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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2022

A strategic AI services provider that gives companies the AI advantage: KUNGFU.AI


When serial entrepreneur and former VC Stephen Straus considered his next business venture, the idea for the company blossomed. Based on his experience as a venture capitalist through the boom and bust in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he sensed real parallels between the Internet and the unfolding of the AI revolution. An amazing opportunity struck him — builds an industry-defining professional services firm to help companies lead in the new AI economy.

Through networking, he was referred to co-founder Steve Meier, who had a strong sales and marketing background, and technical co-founders Ron Green and Zhangzhang (ZZ) Si, who both have deep machine learning domain expertise. Since 2018, KUNGFU.AI has flourished in terms of people, revenue, clients, and areas of focus.


At KUNGFU.AI, the team knows that realizing significant returns on AI investment involves much more than building models. It includes learning how to leverage AI as a competitive lead in your business and sustaining that advantage into the future. AI can radically transform your business, but finding success with AI isn’t straightforward. That’s where KUNGFU.AI can help. While building AI strategies for its clients involves envisioning the future, KUNGFU.AI grounds its methodology in a deep understanding of the people who shape everything: the team who generates your data, the designers behind your AI models, the users who interact with your AI tools and products, and the leaders moving you into a future where AI is at the center of a new economy.


AI has the power to radically improve the performance of your business. It’s advancing rapidly and unlocking new opportunities every day. But many organizations lack the experience and in-house expertise to successfully deploy AI. That’s where KUNGFU.AI’s team comes in. KUNGFU.AI’s team are experts in AI, machine learning, software engineering, and more, that are consistently learning and leveraging the latest research in order to develop bleeding-edge solutions to address your business challenges. They have designed, architected, built, and deployed hundreds of end-to-end AI solutions ranging from innovative proofs-of-concept to fully managed production AI models. KUNGFU.AI’s team begins by listening to your challenges, learning your environment, and then builds and iterates on a solution that meets your needs.


Regardless of where you are in your journey, KUNGFU.AI can help optimize your AI. Investing in your organization’s AI operations means you are being intentional about maximizing the value of your AI assets and capabilities and minimizing the costs of ownership of AI operations.  It’s about being confident that you can tackle AI opportunities in a way that is repeatable, reliable, and aligned to the most important corporate objectives.  It’s about taking advantage of efficiencies in your AI operations to direct resources toward greater innovation and more sustainable advantage. Whether you are just setting out to implement your data strategy or are well down the road of deploying production AI models, KUNGFU.AI’s team works with you to ensure that your investment in an AI future and capabilities will yield the greatest possible return.

Best use cases

‍Mobile Tech RX came to KUNGFU.AI with some lofty goals.  They wanted to build an automated pricing tool so customers could get a quote to repair their car's bodywork in seconds. The MTRX team had undertaken a large internal labeling effort, manually labeling over three thousand images of dents in vehicles, across all shapes, sizes, models, colors and make. They then annotated and denoted the pictures with the labels “dent”, “hail”, “paint”, or “conventional” (beyond repair). ‍As the KUNGFU.AI team dove in, they ended up discovering MTRX’s problem. Although it was well-intentioned, MTRX’s labeling system was not ideal. MTRX shared with KUNGFU.AI their initial attempt at the problem set, which was an out-of-the-box object detection model. This model underperformed and did not give them the ability to price individual dents reliably.

KUNGFU.AI researched this problem set, and identified a better model that had the capability to produce better object detection results, and to produce a per-dent pricing output. This new, better model choice offered higher accuracy, better configurability and tuning, and enabled MTRX to add additional classification or regression outputs per dent when MTRX decided to increase their model’s capability.  Additionally, during the project, to avoid an expensive and redundant labeling effort, the KUNGFU.AI team leveraged classic data science approaches to make use of the existing deficient data set to achieve a useful model. The team at KUNGFU.AI takes pride on leaving its clients with a working solution, and the knowledge to operate, and even extend the solution; during its engagement KUNGFU.AI has weekly sessions with the MTRX technical team to teach them Machine Learning and Deep Learning fundamentals, and help them understand every component of its delivered solution.

Meet the leader behind the success of KUNGFU.AI

Stephen Straus, Co-Founder and Managing Director of KUNGFU.AI is a serial entrepreneur and former venture capitalist who has started, ran, and successfully sold two companies. He was also a Kauffman Fellow and General Partner at Austin Ventures, at the time the largest venture capital between the two coasts, during the dot-com boom and bust. He is a graduate of Colgate University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He is founding Chair of Impact Dyslexia, a non-profit for families focused on creating bold solutions to the dyslexia crisis, serves on the Engineering Advisory Board of the Cockrell College of Engineering at the University of Texas and is a former member of the Board of Directors of Sustainable Food Center and Austin Film Society. He is also currently spearheading The Startup Diversity and Inclusion Pledge and is a partner and mentor at Capital Factory. Stephen lives in Austin with his terrific wife and they have four great kids.

“From sparking big ideas to delivering practical solutions, we help you unlock the business value of AI.”