Wouldn’t it be cool to have an automated system that could do whatever you command, and make your life so much simpler? Something that could maybe compile a project report on some boring topic for your course work in less than ten minutes, which would have taken you an hour to complete otherwise. Sounds far fetched, doesn’t it? Apparently not. Chiragh Dewan and Himanshu Vaishnav, co founders of Airocorp- a company based on Artificial Intelligence and winners of Startup Weekend Hyderabad, have been working on making this a reality in the near future. They were here at Kurukshetra for a guest lecture which focussed on startups and entrepreneurship.
The Guindy Times caught up with them post their talk. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
What is your startup about?
Our motto says it all, “Automating Human Lives”. We have always believed that technology should be used in such a way that it makes the lives of people easier. Our start up is called Airocorp and our work basically deals with the use of Artificial Intelligence in a combination with hardware and software to make the common things we do in our daily lives easier and takes lesser time in decision making. Even if it reduces our time spent on doing a particular task by five minutes, I think it is a big deal.
One of your product is very interestingly named JARVIS. What is the story behind that?
Initially,we started it off as Just Another Operating System,in 2013, and later named it JARVIS which is ‘Just A Rather Very Intelligent System’. We actually did not realise how our pet project turned out to be a start up. We were watching Iron Man 3 and we just asked ourselves, “Why shouldn’t we have our own Jarvis?”. We then started thinking about it seriously, and the idea slowly took its shape. So in a way, I guess you could say Tony Stark inspired us.
Funding and investments are the toughest part in any startup, and considering the fact that an idea like yours might seem far fetched to some, how difficult is it for a startup to get people to invest in them?
Having worked in a company before, I (Chiragh) know how investors think, because I have seen both sides of the coin. An investor doesn’t just invest in a company or its product or their idea,rather, they invest in the people. Infact,the more promising and determined your team is,higher is the probability of your company being successful and hence,they will invest in your company. Even if an investor feels that your project is far fetched, if you and your team are determined and confident enough to get positive results, they would invest in it. Sometimes,even if what you get at the end isn’t what you intended to initially, if your product is feasible in the current market, investors will continue to fund you. Another big aspect is how well you are known and recognised in the business circle even if you are just a start up. We were lucky to be featured in Forbes,in 2014, and that played a huge role in getting more investments.
Where do you see your company in the next couple of years?
We are currently trying to explore the hardware horizon as most of our previous work was on operating systems. FiOS (First Intelligent Operating System) is an Artificial Intelligence system that analyses the behaviours and habits of humans and automates them to make things easier for us. The beta version of this software will be released soon. Since not many people have access to computers or laptops, a software based approach may not be available to everybody so we are looking at other avenues too. Right now, we are working on Home Automation Systems, which is predominantly hardware based.
Startups are slowly gaining momentum these days, and the fact that a myriad of people are taking part in startup events, startup weekends , etc., is a proof for it. What is your take on this?
It is nice to see young innovators in India, but I feel that there should be more emphasis on entrepreneurship and, the idea to start your own business should be given more importance in schools and colleges. I was very impressed with the ambidextrous robot that one of your college’s student had displayed in Kurukshetra. I would really encourage these people to take up their robot or whatever their prototype product is,and make it their primary importance, rather than come up with ideas or robots or whatever, just to get better placements.
Many colleges and research institutes now have something called ‘Incubators’ where youngsters buzzing with creativity and innovation can come together and literally ‘incubate’ ideas for potential products/ start ups. What would your comments on these be?
We should definitely let young minds come together and discuss ideas, and these days people have a platform to expose themselves. Yet, I feel people in India are slightly conservative about sharing their details of ideas. I don’t mean to be offensive but if you think someone has better resources to implement your idea, then merge with them, broaden your scope maybe. I’m not asking you to completely reveal your ideas and plans to another person and give a chance for plagiarism, but I believe that the more you share,and the more you give to the community and you get better networks which would definitely help take your ideas ahead.
Lastly, what is your advice to young aspirants and budding startups?
One of the biggest factors for sustaining in the startup field is to be persistent and not feel deterred when you don’t get results, or enough funding or investors. And,another important thing you should do as an entrepreneur is to go with your instincts. Make a to-do list with short term and long term goals and start working on them immediately. If you keep on planning too much, either your idea will never be conceptualised or someone else will come up with it. Never keep postponing your ideas. If you think you will work for a couple of years, get a stable position and then start working on your business, there is a high chance that it may never happen. You might get used to your routine or get promoted or you might not want to escape that space. So all I’d like to say is be like Jim Carrey in ‘Yes Man’, say yes and don’t be afraid to explore before it’s too late.
The Guindy Times would like to thank Mr.Chiragh Dewan and Mr.Himanshu Vaishnav for their time and wish them success in all their future endeavours.