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Ashwini Asokan, co-founded Mad Street Den, a Computer Vision and Artifical Intelligence Startup (AI) that today works with some of India’s hottest e-commerce and fashion ventures.
Ashwini Asokan, a Product Designer, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University, and joined Intel in early 2000. At Intel she worked in collabaration with mutilple business units and innovation teams. At a crucial time when people were moving from desktops to smart phones and smart TVs, Ashwini contributed in ensuring the usability and functionality of products for users.
In 2013, Ashwini and her neuroscientist husband Anand took the bold step of starting Mad Street Den, despite AI not being more than a buzzword in the industry. During this period Mad Street Den started building tools and prototypes in different domains and that’s really when they were approached by investors.
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Getting started with good networking and being first in the space of artificial intelligence went to Mad Street Den’s advantage. As word got around in the market, many investors who were interested in experimenting and exploring with AI approached them. Ashwini’s company therefore has a story different from that of other startups, with investors queuing up to invest in them.
Given the cutting edge space they are in, I asked Ashwini about the what drives innovation at Mad Street Den. “No matter what we build, at the end we should be able to put it in billions of hands”, responds Ashwini. Their vision is to bring artificial intelligence to impact on everybody’s lives.
The team consists of data scientists, fashion designers, product designers, neuroscientists and computer vision engineers who work in a highly collaborative environment to create an uber cool end user experience. So, the next time you come across a fashion portal that seems to throw up exactly the products you want, you know what possibly lies behind it!
The reality is, artificial Intelligence based recommendations and user experience is not a businesses that too many entrepreneurs have experimented with, be it men or women. So, Mad Street Den’s journey could not have been easy. For any business to work ,”Every team member needs to take up the responsibility and do multiple things on their own.There should be a hunger to grow, to take up challenges everyday – this helps any business on a small budget”, says Ashwini.
For every startup, while there is a financial crunch in the initial days, she believes that focusing on the vision rather than just chasing the money is the key to success.
Ashwini believes passionately that the representation of women across all areas of opportunity should be equal, and if it is not, one has to demand it. She wants more women to come up and share their success stories at events.
She has seen a lot of women working on startups, and taking up challenges, and adds that they manage their personal and professional life excellently.
At the upcoming Women’s Web #BreakingBarriers event, Ashwini is looking forward to meet an audience who will challenge her with their questions. She believes that idolizing or admiring any personality should not be the only take away from any event. Rather, she loves audiences to think critically and make the session interactive.
Akshata Desai is a digital marketing enthusiast and mom currently charting her own return to
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