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Fireside chat with Sravan Puttagunta, CEO of Hyperspec AI

Who is Sravan Puttagunta?

I’m Sravan Puttagunta, the CEO of Hyperspec. I’m originally from South India and moved to the United States in 1996. I have always been fond of entrepreneurship. At the age of 11, I started a web hosting company and ventured into event planning when I was 21. My need to hustle put me on a path of self discovery and interest in building companies. Today, I’m a three time entrepreneur who has focused on developing computer vision based systems, making meaningful contributions at 3 different companies. My journey started as a lead algorithm designer for Samba.tv, developing an automatic content recognition system for televisions (think Shazam for TV). This is now deployed in 40 million televisions. I then started Civil Maps as founding CEO, a company focused on high definition mapping for self driving cars. I grew the company to a $100M organization before moving on to my next role. At Hyperspec I am also the founding CEO, and I am focused on unlocking 95% of roadways for autonomous vehicles.

Personally I am motivated by taking a first principles approach to solving challenges and using my common sense to introduce simplicity into otherwise complex environments. I believe the path to success is the ability to help evolve the market towards less friction, more value, more accessibility and larger demand.

What’s the story behind Hyperspec AI?

Autonomous cars were supposed to be here in 2020. We were all supposed to be able to hail our next Uber or Lyft and it was going to be autonomous. Fast forward to September 2021, and we still don’t see pervasive autonomy everywhere. There are a couple companies like Tesla who have pushed the boundaries but we are not where we should be. Hyperspec is focused on unlocking 95% of roadways so they are accessible to autonomous vehicles. Currently the key bottleneck is the dependency on High Definition maps which describe the road geometry to the vehicle for motion planning. These high definition maps only have 3% coverage on US roadways. Hyperspec enables the creation of real-time maps using the car’s computing power instead of backhauling the sensor data to a central location for map generation. This reduces turn around time from several months to 50 milliseconds, and reduces the cost per kilometer from $5000 to a negligible cost.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

Finding purpose is the most difficult part of building a company. A startup is an organization in search of a purpose where it can offer a solution to a problem with repeatability. The ability to scale comes from the ability to create a product that many people want. This requires a lot of patience, determination and detachment from ego to evolve the idea into something the market wants. We here at Hyperspec have conducted over 300 customer interviews and have focused a ton of time and energy on building a vision that helps solve real problems for the industry, helping create a future where autonomy is available universally and affordable.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

We have a very diverse, talented team that emphasizes culture, respect and innovation. We have to protect and cultivate this culture. The team really values personal growth, the journey of being in a startup and fearlessness in building the company. We focus on inspiring every new teammate and also look to learn from the best practices in the industry. Being humble yet pushing the envelope is a culture unique to Hyperspec AI. As we grow, we hope to cherish and grow this culture.

What is your vision for the future of Hyperspec AI?

Hyperspec AI will redefine the unit economics for self driving. Our goal is to accelerate adoption, safety, affordability and reach of autonomous travel. We emphasize on providing vehicles critical thinking instead of saving all the intelligence in a pre-coded map which might be stale by the time the starts driving.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

I think it is important to embrace change. The industry and economy is undergoing a fundamental change. We are working on building large scale mapping solutions for autonomous vehicles that fundamentally redefine unit economics. Scaling and versatility are two important KPIs for all the parties involved.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

The speed of edge computing hardware and the advancements in AI will enable us to create real time online HD maps without hand coded annotation pipelines. A scalable online HD Map stack unlocks self driving cars to be truly ubiquitous.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

Extreme Programming, Three Body Problem, Ready Player One, 2032, LOTR, Harry Potter.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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