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Thought Leaders in Artificial Intelligence: QuillBot CEO Rohan Gupta (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Nov 24th 2021

Sramana Mitra: Interesting. What is the trajectory of your company? How did you get started? Where does the AI expertise come from?

Rohan Gupta: It’s a stereotypical startup story. My co-founders and I were in school. My co-founder, the CTO, is a college dropout. My third co-founder was one year out of school and he quit his full-time job. We started with a Google Translate interface. It just took off. We started seeing a ton of organic traffic. It motivated us to pursue it full-time.

At that point, we all had backgrounds in machine learning. That’s when we started rolling up our sleeves and digging into the actual research side of it. We were able to innovate on a lot of areas. AI today versus what it was three to four years ago is like night and day. It’s getting to a point where it can paraphrase at a human-level proficiency. It’s far above a high school student’s ability to write at this point. There are a lot of trends that made this possible.

One of the core trends that we attribute to this is the democratization of AI. Big companies like Google and Facebook have been generous and have open-sourced a lot of their AI research and tools. That allowed us to stand on the shoulders of giants. As we conduct novel AI research with less than $50,000 in funding, it led us to innovate.

Sramana Mitra: What have you used from Google and Facebook’s AI platform?

Rohan Gupta: The open source AI community nowadays is very robust. Pretty much every one uses a core package from Google or Facebook like TensorFlow. They also publish paradigm-shifting research papers every couple of years. That has changed the foundation of AI – or natural language processing at least. We have seen AI models being far more cognitive. In addition to that, we use Google Cloud as our cloud provider. That has enabled us to use next-generation hardware at scale at a fraction of the cost of purchasing the hardware.

Sramana Mitra: Are you a venture-funded company?

Rohan Gupta: We were a venture-funded company. We actually exited a couple of months ago.

Sramana Mitra: To?

Rohan Gupta: CourseHero.

Sramana Mitra: I know the executive team of CourseHero very well. I was just talking to them on Tuesday. Very cool. What are you doing with CourseHero?

Rohan Gupta: Our roadmap and trajectory had stayed the same, but now, we have guidance from a world-class team. We think that it will accelerate our roadmap.

Sramana Mitra: How much money did you raise before the acquisition?

Rohan Gupta: We raised $4.25 million. We had a very competitive Series A round at the time of our acquisition.

Sramana Mitra: Have you disclosed the acquisition price?

Rohan Gupta: It’s undisclosed.

Sramana Mitra: Now that you have been in the industry for a while. What do you see as open problems that you would encourage new entrepreneurs to solve with AI?

Rohan Gupta: There are so many. It’s a very exciting time to be in the space. The capabilities of the technology have shifted. It’s a wide, open space. In particular, medicine is interesting for not just diagnostics or research but also for reducing the friction of care and improving the productivity of doctors. Transcription has improved a lot with the ability to take notes in an automatic fashion. There are many other areas.

Sramana Mitra: Congratulations. I enjoyed listening to you. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in Artificial Intelligence: QuillBot CEO Rohan Gupta
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