Victor Haine Takahashi: How AI Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Stay informed about emerging trends and advancements in AI to anticipate future disruptions and opportunities. Keep abreast of developments in AI research and technology to identify potential applications and areas for innovation.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Victor Haine Takahashi.

Victor Haine Takahashi is a multi-time founder and technology executive. He currently serves as Head of Engineering for TrueBuilt, an innovative computer vision startup based in Huntington Beach, CA, and backed by leading PropTech VCs. TrueBuilt Founder Jon Sibley recruited Victor to accelerate the development of the company’s AI-based Preconstruction solution for general contractors and subcontractors. TrueBuilt currently works with some of the US’s largest builders, helping streamline costs and boost profitability. Before joining TrueBuilt, Victor was the CTO at Carbonext, an innovative carbon credits technology company where he grew the team from 1 to 150 employees while leading multi-cloud strategies and the creation and enhancement of B2B and B2C platforms for the Carbon Credits market. Victor was also instrumental in raising the $40M Series B round from Shell — one of the largest ever in climate tech in Brazil.

His entrepreneurial spirit was evident early on. Victor was also the founder of Filme Filme, a pioneering user-centric streaming platform, and founder of INDEVS, a forward-thinking IT consulting firm in Brazil. Victor’s greatest strength and fulfillment is identifying market needs and responding with innovative technological solutions. Victor holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering and an MBA in Financial Engineering.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Absolutely, and thank you for having me in this interview series. My journey into the tech industry, particularly in AI and software engineering, is both a blend of passion and strategic decisions. From an early age, I was fascinated by the capabilities of technology and its potential to solve complex problems. This curiosity led me to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering, where I honed my technical skills and gained a solid foundation in software development. My career path truly took shape when I embraced the entrepreneurial spirit, founding INDEVS, a company dedicated to providing innovative IT consulting in Brazil. This experience was instrumental in shaping my approach to technology, focusing on creating solutions that address real market needs.

Transitioning to a role in environmental technology, I joined Carbonext as the CTO, where I led the team to significant growth, scaling from 1 to 150 employees. This role underscored the importance of technology in addressing critical global issues, such as climate change, and it honed my leadership and strategic skills, particularly in managing large teams and steering companies through rapid growth phases.

My journey then led me to TrueBuilt, where I was recruited to accelerate the development of an AI-based solution for the construction industry. This role combined my passion for AI with my interest in driving innovation in traditional sectors, demonstrating the transformative power of AI across various industries.

Throughout my career, my guiding principle has been to leverage technology not just as a tool, but as a catalyst for change and innovation, continuously looking for ways to make a meaningful impact on society and industries.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

TrueBuilt is an exciting Construction-Tech company, currently building computer vision and AI solutions for commercial general contractors and subcontractors in the US. I was excited to partner with the Founder, Jon Sibley, who at the time had identified a key pain point in the construction industry: the continued material/labor pricing volatility and the rising cost of building meant that it was extraordinarily difficult to estimate the cost of a new construction project accurately. Meanwhile, existing software solutions were highly fragmented, inefficient, and often on-prem. After talking with Jon, I realized that a computer vision-based solution to read and analyze blueprints at speed could help drastically improve the builder’s conceptualization and profitability of a new project. We have developed a platform that provides contractors with takeoff, estimation, and bid management solutions in one cloud-based, AI-driven platform.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Three character traits instrumental to my success are resilience, adaptability, and visionary leadership. For example, during my time as the founder of Carbonext, we faced numerous setbacks and challenges in developing our platforms and the carbon credits market overall. However, instead of being discouraged, I remained resilient, pushing through obstacles and learning from failures to ultimately achieve success. One instance was when our initial prototype failed to meet performance expectations, and rather than giving up, I led the team in conducting a thorough analysis of the issues, iteratively improving the design, and eventually achieving breakthrough results in our B2B and B2C solutions.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line?

AI is disrupting the construction industry by revolutionizing project planning, risk management, and quality control processes. This disruption ultimately helps our bottom line by enabling us to optimize efficiency, reduce costs, and deliver superior results to our clients. For instance, by leveraging AI algorithms to analyze historical project data and predict potential risks, we can proactively mitigate issues before they escalate, saving both time and resources.

