Armed with a PhD in artificial intelligence from the University of Innsbruck, Taiger founder and CEO Sinuhe Arroyo, ’11 (EXP-16), came to Booth to hone his vision of building a global AI business. The result: a company that has offices in five countries and is becoming a global leader in cognitive automation for the financial sector.
What was the genesis of your idea for Taiger?
After completing my PhD and my first acquisition, I realized that I wanted to build my own business and play to my strengths. I took some of the research that I had been doing during my PhD and started building a product. In that sense, we are a textbook case of technology transfer from academia to business. Because I had a strong academic background, the transition to run a business was not necessarily easy. However, the Executive MBA Program helped me put the pieces of the puzzle together. You start realizing how you can assemble the business, and everything starts to make sense. You think, “Why is this not working? Why is this like that? Boom, that’s why it’s not working.” And then it just flows. That’s a beautiful feeling.
How did the Executive MBA Program help you acquire new customers?
It boils down to building trust and negotiating. I am constantly negotiating with customers, providers, employees, partners, and investors. Professor Lars Stole set the foundations for me to understand and think in pure economic terms with his Microeconomics class. Also, I really enjoyed my Negotiations class with professor Ayelet Fishbach, where all those concepts from Micro come to life. It was very beneficial to understand the different approaches and mechanisms you can use to negotiate.
How have you set out to make an impact in business?
Making an impact through Taiger means building a company that serves a purpose. There is a human side to that: building that place where people come to work happily, where they feel they are having an impact and changing someone’s life. That’s very important. There was a time I used to measure the impact we were having by the number of children of my employees. That is quantifiable, and rewarding, thinking that those families make a living based on what I started. That is meaningful enough, to me.
What do you miss most about your time at Booth?
The energy. I still miss it. You go there from your country and your daily work, and you’re thrown into this vibrant learning atmosphere where everybody’s contributing and providing good feedback. It’s dynamic and positive.
How did the Global New Venture Challenge help in launching Taiger?
The Polsky Center provided guidance and connections and helped us understand how business is done in the United States. Taiger would not be what it is today without the GNVC, the support of the Polsky Center, and professors Waverly Deutsch and Ellen A. Rudnick.
What advice would you give to alumni who want to start a business?
Work hard. Move fast. Be resilient. Resilience is everything. Set your goals and be unstoppable. I take inspiration from many quotes from the late NFL coach Vince Lombardi, in particular one that says: “The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” That is both necessary and very true for a young business. Sunk costs notwithstanding, of course.
—By Brent White