Once I finished writing the paper and my PhD thesis, I took a short break from academia, taking advantage of the lag phase between paper submission and acceptance. I was invited to be part of the first Bangalore cohort of Entrepreneur First in Jan, 2019. There, I co-founded LightSpeedAI Labs, a startup focused on performing ML/AI computations using optical hardware.
During my time with the company (2019 to mid-2020), I handled the conceptualization of possible implementations of ML/AI algorithms and its influence on the design of the optical computing hardware. In addition, I also took on the role of the CEO of the company and raised investments. Here is a video of my company pitch to ~400 investors in Singapore and Bangalore:
Earlier this year, we slightly shifted the company directions. I realized that this new direction was not something I am passionate about and that my interest lies in the realm of scientific discovery, with a penchant for neural computing. I therefore decided to move on from LightSpeedAI Labs, passing the reins to my co-founder who will be running the company.
The time I spent working for my startup was a fun learning experience. Apart from diving deep into ML/AI techniques, I also learned how to talk to investors, give pitches to a huge group of them (like the video above), create financial models of growth, write grant proposals, apply for competitions, etc. Alongside all this, I was part of the recruitment process set up to hire like-minded people who would help the company grow. All these experiences, despite being crazy amounts of work, enabled me to grow as an individual.