A bohemian is a actuality of absurd vision, addition who challenges the barometer and armament bodies to anticipate above the ordinary. YourStory is activity abaft the scenes to bare the inspirations and secrets of the ultimate bohemian in the business world: the entrepreneur.
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For what is addition but accomplishing things differently? And as a woman in tech who doesn’t code, Ashwini Asokan absolutely does not all the stereotypes.
At Mad Street Den, the AI startup which she launched in 2013 in Chennai forth with her bedmate Anand Chandrasekaran, Ashwini fills in the shoes of the CEO (with her bedmate as the CTO). The aggregation – MAD in MSD stands for Apperception Able Devices – specialises in computer eyes and bogus intelligence in a bid to anatomy models of generalisable intelligence on scale, which can be deployed through allusive applications beyond industries to billions of bodies beyond the globe.
In 2016, Ashwini and Anand launched Mad Street Den’s aboriginal flagship vertical, Vue.ai, an AI artefact that was congenital afterwards years of all-encompassing analysis on the applied applications of the technology and has aback afresh accurate to be a retail disruptor. From Indian retail above TataCliq to all-around retailers like Mercado Libre and Macy’s, Vue.ai currently boasts a affluent clientele.
It about seems like a accustomed progression of contest for Mad Street Den, and the accuracy abaft the startup. But ask Ashwini about this and she is quick to point out that it’s not absolutely the case. The tech administrator had never advancing this path. Her affection was, in fact, set in a absolutely altered direction.
Ashwini Asokan, Co-founder and CEO of Mad Street Den
From retail to defence and healthcare to fintech, the use of AI today is boundless beyond industries and verticals. And Ashwini’s brainchild, Vue.ai, which is an end-to-end retail automation platform, is absolutely one of the pioneers, application AI to authorize their cast and attendance in the retail sector.
But rewind a decade or two, and AI was conceivably the extreme anticipation on her mind. Ashwini, afresh an undergraduate at Chennai’s MOP Vaishnav College, was training in dance. And aback she absitively to carelessness her following of acceptable a able dancer, she was US-bound, advancing a career in artefact architecture and movement grammars at Carnegie Mellon, a move that would eventually acreage her at Intel.
Ashwini Asokan with her bedmate Anand Chandrasekaran
At Intel, her role as a artefact artist meant alive with a host of altered business teams, including anthropologists designers and human-computer alternation (HCI) teams. In fact, appear the end of her career at Intel, she was arch a aggregation architecture altered types of adaptable articles with AI at the core. “That’s how I got absorbed in AI to activate with,” she tells us, adding, “There came a point 10 years into my activity at Intel area I aloof knew I was ready. I’d aloof been cat-and-mouse and I aloof knew I was accessible to alpha our own company.”
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The husband-wife duo – Ashwini with her artefact designing years and Anand with his acquaintance as a neuroscientist – started brainstorming. The abutting affair they knew, they were wrapping up their activity in California in hot following of the ambitious aisle in India.
“We alarm ourselves a retail disruptor. Alike admitting we assignment with fashion, we additionally assignment with furniture, home goods, and added adjoining categories,” Ashwini says.
While MSD’s portfolio included gaming, adtech, and analytics companies, the startup’s advance was architecture a confusing tech belvedere in 2016 that was able of transforming the appearance retail sector. Vue.ai is an end-to-end retail automation belvedere that uses AI to automate abounding altered workflows central a retail organisation.
“Our catechism was actual simple,” shares Ashwini, “Can I barber off 25-50 percent of your time? And our accomplished apriorism was instead of somebody sitting and seeing every angel by angel and accomplishing this, we’ll aloof upload your absolute archive and our systems will automatically actualize all the abstracts you charge and accord it aback to you in whatever anatomy you want.”
Built about this idea, the AI belvedere today combines seven altered articles to booty affliction of retail processes forth with class management, administration and outfitting, archive tagging, artefact discovery, 3D archetypal generation, merchandising, cross-channel personalisation, and personalised marketing. It is a abounding assemblage that is acutely chip into the retail business to advice automate systems and actualize absolute value.
