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The Wise Assistant founders consist of CEO Michael Diego (center), CTO Ryan Brandt (left) and CPO Kevin Hawkins (right). (Courtesy/ Michael Diego)

Michael Diego, a 2016 University of Georgia graduate, is the founder and CEO of an artificial-intelligence startup called Wise Assistant. Diego co-founded Wise Assistant, formerly WitWay Inc, in August 2019 and developed the platform to improve social wellness by helping people feel better and focus more.

Diego said Wise Assistant has three steps: discover, plan and do. Users can discover good ideas and experiences, create a plan around the experience and then live the experience by doing it with the help of dossiers and reminders. Wise Assistant is all about intentions, he said.

“You set intentions. They could be, I want to stay connected … focusing less on work versus focusing more on self-care,” Diego said. “What Wise does is it just starts serving you ideas: based on these intentions, this is the best idea for you.”

Users can choose “yes” or “no,” similar to the social app Bumble. When users choose an idea they like, they hit “create a plan” and Wise Assistant prepares all the best parameters that it can.

Diego directly connects his desire to use media and technology for social good to his experiences at Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at UGA. However, he said the idea for his company didn’t form until four months into his yearlong deployment overseas for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2018.

Diego said he was living the dream in Sydney, Australia, watching the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display, but he still felt empty.

“In my heart, I’m just like, this isn’t what I want to do,” Diego said. “These projects I’m working on are cool, I love all these people that I’m working with, but I’m not moving the world forward in a way that I feel like it should be moving forward.”

This pushed Diego to start a company. He met Ryan Brandt, co-founder and CTO of Wise Assistant, at a hackathon in Boston. Shortly after, they met Kevin Hawkins, co-founder and CPO, through a mutual connection. Diego said they all had a shared feeling of not having enough time to track all their experiences and wanting someone to do it for them. Now they have a total of nine people on their team.

On the Wise Assistant website, some suggestions to improve wellness the virtual assistant can provide are learning a new language with a friend, organizing a monthly bike trip, getting personalized recommendations for new shows and sliding into the DMs of your favorite celebrity.

Brandt said Wise Assistant’s focus is on connection.

“I think connection is something that all of us feel we wish we had more of, especially during the pandemic,” Brandt said. “Self connection and the things that precipitate it are really the things we’re trying to go toward.”

COVID-19 validated the direction they had for the company, Diego said. Wise Assistant went from acting as just a calendar to an assistant that purposefully manages that calendar for the user.

Wise Assistant is not available on the App Store, which is an intentional move. The goal is to get people off the platform, Diego said, so it works similarly to a plugin that acts in the background.

To Diego, the perfect experience for their users is that they forget about their phone.

“Whether you’re spending more time with your friends, laughing more, cooking, baking a cake rather than watching baking videos — that’s what we want people to get out of it, to live those experiences,” Diego said. “Forget the phones, forget the plans and let us handle that.”