During the Seattle Startup Week the Female Founders Alliance produced a half a dozen panels that included several of our members – ‘The Art and Science of Pivoting’, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Navigating Your Startup’s Early Days’, and ‘Do I Really Need a Cofounder?’ to name a few. However, this year in particular, FFA spearheaded the new Future Founder’s track. Thanks to a trusty team (Wendy Yang, Nina White, Liat Arama, & Michelle Silver), five lucky would-be entrepreneurs were selected to pitch at the closing party. Together with Seattle’s top pitch coaches, these entrepreneurs had a chance to develop their idea, flesh out their story, practice their pitch, and get on a real stage. Out of all the pitches, the judges (Anita Loomba, FFA Program Manager, Yuval Neeman, Partner at Trilogy Equity Partners, and Valentina Vitols, Angel Investor, Founder & FFA Champion), chose a winner – Vishakha Gupta-Cledat, from ApertureData. Read about her experience and her tips and tricks in our interview below.
What is your startup idea? What’s the name of the company?
Our company will be called ApertureData. We are forming this company to accelerate and simplify machine learning based applications that extract meaning from visual data such as images, videos, and associated high dimensional data. We will do so by providing the necessary abstractions and interfaces to store and access this visual data in the most efficient way.
What industry will your idea serve?
Since we provide a data solution with a focus on machine learning based applications that operate on visual data, we have various candidate domains such as medical imaging, autonomous driving, entertainment, sports, retail analytics, and manufacturing. While our solution can serve these different application verticals, we plan to start with the one that will best highlight the tremendous functionality enabled by our product and gradually expand to the other domains as we grow. This first consumer domain will depend on the insights gathered from our customer discovery phase.
Have you made an progress to making this idea happen?
Our software is available as open source and under active development and evaluation. We also have current users: academic users from three different universities, three product teams within Intel across various application domains, and a medical AI company. Our work has appeared in a premier storage workshop for hot new ideas and publications on the components we have developed for our solution are under preparation or under submission at top tier peer-reviewed conferences.
Why do you want to present at Seattle Startup Week?
Seattle Startup Week attracts a large group of entrepreneurs, investors, and people from different stages of the entrepreneurial adventure. It is as much a learning week as it is an advertisement week. I wanted to present there to get started on this journey, gain constructive feedback and to grow my network.
How was your overall experience pitching at Seattle Startup Week?
I am very grateful to Wendy Yang and the other pitch coaches as well as the five other future founders. We learnt a lot during the pitch coaching session since it is so hard to figure out how to sell your idea in 2 minutes but that is really the most important way to catch someone’s attention. Everyone provided great feedback to each other and helped overcome some of the anxiety. It was great to meet Leslie and learn the tricks of pitching for the first time. The audience followed the enthusiastic tone of the event and it really made it easier to breathe and just talk. I have noted down the questions asked by the judges since they made it a point to help me answer or start thinking deeply about the core questions necessary to answer for the startup.
What are your tips or words of encouragement for future founders to pitch?
I suggest getting pitch coaching if possible. It helps identify the nuggets from the vast amount of information that we are always eager to share. It is also nice to find a friendly group that makes this difficult task seem fairly doable. In the end, I think having an idea you really believe in helps you get the rest of the way.