goals/deadlines that we set every two weeks. As Ofir likes to say it, everyone was hand-picked to be here. Everyone here has been chosen to be able to be both a great person to work with and highly productive in his own work. Ofir also supports very much the sense of ownership: the ability to care personally about the work you produce and that others will use, so that you will achieve it with the highest quality possible and maintain it over time, even if it takes you extra hours. I think we were selected to fit with this culture and with the personality of the people on the team and this is why our team works so well.
I am a researcher/developer here so half the time I do research on algorithms and processes that could improve our data generation, half the time I actually build the platform like a regular software engineer would, or integrate new algorithms inside it.”
What is it like working with Ofir?
“Working with Ofir is great. As a person, he is very calm, doesn’t speak more than he needs to, trusts you, helps you when you need, sets clear/realistic deadlines, is flexible with your needs, listens to what you have to say, answers it. As a computer scientist, he is very efficient, he knows a lot and thus has a lot to teach us, has a hacker mentality (great to build a startup!) and is able to have the bigger vision of the whole system we are building (he is the engineering leader!).”
What is amazing for us, ITC team, is to have the opportunity to reflect and catch-up with our graduates, and find out about the valuable working relationships they have created with the companies and their mentors/supervisors.
Watching Ofir’s journey from student to mentor, to founding a company and hiring an ITC graduate, makes a full ITC cycle and makes us proud. We hope to see more of our graduates continue to spread their knowledge, mentors others, start their own companies and hire the best of the best – ITC graduates.
If you are a company that would like to take part in the project phase of the Fellows programs, provide workshops to students or find your next talented hire – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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