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CEO Corner: Kemtai’s Dr. Naomi Keren is Motivated by Tough Problems

CEO Corner: Kemtai’s Dr. Naomi Keren is Motivated by Tough Problems

Dr. Naomi Keren is determined to prove that AI can be used for good with Kemtai.

Home workout platform Kemtai uses computer vision technology and AI to provide users with real-time feedback and corrective guidance during workouts. Athletech News caught up with Kemtai’s co-founder and CPO, Dr. Naomi Keren, for our CEO/Founder Corner series to learn more about the product and one of the brains (another being Mike Telem‘s) behind the innovative company.

Kemtai took off in 2021. In the latter part of the year, the company was featured on Cheddar, Laptop, and recently Well + Good’s highly-anticipated 2022 Wellness Trends list. Described by as “having a coach with you at all times,” the virtual fitness company’s use of AI and computer vision technology is helping fitness users tackle their health and wellness resolutions well before 2022.  

Before Tempo Studio or Peloton Guide even came into existence, Kemtai released their motion tracking platform, with its technology remaining as the most accurate to date. It doesn’t require users to purchase equipment, since the system works on any laptop or desktop with a camera.

Kemtai co-founder & CPO Dr. Naomi Keren

Prior to becoming Kemtai’s co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Dr. Naomi Keren was CEO of iCarbon X and Vice President of R&D at Imagu Vision Technologies, among other impressive positions in the fields of technology and healthcare. For Athletech News’s CEO/Founder Corner, Dr. Keren gives the scoop on how her journey to Kemtai started, her greatest accomplishment, motivations, and much more. 

Athletech News (ATN): Please tell us about your current company and how either your role or the company (if you are a founder) came to fruition.

Dr. Naomi Keren: I am the co-founder and chief product officer of Kemtai, a digital exercise company focused on providing the most effective home exercise experience. Prior to establishing Kemtai, I was Vice President of R&D at Imagu Vision Technologies. I also served as the CEO of iCarbonX and headed up product development at Yowza.

I began my career as a programmer at Amdocs and later joined Compugen where I was a programmer and then team leader. I hold a PhD in computational neuroscience from the Bar-Ilan University in Israel and am regarded as an expert in computer vision, healthcare, biotechnology, and software development. 

ATN: What was your journey like to get to this point?

Dr. Naomi Keren: At Compugen, destiny also led me down a fitness path. My direct manager at Compugen was only 30 years old and already suffering from back pain. Coincidentally, I was hooked on Pilates at the time and had just finished my Pilates instructor course. To help her and others at the company, I volunteered to offer Pilates sessions for my colleagues at work 2–3 times a week. Surprisingly enough, Compugen’s CEO loved the idea, literally breaking a few walls in the office to create a studio (a very big deal at the time) and I quickly had dozens of participants in my bi-weekly, 7am classes, including the CEO.

That CEO was Mor Amitai, who later became my business partner in several startups.

During my time at Compugen I finished my second degree, an MSc in Computational Neuroscience. After my first daughter was born I left Compugen and began my PhD studies in Computational Neurophysiology. During maternity leave, Mor told me he was founding a new company that would link human vision and computer vision. He invited me to join his company — Imagu. I accepted as the job enabled me to combine my interest in understanding the human body and brain with my expertise in software development and computational sciences. It also required some serious juggling between my PhD, young motherhood, and a full-time job with a start-up. I LOVED it!

Imagu was later acquired by a Chinese company. I worked there for several years. Fast-forward to September 2019. This is when I co-founded a startup called Kemtai, with my mentor and partner Mor and my very good friend Mike Telem, also a high tech veteran. We were talking one day and realized that with all of the online exercise options, none of them provided any real-time feedback or guidance. So we decided to create a series of workouts that were fun, effective and that leveraged our expertise in computer vision to enable analyzing a person’s workout to provide real-time training feedback and scoring.

ATN: What is your greatest strength?

Dr. Naomi Keren: That would be combining my love of technology with my love of people. I really enjoy working within a team—as a colleague or as a manager—and tackling challenges together.

ATN: What motivates you?

Dr. Naomi Keren: I’m motivated by tough problems. Both in life and more so at work, tough challenges that may take a long journey to solve are what typically motivates me.

ATN: What are some of your daily habits?

Dr. Naomi Keren: Being a mother obviously creates some daily habits around helping my two girls—both teenagers at the moment. I practice Pilates 3–5 times a week and take long walks whenever I can. I find this helps me clear my mind.

ATN: What is your greatest accomplishment?

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Dr. Naomi Keren: I think that completing my PhD while being a young mother and working at a startup was certainly one of my biggest achievements, although I’m not sure I would recommend the combination! I think that Kemtai, my current startup, could become an even bigger accomplishment, but only time (and effort) will tell.

ATN: Where do you accomplish your best work?

Dr. Naomi Keren: That depends. With my own tasks, I do the best when I’m at home. But the collaboration at the office (we work hybrid, 2–3 times a week in the office) can really help when I’m stuck or with managing the bigger projects.

ATN: What was your first job?

Dr. Naomi Keren: My first job was as a programmer at Amdocs, a relatively large tech company in Israel. While I really learned a lot there, I also learned that big companies are not for me.

ATN: Where did you get the idea for your current business? 

Dr. Naomi Keren: I’ve been practicing various types of fitness for many years. I’ve also been involved in computer vision for many years. As the tech in computer vision matured, the concept of creating a camera-based digital personal trainer was almost self-evident.

ATN: When did you know you had something of substantial value?

Dr. Naomi Keren: The feedback from both users and potential partners, especially those that have been in the wellness industry for a very long time, was the initial proof of value. For some of them, it seemed as if we finally created something they had been waiting for for a very long time.

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