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

The specific AI technology that has had the most significant impact on our industry is TrueBuilt’s innovative computer vision AI, which can read and analyze blueprints at scale. This technology revolutionizes the construction process by automating the tedious task of manual blueprint interpretation, enabling faster and more accurate project planning and execution. By leveraging advanced machine learning algorithms, our computer vision AI can extract key information from blueprints, such as room dimensions, material specifications, and structural details, with remarkable precision. This breakthrough technology not only streamlines the preconstruction phase but also enhances collaboration among project stakeholders, leading to more efficient workflows and higher-quality outcomes. As a result, TrueBuilt is at the forefront of transforming the construction industry by harnessing the power of AI to drive innovation and productivity.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

A pivotal moment when I recognized the profound impact AI would have on our sector was when we saw another startup company successfully implementing AI-powered predictive maintenance in one of our construction projects. Seeing how AI could anticipate equipment failures and prevent costly downtime convinced me of its transformative potential. And then I thought: that’s what we need for build for TrueBuilt, but for earlier in the construction workflow, applying AI since the blueprints.

How are you preparing your workforce for the integration of AI, and what skills do you believe will be most valuable in an AI-enhanced future?

We’re prioritizing and fostering a culture of continuous learning and skill development. We invest in training programs focused on data analysis, programming, and AI technology to equip our employees with the necessary skills to thrive in an AI-enhanced future. An example of this is our AI Bootcamp initiative, where employees have the opportunity to participate in hands-on workshops and learn from industry experts. By empowering our team with the knowledge and tools they need, we ensure they can effectively leverage AI in their roles.

What are the biggest challenges in upskilling your workforce for an AI-centric future?

The biggest challenges in upskilling our workforce for an AI-centric future include overcoming resistance to change, addressing concerns about job displacement, and ensuring equal access to training opportunities for all employees. One approach we take to address these challenges is by fostering open communication and transparency about the benefits of AI adoption and the potential impact on job roles. Additionally, we offer tailored training programs and resources to support employees in acquiring new skills and transitioning to AI-enabled roles.

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

The main concerns are data privacy, algorithmic bias, and job displacement. We tackle those by implementing robust data governance practices, promoting diversity and inclusion in AI development teams, and prioritizing responsible AI deployment. For example, we conduct regular audits of our AI systems to identify and mitigate biases, and we are committed to transparency in how we collect, use, and protect data.

What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”?

1. Embrace innovation and invest in AI technology to stay competitive. For example, by adopting AI-driven tools for project planning and risk management, we can enhance productivity and deliver better outcomes for our clients.

2. Foster a culture of learning and adaptability to facilitate workforce upskilling. Encourage employees to embrace lifelong learning and provide opportunities for continuous skill development in AI-related areas.

3. Collaborate with industry peers and experts to share best practices and insights. Participate in industry forums, conferences, and knowledge-sharing initiatives to stay informed about emerging trends and advancements in AI technology.

4. Prioritize ethical AI development and deployment to ensure responsible use of technology. Implement guidelines and frameworks for ethical AI design, and regularly assess the impact of AI systems on stakeholders and society.

5. Stay informed about emerging trends and advancements in AI to anticipate future disruptions and opportunities. Keep abreast of developments in AI research and technology to identify potential applications and areas for innovation.

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

One common misconception about AI within our industry is that it will replace human workers entirely. In reality, AI is meant to augment human capabilities, not replace them. We address this misconception by emphasizing the importance of human-AI collaboration and highlighting the unique strengths that each brings to the table. For example, while AI can automate repetitive tasks and analyze data at scale, human judgment and creativity are still essential for decision-making and problem-solving in complex construction projects.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” is “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts” by Winston Churchill. This quote resonates with me because it reminds me that success and failure are part of the journey, and what truly matters is the resilience and perseverance to keep moving forward despite obstacles. An example of this in my life is when my previous startup faced a major setback due to market changes. Instead of giving up, we pivoted our strategy, learned from our mistakes, and ultimately achieved success by staying true to our vision and persevering through challenges.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

Thoughts of ensuring the well-being of our team, meeting client expectations, and staying ahead of industry trends often keep me awake at night. These thoughts influence my daily decision-making process by driving me to prioritize collaboration, innovation, and strategic planning to address challenges and seize opportunities. By staying proactive and agile, we can navigate uncertainties and position TrueBuilt for long-term success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, it would be to promote universal access to quality education and skill development opportunities. By empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, we can create a more equitable and prosperous society for all. Through initiatives such as mentorship programs, vocational training, and online learning platforms, we can unlock human potential and drive positive change on a global scale.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.