When Vishakha Gupta and her co-founder Luis Remis were working together at Intel Labs in 2016, they were charged with figuring out how to manage growing amounts of visual data (images and video). As the two founders dug into the problem, working with academics and data scientists, they began an effort to build the proper infrastructure to deal with this growing amount of speciality data.
They eventually concluded that they needed a new database, one built to handle images and the specific requirements of data scientists working with them. They saw that data scientists were being forced to deal with multiple systems to process image data, and it was inefficient and time-consuming. They thought there had to be a better way, and five years ago while still working at Intel, the two started work on a system to build a database that could handle all of the work in a single system.
They believed their initial work had the makings of a startup and they left Intel in 2018 and began working in earnest on a company, ApertureData, which they launched officially at the end of the following year, and continued working on the problem.
The solution they eventually developed is called ApertureDB, a cloud agnostic database designed specifically to deal with all of the data related to working with images in one place, including the metadata, all done automatically, removing the time-consuming step of manual inspection.
“If I’m a data scientist who’s supposed to be looking at the data and understanding what’s going on, I have to spend [so much] of my time just wrangling it because [until now] there wasn’t one database that understands this type of data and these types of users,” Gupta explained.
She added, “So that’s kind of what prompted us to solve this problem. Because my co-founder and I faced this problem when we were at Intel. And we felt that if we were going to solve this for ourselves, while we are setting up this infrastructure, let’s understand how to solve it for a broader audience. And that’s what led us to form ApertureData and offer ApertureDB as a product,” she said.
The company has eight people now, with a goal of reaching 15-20 employees by year’s end. As a female founder, she certainly recognizes the importance of building a diverse workforce, and as a mother of two, the importance of finding a work-life balance.
“You know there is this classic Silicon Valley notion that you have to kill yourself to work on a startup. [We believe] you can actually balance things out and have more diversity, and it’s important to be diverse, even at the beginning,” she said.
Today, the company announced a $3 million seed investment to help continue building the product. The round was led by Root Ventures, with participation from Work-Bench, 2048 VC, Graph Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group and Magic Fund, along with a list of industry angels.
The round closed last October, and they were able to work on the product prior to that with the help of a National Science Foundation grant, some friends and family money and good old-fashioned boot strapping.