Pavan Vyas, CEO of technology studio Rush, discusses the potential for AI and places his bet on the tech which will revolutionise the world in the next few years.
What does your business do?
We are an integrated design and technology studio and have clients as big as Google and as little as exciting tech start-ups; we help them re-imagine their future and then create their own digital customer service experiences by building digital products or projects. We basically help companies navigate their digital future.
Recent clients include Z Energy, Google, Spark, Disney, ASB, Microsoft, NZME, EROAD, Starship Hospital and University of Auckland.
What was the motivation for starting it?
Rush was founded by an entrepreneur called Danu Abeysuriya, I am the CEO and I joined the business around three years ago. Danu's motivation came when smartphones were springing out everywhere around 10 years ago. He created Rush to tackle how web developers create amazing mobile games that people would want to play so it started out as a gaming platform. It has expanded a lot since and does a bunch of other stuff, not just game tech.
How big is your team?
We have 80 people and a lot of that growth came in the last 18 to 24 months. Practically, it's been really painful - scaling fast is not as easy as it sounds, it's actually quite difficult. Talent is also difficult to acquire. This time last year had around 35 employees so we've more than doubled in the last 12 months.
We're also about to hit another hiring spike meaning in the next month we'll be nearer to 100. We're looking for engineers, designers and client service people.
What's Rush's focus, currently?
We're investing a lot into our own research and development efforts, we've got a team that is trying to create product in the areas of computer vision and also natural language processing, chat bots and voice.
What other technologies is the company creating?
We're really good at blending physical and digital environments as well. We do voice-based work on Alexa and Google Homes, we create 3D-printed hardware with electronics in it which people can feel and touch. When people work with technology these days, quite often that's through apps and other technology that has been around for a while and we're quite good at taking those and sprucing them up. These days with AI, we're building better models and machine models that help computers be more intelligent and augment human behaviour.
What technology are you betting on blowing up in popularity?
We think computer vision is going to eat the world. If you think about the human brain, AI is basically computers trying to mimic how the human brain works. Fifty per cent of what we do or think about or are emotive about is the brain reacting to what our eyes see. Cameras are everywhere, they're getting cheaper and as computers get more and more powerful and more reliable, we think computer vision - the ability for computers to see and make sense of the world - is going to drive a generation that you and I can't even comprehend.
Cameras have the ability to make life easier from an experience perspective. As a sub-set of AI, it is hugely powerful. If you think about what's going on in China with state-sponsored computer vision, we want to use that force for good.
Are New Zealand companies utilising AI and other technologies?
They are starting to - they have been laggard. Not many bold New Zealand companies have stood up and acknowledged that AI is going to make them relevant. Organisations are only now starting to take the technology seriously.
Where does the business want to be in the next 12 months?
In the next 12 months we want to be serving a lot more New Zealand companies. We're also discussing whether we take our business global on our current business model or do we take it global from a product sense, do we open lots of new offices around the globe or do we offer more services. My hypothesis is that we go global with our own set of products which compliment our services.
What advice do you give others thinking about starting their own business?
Don't do it alone. Smart people out there can help by bringing into the business. The more smart people you have in leadership positions, earlier, the better.