TechCrunch just broke the story of Chennai, India-based Innovation Labs, maker of autism app Avaz, getting funded by Mumbai Angels and Inventus Capital. The company, led by Ajit Narayanan, has been in the 1M/1M program for the last three years, and has pivoted from being a device and services company to an app venture. Ajit himself has many awards to his name, not the least of which is a Technology Review 35 under 35, as well as a TED talk explaining FreeSpeech, a visual communication language that is a core innovation from the company.
We are thrilled for many reasons.
By Ajit Narayanan, Founder and CEO, Invention Labs
I started working with children with autism way back in 2008, building technology that helps them learn language and communication. In retrospect, it was almost serendipity – what started as mainly a favour for some friends has now turned into a full-fledged start-up. And today, I’m thrilled to share that TechCrunch broke the story of our company, Avaz (www.avazapp.com), raising our first round of financing, and I wanted to spend a moment reflecting on how my advisors in general, and 1M/1M in particular, have helped me get here.
Sramana: When did you start Car Part Kings?
Michael Dash: We started it in late 2011. We incorporated and had the idea. We approached some different people about products that we were interested in. We launched in September of 2011.
Sramana: What were you going to sell?
Michael Dash: We talked to a number of different people and concluded that we wanted to get into a space that was not as easy as fashion or electronics so we chose auto parts. That is one of the most difficult items to sell online and has a huge barrier to entry for a number of different reasons. >>>
This discussion is about how Attensity is using unstructured data analysis to prevent churn in customer bases of Telecom, Consumer Electronics, and other verticals.
Sramana Mitra: Howard, let’s start with introducing our audience to Attensity. Tell us what the company does. Also give us some of your background.
Howard Lau: Thank you for this opportunity. Attensity is a Big Data company. The value that we bring is we ingest a tremendous amount of data. With the advent of social networking, a lot of the volume of this data that we ingest is obviously social data. It includes Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. As you know, Twitter has exploded onto the scene. At this point, it generates about 500 million tweets per day. We ingest that information into our system and then we analyze that information so that we can do query analysis based on topics defined by our customers. >>>
We love student entrepreneurs who have managed to not only build successful businesses but have done so without dropping out of school. We also love entrepreneurs who have the discipline to get to a strong and sustainable monetization model early on in their evolution. Andrew Grauer scores on all fronts, and there is much to learn from this entrepreneur’s journey.
Sramana Mitra: Andrew, let’s start with your personal beginning. Tell us where you were born, raised, and in what circumstances. What’s the back story of Course Hero?
Andrew Grauer: I’m from the Bay Area of California. I grew up there my whole life. I went to college at Ithaca, New York at Cornell University. After being at Cornell, I came back. Course Hero moved back and continued here in the Bay Area.
The growth in social networking solutions is also infiltrating the CRM industry. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, organizations are spending more money on improving their engagement initiatives with consumers. The research firm projects that social CRM market will grow 36.5% annually from $1.91 billion in 2013 to be worth $9.08 billion in 2018.
We’re seeing the trend everywhere – companies building significant revenue and market reach with very few employees. Car Part Kings is approaching $10 million in revenue with 14 employees. Of course, WhatsApp’s $19 billion valuation with 32 employees is an extreme example of this trend.
Sramana: Michael, let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where are you from? What kind of circumstances were you raised in?
Michael Dash: I was born in New York. I was raised in New York for half of my life before moving to the suburbs in Long Island. I went to high school in Long Island and then went to College at Tulane in New Orleans. I finished college in 2004 and then I got into real estate. I did real estate for 5 years and worked in financing, construction, project management, and all the phases of real estate you can imagine. >>>
Sramana Mitra: I’ll switch gears a bit. Given all these things that you’re seeing in the market, can you look ahead to the 5 to 10 year horizon. Tell me your thoughts about what’s going to happen. What do you anticipate as new that is going to happen?
Emil Sayegh: We are all heading toward a world where data is being collected every micro second, where wearable devices are going to be common and where data is collected even in our house. Vital data collected from us can be predictive. We’re heading toward a world where massive amount of data is going to be collected. We think we’re collecting a lot of data now. With avant-garde customers that I’m talking to, that data is going to take shape in the form of numbers, videos, and pictures. To accommodate this huge flood of exponential growth in data, we’re going to have to find ways to store and retrieve data very quickly and very efficiently. That’s going to be the next frontier for a lot of us. That’s going to impact storage – the cost and performance of storage. >>>
Sramana Mitra: Interesting. What are your thoughts about liberal arts colleges? I went to a liberal arts college as well. I went to Smith College. About five years ago, Smith started this big investment on a new engineering building. It was very plush. They invited me to speak at the opening. It was clear that the college was going through a lot of soul-searching like most other liberal arts colleges. What is the future of liberal arts education?
Karen Francis: I have a grand vision for what a liberal arts college experience could be. I say those words very precisely. Just because technology is enabling things to open up, doesn’t mean that the college campus can’t do that. I actually think that the real opportunity here is to look at places like Smith and Dartmouth and say, “You go there, but you’re not bound by the boundaries of the geography or the professors who choose to teach there for what you’re going to learn and experience.” >>>
Recently published PC shipment reports by both Gartner and IDC suggests that the decline in the market may have finally stabilized. Worldwide PC shipments during the quarter fell 1.7% to 76.6 million compared with the 6.9% decline registered a quarter ago. Despite the stabilization, PC chip manufacturer Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) realizes the need to diversify operations. >>>