A great writer once said “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Belonging to the world where about 90% of the startups succumb in their initial stages, a group of alumni raised the bars by being in that 10%. From the stage of struggling to install a vision library in Ubuntu ,to developing a deep learning algorithm it was not a rose walk. The five pandavas Kedar Kulkarni, Vignesh Krishnakumar, Kishore Natarajan, Saivenkatesh Ashok and Praveen Kumar had to fight their kurukshetra. Passionate and driven to unravel the uncovered, they started Hyperverge, a company that develops deep-learning algorithm to analyze and organize consumer images on the cloud. Starting with a seed funding of $15,000, the group has now raised a million dollars.
“The key thing to do for people who want to set out on this journey would be to find a set of like-minded individuals who would work together on an idea for a long enough period of time. Our seed funding happened mainly because of our team and partly because of our technology.” recalls Vignesh Krishnakumar, CTO, HyperVerge.
The company has developed patent-pending technology for organization of images by identification of people, places, scenes and events in images. e basis of the technology lies in the field of machine learning. Imagine how cool would it be if there was an app which could identify your friends and tag them automatically. Silver, their first smartphone application, aims to solve this everyday problem of photo organization.
Well the idea sounds fascinating but where did they get the money from?
The first round of funding (approximately $15,000) was given by IIT-Madras Incubation Cell and Lema Labs (Kedar’s first company). IIT Madras professors and the ecosystem have mentored and encouraged them through many international competitions, consulting assignments, and so on.
Is that it ? Did they stop there?
Obviously a big NO, the team was much more ambitious and had their ideas clear. They worked for four months on prototyping the technology. Their initial idea about the next round of funding was to raise about $50,000, through a Kickstarter campaign( a crowdfunding platform) in US. But life being life changed their fate. Something more was awaiting for them. After the mentoring sessions with alumni, entrepreneurs in U.S. and visits to universities such as MIT, CMU, Stanford, etc., the team decided to raise money through venture capital firms in U.S. This was strategically very important as the space was emerging and large companies such as Google, Facebook, etc. had already started mobilizing resources and hiring the best researchers in this field.
Did they make it?
Yes, eventually more than seven VCs wanted to invest in HyperVerge. The team chose NEA (NEA is the largest VC fund in the world with an amazing tech portfolio), Milliways Ventures (because of their deep understanding of technology and consumer space) and Naya Ventures (because of their experience in mobile, cloud and big-data space). The team also invited Srikanth Sundararajan (Venture Partner at Helion) to invest.
“The key thing to do for people who want to set out on this journey would be to find a set of like-minded individuals who would work together on an idea for a long enough period of time. Our seed funding happened mainly because of our team and partly because of our technology.” recalls Vignesh Krishnakumar, CTO, HyperVerge. If you think you can blandish the investors, the stage is all yours, but at the same time one needs to be resilient. If life throws lemons at you add a dash of vodka and make it a potent cocktail. So don’t hang back, just start-up. Who knows your idea may be worth MILLIONS!