ApertureData has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $225,000 to conduct research and development (R&D) work on scaling ApertureData’s visual data management platform for enterprise scale applications. 

The proposed research will take ApertureData closer to realizing the vision of a unified data backend for all stages of machine learning (ML) from edge to cloud, removing inefficiencies introduced by repurposing systems designed for other workloads. Capturing business value from data via ML comprises multiple steps (data collection, curation, training, etc) and is currently being addressed by multiple siloed solutions that, when integrated, result in an inefficient system. Given that each of the different steps interacts with data in one way or another, offering a unified and efficient way to interact with the data regardless of the stage reduces the complexity of ML pipelines as they scale.

“NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.”

Improvements in ML have made it possible for businesses to extract rich insights from visual data (images, videos). Handling big-visual-data for ML requires storage and access methods that are designed with visual ML in mind. With the current off-the-shelf alternatives, ML engineers and data scientists are forced to glue data solutions not designed for visual data management. With our focus on the data side of ML deployments, ApertureData is well positioned to be the technical leader in addressing the next generation of challenges for ML based applications. This NSF grant will enable us to address the scalability challenges that are particularly magnified when dealing with image, videos, and its corresponding metadata like annotations and embeddings”, said Vishakha Gupta-Cledat, CEO and Co-founder of ApertureData, who will serve as the Principal Investigator for this grant.

Once a small business is awarded a Phase I SBIR/STTR grant (up to $256,000), it becomes eligible to apply for a Phase II grant (up to $1,000,000). Small businesses with Phase II grants are eligible to receive up to $500,000 in additional matching funds with qualifying third-party investment or sales.

Startups or entrepreneurs who submit a three-page Project Pitch will know within three weeks if they meet the program’s objectives to support innovative technologies that show promise of commercial and/or societal impact and involve a level of technical risk. Small businesses with innovative science and technology solutions, and commercial potential are encouraged to apply.All proposals submitted to the NSF SBIR/STTR program, also known as America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, undergo a rigorous merit-based review process. To learn more about America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF, visit: https://seedfund.nsf.gov/

About the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Programs: America’s Seed Fund powered by NSF awards $200 million annually to startups and small businesses, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. Startups working across almost all areas of science and technology can receive up to $1.75 million to support research and development (R&D), helping de-risk technology for commercial success. America’s Seed Fund is congressionally mandated through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The NSF is an independent federal agency with a budget of about $8.1 billion that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

About the Author – Vishakha Gupta

Vishakha is Co-founder and CEO of ApertureData. Prior to that, she worked at Intel Labs for over 7 years where she led the design and development of VDMS (the Visual Data Management System) which forms the core of the ApertureData Platform. Vishakha holds a Ph.D in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a M.S. in Information Networking from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests encompass systems in general with particular inclination towards virtualization, embedded and real time systems as well as distributed systems. She has worked on graph based storage and applications on non volatile memory systems. She loves to work on systems which impose stringent requirements in terms of software design and coding and call for innovative solutions. She has served on the program and steering committees of several premier systems conferences.

When I was accepted into the WIC accelerator, we had already sold a million-dollar solution.

Once!

Our solution had high development costs and was customized for a single line of business within a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company. I was lucky, I found a visionary who understood the goals of our system based on minimal functionality use cases from other clients. He “got it” verbally and made a case for it internally. That year, He spent a large portion of budget and I earned a “Top 25 women entrepreneurs in NJ” award for the system. A year in, the company sold off that line of business and my contact moved in a different direction. Despite quick adoption by a cross functional team, the new division head preferred spreadsheets and working harder, not smarter. We achieved sales sustaining the status quo for the next two years.

Things had to change, my partner and I made a significant decision for 2020: we would walk away from our current client base to re-imagine our system. We would start from the ground up and find a way to turn clinical data into action with a multi-tenant solution that streamlines drug development for all the pharma companies. Reframing the system in this way would allow us to impact more scientific innovations that improve patient outcomes. We had enough money set aside to spend some time thinking, an absolute luxury for a bootstrapped entrepreneur.

