A force to be reckoned with, Annabelle Kwok is your poster child for what you wouldn’t expect a millennial to be — but more. Armed with a degree in Mathematics and a black belt in Taekwondo, the self-confessed hacker is the CEO of NeuralBay, an AI company. She counts on both luck and curiosity as the two key factors that have led her to where she is now.
It’s a pretty sweet spot to be in — specialising in vision analytics, NeuralBay focuses on detection and recognition software related to humans, objects and text, and offers complementary plug-and-play hardware for image capturing and edge processing. While the specialised consultancy division is based in Singapore, it builds custom neural network models and AI-driven solutions for MNCs across the region.
The company’s a bridge between the academics, engineers and corporations, working with transactional research — which isn’t the easiest of tasks. Bringing concepts from research labs into the context of the real world is tricky. “Researchers often conduct their tests under controlled environments,” she explains.
“Whereas in the real-world, you do not have the option of ignoring certain factors and variables if it doesn’t work in your favour; the complexity increases exponentially.” While translational research is not an easy task, NeuralBay constantly seeks out the best methodologies to build products and services for their consultancy clients.
“Technology has the ability to empower people, and I love how it has yet to reach its full potential — we are merely scratching the surface of it,” says the go-getter, who jokes about wanting to be Marvel comic book character Pepper Potts for a day. “Other than recognising its ability to bring about social changes, as a hardware hacker and software engineer, I enjoy being a creator. It brings me an innate sense of joy when my time, energy and ability goes into helping others through my work.”
And create, she did. Prior to this, she co-founded SmartCow, an AI company that came up with an electronic board that could run various AI software in 2016. Before that, Kwok founded a new department for community growth at Shopee, which was still in its early days.
While she’s clearly on the path to greater things to come, the tech entrepreneur remains grounded. “My aim is not to break boundaries or to be the first in whatever I do,” she shares. “What I really aim for, is to be myself. I am grounded by my values such as honesty, humility, love for others, and as such, my actions are defined by my core beliefs.” But just when you wonder what she does for fun (if at all), Kwok lets out that she’s had a new-found interest in attending music festivals.