What's Your StORy?

Ahmet Kuyumcu

Ahmet Kuyumcu

July 2017 What's Your StORy?
Co-Founder and CEO, Prorize LLC

More questions for Ahmet Kuyumcu?
Check out the Open Forum on INFORMS Connect!


What prompted you to enter this field? Why?
Since my youth, I have never been satisfied with the status quo. I’ve always wanted to do things better. I appreciate and crave variety. I tend to seek analytical solutions to problems. It was love at first sight when I took an introductory class in operations research (O.R.) as an undergraduate at Istanbul Technical University in Turkey.


How did you become an expert in price optimization?
Better pricing creates a better economy, which in turn creates a better society and ultimately a better world. Pricing is a fascinating field and cuts across many disciplines. It is still in its infancy and has many unsolved challenges.

I’ve spent my entire professional career in pricing. I led the design of first-of-their-kind pricing systems for most innovative corporations in a wide range of industries. I’ve also closely followed academic research, delivered many talks in conferences and universities, and taught graduate-level classes in price optimization. These experiences significantly improved my skills; but I know there is much more to learn.


How have you seen the O.R. field change since you first entered it?
The O.R. field is growing in line with the growth of data and technology. Data has grown in variety, volume, velocity, and veracity. Technology has advanced with more computing power and better software. The O.R. field is at the intersection of data and technology, providing value and meaning to data, and is positioned to transform the world in ways we’ve never imagined.


Tell us about your experience in the Edelman competition. How has winning the Edelman Award affected your career?
I have dreamed of winning the Edelman Award for many years, but never had the opportunity to compete for it. When I finally decided to submit an abstract, I learned it was only three hours before the deadline!

Being named a finalist was a great honor, and winning the award from among an outstanding group of finalists was inexplicably humbling and gratifying. My Edelman experience taught me a couple of key lessons: First, give yourself a tight deadline for any task; e.g., three hours! Second, O.R. entrepreneurs should not be discouraged if their start-up company is small. We started the Holiday Retirement project that won the Edelman award as a two-man shop. In fact, smaller firms are more agile, flexible, and customer-centric. These qualities are most valuable to large corporations when it comes to a transformational project like pricing.

The Edelman Award created a substantial pipeline and interest for Prorize products and services. Many firms want to know how we set prices optimally, not only for senior living and self-storage firms, but other industries, as well. This is an exciting time for the Prorize team.


What member benefit do you find most useful/helpful?
It is hard to single out just one, but the opportunity to interact with other analytics professionals is very beneficial, particularly during INFORMS conferences.


What is something you learned in the last month?
If learning is polynomial, unlearning is NP-hard! My six-year-old daughter loves to play with Excel, and I once showed her its last row. She thought the last row in Excel represented infinity. She told all her friends and teachers that she has seen infinity! It took me exponentially longer to change her mind.


How has being part of the INFORMS Revenue Management and Pricing Section affected your professional life?
I participated in some section conferences and enjoyed them very much. Connecting with like-minded pricing analytics professionals is always valuable.


If you had to work on only one project for the next year, what would it be?
I would love to work on a NASA project and get deeply involved in exploring the possibility of life elsewhere in our universe.


What interest do you have outside of work that might surprise us?
I am interested in addressing some of the massive problems our planet faces. For example, how can we improve humanity, society in general, our educational systems, global environment, and animal conservation? How can we eliminate poverty altogether? I think these and similar problems will continue to challenge many future generations.


If you were a Microsoft Office program, which one would you be?
Definitely Excel, which is perhaps the most revolutionary software program ever. Original Excel inventors and designers should be awarded a Nobel Prize!


How do you relax?
I enjoy spending time with my wonderful wife and three amazing children. I am also an avid reader and enjoy traveling.