A few days into January, I sat at my computer and I started searching.. what do we do? who could help us? I stared into the empty darkness of the internet with zero answers or even so much as a direction, I honestly didn’t know where to start. By simple chance, I came across a TED talk by this woman Chaitra Vedullapalli. Who was this woman and is she real when she talks about collective action and access for women? Here I am a woman who had sold a million-dollar solution but didn’t know how to take the next step and not quite feeling like there was much help out there, especially in pharma. Chaitra’s TED talk led me to Women in Cloud, and I noticed the annual summit was two weeks later! I did research and simmered on it for a day. It wouldn’t stop poking at me…. I just knew- absolutely knew I had to go, despite the fact I am the scientific side of the business and my male partner leads the technology. I wasn’t sure what “right” I had going to a technology summit at the corporate headquarters of Microsoft. However, my partner was supportive. Lesson 1: Never ignore your intuition! When I was (much) younger in corporate, I was on a VP track and had a boss who didn’t promote me because “I do all the right things successfully, but I can’t always explain why I do them”. I joked with him that I had women’s intuition. He told me that doesn’t fly in business, and my comment confirmed his lack of promotion (oddly my male equivalent got that promotion). Today, I am a strong believer that intuition is usually right- follow it! It stimulated a million-dollar sale and brought me to my first Women in Cloud Summit.

Lesson 2: Maximize your opportunities! The week before the summit, I planned. I took the agenda posted from the WIC summit and put a personal calendar together that maximized the day. I planned on attending individual sessions from both the business and leadership tracks- because that is what my company and I personally needed! My partner provided mini-crash courses, so I wasn’t walking into any one session completely unaware. I also reviewed the speakers list and planned who I needed to meet.

Planning ahead for the WIC summit absolutely maximized what I got out of it!  I tool an entire pad full of notes that day! Questions were answered, gaps were filled, and next generation tactics were developed for both my personal direction as a CEO and what we needed to do next for the product.

I positioned myself at tables with the people I most wanted to meet and walked away with new contacts. This was personal growth for me. I’m an introverted scientist at heart. Technology isn’t strong in my wheelhouse and meeting new people is not something that comes naturally. Despite the uphill battles being fought in my mind, I left this summit energized and excited for the business and my role in a way I haven’t been in years! I talked about it for days and let new plans form and churn in my brain.

But surely, this is one of those events that corporations support, get people excited and then back off into their own world. So, I tested my theory: I followed up on LinkedIn with new contacts and people who I heard speak at the summit. I started each note with “I heard you say XYZ at the summit and I learned XYZ.” Every – Single – Person – responded! Powerhouse women – Gavriella Schuster and Gretchen O’Hara from Microsoft, Patty Kuderer- WA State Senator and Gillian Musseig from Outlines Ventures to “name names” all replied with notes of encouragement. I was truly mystified; it is unrealistic to have such support from the industry I grew up in. Maybe this woman Chaitra is real, and this was not just a one-day of collective action. Maybe this group of women and their allies are truly different. Intuition poked at me again, but this time supported with experience-based evidence. I applied for – and was accepted into the Women in Cloud Accelerator Cohort 3.0!

On your mark, get set…. COVID! While all this momentum, excitement and planning was underway to start the WIC cohort 3.0, COVID-19 comes to America and hits the NYC and Seattle area hard! The opportunity for facetime with important, game-changing women was monumental then the news arrives that I will be part of the first digital cohort.

Lesson 3: Be Flexible and Reset the Course! While I was disappointed for the change to a digital accelerator, I certainly understood and agreed with the format given the state of the world. I’m still a scientist first, and after attending an international call of virologists around the world, I was thankful for the decision. We likely have more time to work within the accelerator and connect more frequently. When the contacts became weekly, this is when the value of the accelerator set in. Highlighting and solving problems as a team eventually became more natural. If we hadn’t been flexible, it is unlikely the accelerator would have even got off the ground by the summer. Resetting the course was an entirely different challenge. WIC itself had to take a live course and make it digital, which seemed like it hardly took any time, but I am sure it took much effort. Our business had to reset a course too. Our system focuses on emerging diseases, which are scientifically complicated, have a multitude of new therapies-in-development, and affect large patient populations with significant unmet medical needs. Before the accelerator, there were ten different diseases that qualified for this category and we were considering for our launch on Azure. However, we quickly reset the course to focus on COVID-19 as the first emerging disease within our solution, The Scientific Data Engine (SDE). To help with this pandemic, we need answers, therapies vaccines etc. Our system expedites development of these scientific innovations. We had to reset our course without doubt.

