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The CEO Magazine
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Drive Visual Data Analytics: Delivering Mixed Reality solutions leveraging AI and Video Analytics

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Drive Visual Data Analytics: Delivering Mixed Reality solutions leveraging AI and Video Analytics

“Drive Visual aims to empower the Indian ecosystem through unique Computer Vision + AI solutions”, – Pradeep Janakiraman.

Drive Analytics is a renowned Computer Vision + AI solutions company. It excels in mining visual data embedded in videos and images and solving real-world problems for multiple domains. The company was established in 2015 by Pradeep Janakiraman with the core objective of tapping into the visual big data space that is far bigger than the mainstream text analytics, to derive actionable insights out of videos and images.

Drive Analytics has always run in a lean startup model. It operates in highly informal and lab-like settings with small focussed teams of < 15 young, talented professionals. All team members have an excellent pedigree and deep analytical and technical skills, and all of which are helpful in designing and delivering cutting edge solutions.

Most of the employees at our company are very young, with a very good pedigree from top universities. As per Internshala, India’s leading portal for startup internships, we are rated among the Top10 places to intern. We further put them through a detailed training process and provide them with a challenging environment to blossom,”  Pradeep elaborates.

The Indian AI and Mixed reality market offer tremendous scope for technology-assisted solutions. In recent years, many interesting startups have emerged in this space. According to an estimate in a study by tech giant Accenture, AI has the potential to add $957 billion, or 15% of current gross value added, to India’s economy by 2035. Over the last few years, India has flourished greatly in AI. India ranked third among G20 countries in 2016, measured by the number of AI-focused startups, which have increased since 2011 at a compound annual growth rate of 86%, higher than the global average.  With leading phone manufacturers adding additional cameras and hinting at 3D capabilities, the Mixed Reality industry is poised to take off in a major way in the near future.

The Man behind Drive’s Innovative Solutions- Pradeep Janakiraman

Pradeep Janakiraman is the Founder and CEO of Drive Analytics. He is a seasoned technocrat with over 25 years of expertise in the IT sector spanning research, product development, and solution delivery. Moreover, he served in senior roles at reputed and successful startups.

Pradeep started his career at the prestigious IBM Watson research labs in NY, USA and followed it by stints at leading product MNCs such as Sun Microsystems and Verisign. Pradeep did his graduation from BITS Pilani, followed by a Masters in Computer Science from Syracuse University in the U.S. Later he was sponsored by IBM Watson to pursue Ph.D. coursework part-time from Columbia University.  Pradeep also went through an executive management program at IIM Kolkata later.

Recently, Pradeep Janakiraman was on the hot seat of The CEO Magazine, where he discussed his company, offerings, future plans and more.

Here are edited excerpts.

Shed some light on your service portfolio.

We process Visual Data and deliver solutions to different industry verticals like Health and Fitness, Sporting domain and more. And, here is a list of our major solutions:

  • Health and Fitness
  • Online Fashion Retail
  • Face Recognition
  • Sports Coaching
  • Unsafe Content Filtering

Earlier, we built solutions via a Joint Venture to derive Brand Exposure and Sponsorship ROI metrics for leading Sporting League events such as IPL, IPTL, PKL, AFL, etc. We leveraged Computer Vision and AI to analyze visibility metrics for sponsoring brands in sports broadcast videos. Of late, we have been building a product in the Merged Reality space, leveraging IoT, 3D Computer Vision. It can power applications in the Health and Fitness Domains in addition to Online Fashion Retail and Sports Coaching.

What were the key challenges you faced at the initial phase of the organization, and how did you address them?

Initially, our major challenge was access to the B2B market. In fact, we still face issues with that. In India, it is very difficult to sell technology solutions, as the people’s perception of domestically originated IP is very low. The complexities involved in harnessing several nascent technologies and blending them into a solution is not so well understood.  It is also very tough to get paid on time from Indian companies. Long sales cycles and pricing pressures are constant hurdles in having things moving smoothly.

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In order to get rid of these problems, we moved towards partnerships model, where we typically partner with larger companies with a broader global clientele, and they, in turn, act as our GoTo Market partner and pitch our solutions to their clients.

What is your target audience in India?

Presently, our target audience in India is Fitness & Healthcare providers, and Sports Coaching academies. We are also reaching out to Online Apparel retail clients.

What are the key factors of your business growth in the technical sphere?

  • It is our razor-sharp focus on choosing the right problem to solve.
  • We go very deep and pick out unaddressed areas and carve a niche by building solutions in those areas.
  • We then partner with the best companies to take our solutions into the market.

Define Artificial Intelligence in one line.

AI is the most natural and unsupervised way of learning to resolve difficulties, very similar to how brains work but being applied at a massive scale using neural networks and huge computation power

Why has AI suddenly developed in the past couple of years? And, what exactly do people mean when they talk about AI in 2019?

Though neural networks were around for many decades, recently there were some path-breaking developments in terms of deep neural networks with more layers, combined with the ability to converge the outputs into solutions instead of making them computationally infeasible.

 Around the same time, there were also some enabling events on the evolution of GPUs and them being available on the cloud for the 1st time, making them accessible and putting AI based solutions within reach for the wider community. When algorithms and compute power combine, it naturally evolves as a recipe for numerous solutions.

As of 2019, the scientific community is focussed on evolving newer and more complex networks to create templates to address many problems. The others are consuming such networks and adapting them to their own business problems using their own data etc.

What are your strategies to stay competitive in the future market of AI?

We are now moving into the IoT space and 3D based Computer Vision, both of which are expected to take off significantly in the coming years.

What milestones and achievements are you most proud of today?         

From inception, we have won some prestigious awards; some of them are given below:

  • 2016- Top 10 Startups – Wharton India Business Competition
  • 2017- Top 10 Startups – LetsIgnite (India’s Largest VC and Angel conference)
  • 2018- Top 20 DeepTech Club – Initiative by NASSCOM for a special technology accelerator club for startups in the AI space
  • 2018-Top 50 GameChanger solutions awards – NASSCOM product conclave
  • 2018- 10 Best Startup Internships in India by Internshala
  • 2019- Listed among the Top 10 startups from India in the AI/DeepTech space by a reputed international business magazine

Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business in AI, what would it be?

Working in the Deep Tech space may sound cool, but is no piece of cake. If we peel the layers and look beyond the hype curve, there are always misplaced expectations on what can be realistically achieved.  By virtue of having had an early start, and having had the opportunity of working on several different solutions for some really high profile clientele, and having won several awards across various categories, Drive Analytics has evolved into a very mature start-up over the years.  However, it still retains the spirit of start-up culture with young and bright talent that is full of energy to challenge the status-quo and constantly attempting newer problems to solve.

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