“Companies absorb so abounding millions of dollars every year on mannequins, studios, archetypal photography,” says Ashwini, “We absolved in and said, okay, you know, we can absolutely accomplish either the animal archetypal or an angel of the model… and visualise it in altered bark and anatomy types, and poses.”
By automating workflows and bringing in operational efficiency, the amount hypothesis of Vue.AI and MSD is that they save retail enterprises admired time and resources. So far, they accept generated 600 actor artefact tags, 1,000 agenda models, and curated over three billion outfits. The startup has helped accomplish 65 percent college acquirement per aggregation and adored time of up to 30 hours per anniversary per person. No admiration the hypothesis strikes a ambit with retailers beyond the globe.
Mad Street Den advance metrics
Starting with their aboriginal appointment in Chennai, Mad Street Den now has a concrete attendance beyond the US, Europe, and India with over a 100 advisers who are a mix of neuroscientists, abstracts scientists, computer eyes experts, marketers, and designers.
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No admiration afresh that Vue has traced its way to the investor’s acceptable books. The AI startup afresh aloft $17.7 actor in Series B allotment with accord from Falcon Edge Capital, Sequoia Basic India, and All-around Brain, a annular that took the absolute basic aloft to $27.5 million.
Moving ahead, though, the plan is to arrange the basic appear growing the team, absorption on the artefact roadmap, and ascent Vue’s absolute chump base. Afterwards all, cast adherence agency little today and accepting barter is conceivably the better claiming for retailers beyond the globe.
Every abstruse appearance causes a furore initially and the anecdotal about AI is no different. While some bodies accessory abhorrence with this technology – Elon Musk had infamously said that AI could actualize an “immortal dictator” – Ashwini chooses to focus on the absolute side.
But as a woman administrator in the AI industry, the action is twofold.
Firstly, there is the catechism of activity and scalability as far as AI is concerned. Afresh the retail area itself is catchy arena to footstep on. Ashwini explains that aback she started out the one affair that she was told time and afresh was that “retail is dead”, that there is no bazaar here, that the technology will never scale, that it’s too flawed.
“It’s a absolutely adamantine affair as a founder,” she says, “because you’re consistently analytic yourself.” But the adeptness to shut bottomward the criticism and the doubts, and focus on growing forth this aisle is key.
“There’s aptitude everywhere. If we can sit in Chennai and anatomy a computer eyes startup out of this burghal and accept 50 percent women in the company, anybody can do this anywhere,” she adds.
Not aloof through words, Mad Street Den has been allegorical this aesthetics in execution. Right from the CXO to the managers and access level, the startup has been acquainted in adopting a amalgamate application approach; article that Ashwini believes is now the DNA of her company.
Ashwini acerb believes that ball is the approaching of appearance in the retail business. Retail companies, she feels, will accept to accomplish agreeable that bodies appetite to appoint with. It’s band behaviour. To put it simply, if tomorrow Rihanna wears and promotes a accurate designer, you would apparently appetite to advance in that characterization too; it’s the activity of actuality a allotment of the appearance cult.
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It’s all a allotment of the evolving anecdotal about appearance retail and companies “need to be active abundant to advance and action a absurd cast experience”. Letting AI craftsmen like Vue booty affliction of annoying tasks and the operational workflow helps.
“They don’t charge to do all the added actuality that machines can do. [The retailers] can go focus on architecture absurd brands and experiences,” Ashwini says.
Ashwini, who is a best of women in tech, believes accepting gender diversity, assortment in talent, and assortment in altered disciplines is not a difficult proposition.
Her camp access is axiomatic in the actual way she treats the market. As addition who went from actuality an ambitious ballerina to a artefact artist and now an AI entrepreneur, it’s area she puts her faith: in accomplishing things differently.
Concept & Direction: Shivani Muthanna
Cinematographer: Rukmangada Raja
Video Editor: Shlok Bhatt
Writer: Sutrishna Ghosh
Content Editor: Teja Lele Desai
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