Lesson 4: Go Through the Steps of the Accelerator! As entrepreneurs, we are naturally geared to go-go-go and make it happen. Immediately, I followed my own lesson to be flexible and reset the course of our focus to be on COVID, so surely Microsoft will understand that our solution can help solve the problem and save lives during this awful pandemic…. Someone must want to talk to me, before the accelerator even starts-so let me reach out to some of those contacts I made earlier. Somewhat laughable now, but one of the earlier accelerator meetings Chaitra asked us not to reach out, that we are better collectively and if we try to do this alone, we will fail. Not only did this fail, which was at first frustrating, but I am now glad it failed- rephrased I had the opportunity to learn and fine-tune my business to be more enterprise ready.  Had I “sprang” earlier, I really think my business would have been set on a backwards course. The remaining lessons in this blog are hopefully part of the fine-tuning that not only makes our company enterprise ready- but also forward facing and more importantly, “sticky!”

Lesson 5: Challenge Your Current Knowledge Base with A New Lens: I’ve had a vision for a while that patient care could be optimized if everyone in healthcare just worked together. Instead, we have these silos with individual agendas which works but never excels. For more than a while, I have wanted to find a way to make my vision come to life. One of the first exercises we had to accomplish in the accelerator was to develop our business model. Ok, easy-peasy, I have one already! But when I tried to fit it into the homework sheet, it wouldn’t fit! It was wrong- terribly wrong! I spent weeks on this. I played with a couple of key changes to make my vision come to life. I worked hard. Then it came, my “in the shower” moment (you know those times when you aren’t thinking about the problem but the answer just appears) except I was at the end of online yoga class meditating in Savasana (corpse pose) my mind was empty and there it was- the hidden revenue model that meets the needs and unifies the critical stakeholders responsible for developing, implementing and guiding patient treatment. If you told me that I was going to spend the first few weeks of the accelerator working on a business model, I likely wouldn’t have joined- you know, because I had one. But seeing how it didn’t fit into an enterprise ready model allowed me to challenge what I thought I knew with a new lens.

Lesson 5: Learn How to Properly Boil the Ocean: Some of these “lessons” are actually best practices I’ve used prior to WIC and hope they hold some value for others reading this. Boiling the ocean however is a blatant and hard lesson I am learning at WIC. I owe this phrase to my mentor Chaitra. The first time she said “stop trying to boil the ocean” to me, I hesitated but didn’t really think much about it. C’mon, she didn’t mean me- I can handle A LOT. The second time I heard Chaitra say it to another cohort member, I thought to myself “yeah she is trying to do too much at once, it won’t stick” BUT…..The third time it was said to me I stopped in my tracks and I got it. She wasn’t telling me I couldn’t handle it, she was politely telling me that I was trying to implement a 5-year business plan in 6 months, and it won’t stick like that. Yes, I can handle a lot, but moving my business forward isn’t about what I can do- it’s about how much the world can take. My solution plus this amazing business model inspired during the accelerator requires changing the status quo and shaking up the way “things are done” in healthcare. Change often brings resistance and it will simple take time for it to be “sticky”- even if the solution is obviously needed right now! No change of this magnitude happened overnight. I need to break down my solution into manageable pots of water that together comprise the entire ocean and serve it over time in manageable components that foster real change. If I don’t, my solution will never work… or it will work but it won’t stick (which is what I now believe happened a few years ago)! Being sticky is like boiling the ocean, it is impossible, but boiling the water one pot at a time is the way lifechanging solutions come to life. I’m halfway thru the accelerator at this point in time…this is the biggest lesson I’ve learned and the biggest challenge I am working to address!

To be continued………….

