Toby Ruckert is on a mission of giving people back time by creating technologies that enable them to simply communicate and retain ownership of their data.
What’s your story?
In 1994, I used speech recognition to dial friends by voice. Today, resellers use UIB’s APIs to build solutions for transactional and A2P messaging, notifications and alerts, and chatbots. I started UIB with the mission of giving people back time by creating technologies that would enable them to simply communicate, focus attention on what matters, and retain ownership of their data (i.e., conversations with machines). Right now, those choices are limited. In the future, we want to give people choice, whether they decide to own and monetize their data, trust a device manufacturer, or a free (possibly ad-sponsored) service.
What excites you most about your industry?
It’s incredibly satisfying to see my question of “Why can’t we just talk to our things?” grow into the global, multi-trillion-dollar human to machine communications industry. UIB’s partners are using our MSP APIs to access messaging channels and software communication platforms to drive a future where billions of connected devices support trillions of interactions between humans and machines, I truly believe that we are in the golden age of collaboration between human intelligence and Artificial Intelligence. UIB will be the human to machine (H2M) communication exchange, a universal translator, offering complete H2M interoperability between all connected users and connected devices.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
I am a polymath. What inspires me is having a purpose, the opportunity to constantly learn and evolve, my people, to give back, to leverage my abilities, and a sense of duty. I see no limits to our ability to use our creativity to identify problems and to harness technology to solve those problems. While we have more systemic problems than ever — from the Coronavirus to climate change — it helps us, individually and collectively, to look back and remind ourselves how much we have accomplished to inspire us to solve that next “impossible” problem on our list.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Being a business owner at a very young age, I realized that if I could create solutions for my own business’ problems, they would naturally be of interest to other business owners that didn’t have the ideas, the time, or the resources to develop a similar solution. While there may be other classically-trained (https://soundcloud.com/tobyruckert) pianists (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/back-roots-toby-ruckert/) turned AI company CEOs, I’m dedicated to keeping a broad view and open mind towards all things in life, which drives my ability to constantly innovate.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
No matter your current situation, you can always help someone else. I always tell aspiring entrepreneurs to pay it forward. Do it immediately, do it without hesitation, and do it without expectations. I have done this throughout my career and the impact it has had on my businesses and me personally has been invaluable.
Who inspires you?
It depends. Musician? Beethoven. Philosopher? Plato. Polymath? DaVinci. Inventors? Daimler and Bosch. Growing up in Germany surrounded by the engineering and design talent of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and others (Gottlieb Daimler was born one town over), there was always a Swabian culture of “if you understand a problem well enough, you can invent a solution to fix it.” The seed for being a tech entrepreneur was likely planted when I had that first spark of realization. I went from inventing ways to fill the gaps I saw in existing solutions to creating the underlying technologies and the patents that power them.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m intrigued by how many advances have been made at the intersection of science, light, and technology this past year. Researchers achieved long-distance, quantum teleportation and physicists found a magic number that shapes the universe and appears in formulas governing light and matter. China turned on a nuclear-powered artificial sun for the first time and managed to harness particles of light (photons) in a photonic quantum computer. And a new theory was published, further addressing the wave-particle duality of matter by combining the ideas of particles and waves into a concentration of energy that flows throughout space and time.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Before inventing anything, I would have traveled to India to study their history. Having figured out the meaning of 0 and defined and named the atom before the advent of modern science tells me that properly understanding these and other ‘mysteries’ would unable us to invent even bigger things now. From a pure UIB company perspective, if I had to do it over again, I would not take any type of venture funding or investment, unless absolutely necessary. Most VCs destroy value instead of creating it.
How do you unwind?
Strong physical and mental health matters. Many leaders often underestimate taking care of themselves in the process of leading others. If I’m in a bad mood, it can easily affect others and my ability to make good decisions. If I’m not feeling well, I cannot focus and work productively and effectively. There are numerous challenges leaders face and investing in being both physically and mentally ‘fit’ ensures you’re ready for whatever challenge comes at you next. I try to live a healthy lifestyle, eat well, exercise a bit, consciously — and proactively — take breaks when needed, and meditate daily.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I founded my first company in 1999 and for the next decade-plus, I underrated networking and the opportunities associated with it. At the time, it didn’t occur to me how important it is to build a personal network that can be leveraged professionally and have a professional network that I could identify with personally to accomplish both my goals and the increasingly complex projects that came my way. Get out there and build your personal and professional network — be authentic, pay it forward every day without expecting anything in return, and say “yes” to the opportunities that present themselves.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Two books that I recommend everyone read are Jerry Colonna’s Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up (https://www.reboot.io/book/) and Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful (https://www.marshallgoldsmith.com/product/book-2/).
Shameless plug for your business:
UIB’s global partners use our APIs to access messaging channels and software communication platforms. With our patented APIs, they build solutions for transactional and A2P messaging, notifications and alerts, chatbots, virtual assistants, and other conversational user interfaces (including smart speakers, AR/VR, voice, and video). UIB works directly with each platform owner (i.e., we onboard our partners as official WhatsApp ISVs). Our over 30+ connected platforms include WhatsApp (UIB is an official WhatsApp BSP), Apple Business Chat (UIB is an official MSP), Google Business Chat, and many others including integrations into Salesforce, MS Teams, Cisco eGain, and many others.
How can people connect with you?
People can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tobyruckert/.
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series. Every entrepreneur featured has been recommended by one of our previous guests.