StartR's Aira.IO Welcomes Local Entrepreneur as Investor and Executive Chairman
Aira.IO,one of this year’s StartR accelerator teams at the Rady School of Management, recently welcomed entrepreneur Larry Bock, a well-known San Diego startup guru, as an investor and executive chairman. StartR accelerator is a nonprofit resource for Rady School students and alumni to jumpstart their developing businesses. The program offers mentoring, educational workshops, access to funding and other resources to six new teams every academic term.
Aira.IO provides assistance to blind and low-vision users through live data from cameras, GPS and other sensors on wearable platforms such as Google Glass. It connects users with remote agents, who have been trained by Aira.IO to interpret the data stream from the smart glasses and assist users in navigating their worlds. The device uses an intelligent routing algorithm based on user and agent preference. The product allows blind and low-vision individuals to gain back their independence and to enhance their mobility and self-confidence, while simplifying complexities of their daily life such as shopping, travel, transportation and facial recognition of individuals in groups or crowds. The company was founded by Rady School alum Suman Kanuganti (MBA ’14).
“For a startup, having an experienced person, like Larry Bock, who understands the product and has a real passion for it is a huge help,” said Aira.IO founder Kanuganti. “Larry was one of the first people to see that what we are doing is new and revolutionary and actually believe in it.”
Bock is a self-proclaimed “serial investor” who has founded or co-founded over 50 startups which currently have a cumulative market capitalization of $70 billion. He is also the founder of the USA Science and Engineering Festival, as well as the San Diego Science Festival. In addition to becoming an investor and executive chairman of the company, he is also a user of the product.
“StartR accelerator has been very helpful in bringing together all of Aira’s employees, who are mostly UC San Diego students. Through the program, we made connections which have helped us with marketing and patenting, developing a business model and gathering feedback,” said Kanuganti.
Beta testing of Aira.IO’s product is set to begin this summer, with Aira services and technology scheduled to be made available to the public by the first quarter of 2016. Currently, the company has over 100 testers prepared to participate. In addition, the company has applied for incubation with Evonexus, a leading startup technology incubator in Southern California. Aira.io intends to continue building its board of advisors using experts in the industry, and to continue to learn about how best to leverage technology to serve low-vision and blind individuals.
In addition to Aira.IO, the current StartR accelerator teams include Cannabinoid Therapeutics, Hydroceuticals, Insilico Scientific and ServicePair. Products range from Hydroceuticals’ vitamin-enhanced bottled water to ServicePair’s mobile construction contracting app.