About the Author – Donna Conroy

Donna founded SciMar ONE in 2003 with the objective of translating complicated Science to the healthcare Market. Under her leadership throughout the years, multiple challenged pharmaceutical products were transformed into viable and profitable therapies in competitive markets.  Donna’s long-term vision is to replace patient & caregiver fears and confusion with improved industry wide education for informed healthcare decision-making. Today, SciMar strives to disrupt the healthcare industry by unifying stakeholders thru a platform that standardizes medical knowledge with AI supporting this critical transformation in the patient experience. Donna believes that travel brings empathy and understanding to everyday life and enjoys trips with her husband and four children. Personal enjoyment is found in daily yoga, stand-up paddleboarding, skiing, and food and wine (science experiments one can eat)!

Women in Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator is back! The Women in Cloud team is immensely happy to announce Cohort 3.0 after two successful cohorts which have expanded knowledge, access and inclusivity of entrepreneurs, while adding dollars to the economic system in the technology sector. 

Since initiation Women in Cloud’s mission has been to create Access for Acceleration to promote Action. Women In Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator is designed as an immersive 6 month program to assist women-led tech companies to co-build, co-market and co-sell with Microsoft and their distribution channels. This program is expertly designed to help women entrepreneurs win enterprise opportunities, get access to Azure credits, an advisor community, and a global stage to showcase your business.

The 3.0 Cohort Immersive Kickoff session was on 26 March, 2020. The first session featured curated speakers, Chaitra Vedullapalli, Co-Founder and President of WiC; Karen Fassio, Marketing Director of Microsoft OCP and Co-Founder of WiC; Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer of New York City Comptroller Office; Shari Burk, Founder & CEO of Vision Platform; and Patti Dobrowolski, CEO & Creative Activator of Up Your Creative Genius. The speakers consisted of founders, industry leaders and previous cohort entrepreneurs who set the tone for the new class about the current industry landscape, how to vision their cloud businesses, along with deliverables and takeaways by the end of 6 months. 

The cohort 3.0 is different from the previous editions for a number of reasons. Apart from being more structured with the use of the #WiCDigitalNetwork as a home base for the lessons, this cohort program empowers entrepreneurs to more effectively connect as a community and access necessary resources to ultimately grow their business. COVID-19 has had a direct impact on our accelerator program and the way we conduct the program itself, but the pandemic has not stopped us. We have creatively found our way around it using effective digital tools to achieve more efficiency. 

Our scheduled in-person kick-off session was conducted digitally this year. The several meetings that were conducted in-person previously are now completely digital. Going digital has let us expand our horizon and open this program to people from around the world rather than just a region. The Digital Cloud Accelerator online course launch is on the agenda next. There is a positive shift in the attitude of entrepreneurs to continue learning, working towards growing their companies and bettering themselves in this time of uncertainty. 

This year’s WiC Microsoft Cloud Accelerator is more than just an effort to make economic contributions to the system by empowering entrepreneurs. It is about embracing the new normal and moving forward with a sense of community. It is about adopting self-empowerment and finding comfort in knowing where to turn for support with a community at your side. Most importantly, it is about collective growth and learning.

The cohort 3.0 will continue with various digital lessons, live speaker interviews, weekly digital office hours, and monthly team working sessions with everybody involved. The syllabus is shaped in a way to make it easier for entrepreneurs to seek answers and find success individually. Until we are safe to meet our leaders and entrepreneurs in person to celebrate the progress we will have made, we are all committed to taking part in this journey together. 

Thank you for such a wonderful kickoff. Your flexibility and commitment to launch the program during this testing time is greatly appreciated. We as the COVID Cohort will become the force for change by building solutions not crippled by this chaos. Look forward to this journey with this great group.

