Suman Kanuganti, MBA

FlexWeekend, 2014
Co-Founder and CEO, Aira

Suman Kanuganti (MBA ‘14) is dedicated to assisting those who are blind and visually impaired.

Kanuganti's vision came into fruition during his time at the Rady School of Management. Inspired by a close friend, Matt Brock, who lost his vision, Kanuganti worked with his colleague, Yuja Chang, to develop Aira — an operating system that enables blind individuals to connect with a network of certified agents via smart glasses such as Google Glass, allowing the agents to see what the blind person sees in real time.

"Lab to Market was huge for me – it gave me a good thought process of all the steps it takes to get a business off the ground."

"We brainstormed the idea with Matt Brock and he mentioned that was something he would be interested in using," Kanuganti said. "There isn't anything else like it on the market, and after pulling together some prototypes, Matt said it was likely to become a game-changer for blind individuals."

Matt Brock wasn't the only person to pick up on Aira's potential.

After getting involved with charities and foundations for the blind, Kanuganti was introduced to Larry Bock, a celebrated and successful entrepreneur who believed in the Aira mission. Bock, who was blind, chose to invest in the company and also became Aira's Executive Chairman.

Changing Lives

"Whenever I try to explain it, it sounds too good to be true."

The beauty of Aira, according to Kanuganti, is the autonomy it allows users to experience.

"Whenever I try to explain it, it sounds too good to be true," he said. "When a blind person puts the glasses on, it allows them to do things that further enhances their life, and usually their reaction is 'wow.'"

The positive feedback Kanuganti and his team have received is what propels them forward.

"Knowing that those who have access to Aira are benefitting from it is wonderful to hear," he said. "They experience an increase of self-confidence, dignity, self-assurance, independence, and most of them who has tried it says it is life-changing."

The "Life-changing" aspect of Aira is what got investor Bock involved. Unfortunately, after helping Aira get off the ground, Bock recently passed away at the age of 56.

"We are going to honor him by making Aira successful," Kanuganti said. "He has been involved with lots of tech companies, but this was a cause that was near and dear to his heart."

#RadyMade

Positively impacting lives has been Kanuganti's mission since before enrolling at the Rady School of Management – he just needed the foundation.

He credits the Lab to Market program for helping him understand what it takes to develop an idea and transform it into a functional business.

"Lab to Market was huge for me – it gave me a good thought process of all the steps it takes to get a business off the ground," he said. "When we looked at the business plan, you see all the things you need to handle before you get started."

Moving forward, Kanuganti is looking forward to continue growing Aira and positively impacting as many lives as possible.

"The Rady School gave me the tools I needed to make Aira happen," he said. "I know Larry will be proud of the direction we're going in."