Thank you for such a wonderful kickoff. Your flexibility and commitment to launch the program during this testing time is greatly appreciated. We as the COVID Cohort will become the force for change by building solutions not crippled by this chaos. Look forward to this journey with this great group.” – Gowri Selka, Volantsys

Yah great session ! Thank you ! Especially the “customer value prop #madlib exercise” ..
I’ve encountered a lot of enterprise sales folks at could use that exercise – for all parties benefits – before they approach a customer ! #goodone
” – Ellen Feaheny, Appfusion

Presenting the Women in Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator Cohort 3.0:

  • SciMarONE – Donna Conroy
  • Rainbow Password – Nehal Mehta
  • illuxi – Genevieve Desautels
  • Resume Free Inc. – Allie Knull 
  • Agtools Inc – Martha Montoya
  • ELYON International, Inc. – Carmen Nazario 
  • Intect, Inc – Lisa Jain
  • X0PA Ai Pte Ltd – Nina Alag Suri
  • Volantsys Analytics – Gowri Selka 
  • Appfusions – Ellen Feaheny
  • Stimulus, Inc. – Tiffanie Stanard 
  • ApertureData – Vishakha Gupta

We live in a digital world and are connected by a click! So, Women in Cloud is excited to announce the first ever digital kickoff of the Women in Cloud Microsoft New York Accelerator on 26 March, 2020.

Changing times requires us to take necessary actions. We are sorry to inform you that the Women in Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator Launch in New York City (previously scheduled for 19 March, 2020) has been cancelled due to rising concerns and spread of COVID-19. We want to ensure that the members of our community and their families stay safe throughout this time. 

We at Women in Cloud are eager to work our way around this difficult time and keep the spirit up for the mission! 

Women In Cloud Microsoft Cloud Accelerator is an immersive 6-month program to assist women led tech companies to co-build, co-market and co-sell with Microsoft and their distribution channels. This program is a program involving a 7 stage curriculum, designed to help you win enterprise opportunities, get access to Azure credits, an advisor community, and global stage to showcase your business. The program has created $100M in net new opportunities to date. 

We bring another exciting news to you. The Women in Cloud #CloudInnovateHERxNewYork Pitch Challenge which was scheduled along with the inauguration of the accelerator program is now being relaunched as the #CloudInnovateHERxDigital Pitch Challenge. This pitch challenge is now open to every female tech leader on the planet, and will take place digitally on 3 April, 2020. This pitch challenge is an opportunity for  women-owned tech businesses to find commercial success by showcasing their enterprise-ready cloud solutions and win $5000 along with other offers. 

Our commitment to our mission is stronger than ever and will not be stopped. While we may have to work around difficult times, our spirits are high. Please join us for our digital event and experience the power of technology!

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION

Ottawa, March 6, 2020 – Today, the community-led initiative empowering women-led STEM businesses with $1 billion in economic access by 2030, Women in Cloud, is proud to have launched a new 21 Days of Economic Access social media campaign on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in partnership with Invest Ottawa.

“Today only 2 percent of women-led businesses in STEM win $1 million contracts,” said Chaitra Vedullapalli, Co-Founder of Meylah and Women in Cloud. “The goal of this campaign is to engage key public officials and corporate executives in Canada and the United States to give women greater access to existing procurement vehicles for women in technology business owners so we can increase their profitability while creating jobs.”

Notable women being featured as part of the campaign via spotlight and video stories include: The Right Honorable Kim Campbell, Canada’s first and only woman Prime Minister, Washington State Senator Patty Kuderer, Kate Roberts, Founder of the Maverick Collective and Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, to name a few. 

Women in Cloud is an official partner of the United Nations and this campaign helps advance the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #5 to enable women to access $1 Billion in cloud opportunities. This campaign is supported by major partners such as Microsoft, Meylah and will extend to additional major markets such as India later in 2020. 

“Women in Cloud is proud to have created a proven entrepreneurship accelerator and aI-powered technology that governments and companies alike can leverage to help women in STEM win the $1 million contracts they need to scale their businesses and secure systemic shifts in the Canadian and American procurement sectors,” said Karen Fassio, Women in Cloud Co-founder.

Women in Cloud is a community-led initiative supporting female technology entrepreneurs. Through private-public partnerships with innovative companies and leaders in technology, Women in Cloud creates access to partnership opportunities, programs that accelerate business growth in the cloud and strategic alliances that advance the success of women in tech. For more information about Women in Cloud and the Women in Cloud Summit please visit the website at www.womenincloud.com.

Download Press Release

Access 21 Days of Action Promo Kit

For more information please contact:

Olivia Becthold | Media Advisor | M&C Consulting | olivia@mingarelliandcompany.com |

1-613-539-5489