Joyeeta Das is founder and chief executive of GyanaAI, a self-service data science platform that enables insights around locations and places using big data and artificial intelligence technologies. Her early career began working in engineering, programme management, having risen through the leadership ranks in large international tech companies including Cisco and Wipro. Joyeeta holds two undergraduate degrees, in electronics engineering from the West Bengal University of Technology as well as physics, and an MBA from the Saїd Business School at the University of Oxford, where she received a Fellowship from their Entrepreneurship Centre.
“…Artificial intelligence and big data are part of a revolution that has already started … There never has been a more empowered age…”
From tinkering with broken TV sets to Silicon Valley
I always enjoyed tech – even as a tiny girl. My mother is a scientist / teacher, my dad was an architect and all my grandparents are into science as well. I loved tinkering and making stuff out of broken TV sets. I joined a robotics club at 15 – where I was the only girl – and afterwards I formed a nanotech club. Again, only boys turned up.
As an adult, I started out as techie and worked in software engineering. I have worked in some top tech companies where I quickly moved from software engineering to management roles. I travelled and lived in Silicon Valley, Amsterdam, London, and eventually started dabbling with my own ventures. I never knew anything other than tech – I live, breathe, sleep tech!
However, I have always loved art and parallel trained in dancing / painting – most people do not know I am a full graduate with a distinction in international fine arts and classical dancing in addition to my STEM degrees. My latest passion is drone photography as it marries the best of both worlds – art and tech. This dual perspective helps me balance life. My career has always been about finding art in tech and tech in art.
Creating a digital representation of the physical world to help people make better decisions
GyanaAI is a digital version of the physical world made by joining several digital sources of data. I look around me and I find plenty of evidence of short sighted decisions by decision makers, whether it’s political or business leaders. I thought: “We have terabytes floating around us already but everyone is only looking at a siloed version of reality.” (That is, only their own data.) “If we can bring all these varied data sources together from outside – the big picture emerges easily.”
Weather / social media / travel / financial / telecoms – when we bring everything together we see the complete picture. Maybe all companies will make better decisions and we will have global growth. Look at kids – how do they learn about the world? They don’t just touch, they remember, they speak and listen, and they also learn colours.
A comprehensive picture of reality always needs many different kinds of data all in one place. In order to make high quality decisions, we must be empowered by high quality conglomeration of varied data sources.
GyanaAI is a self-serve platform that provides on-demand insights on people and places. Our SaaS (software as a service) web-based product empowers anybody to ask – “What kind of people visit this area?” – “Where else do my customers shop?” – “How is this street changing over the last year?” – and get an answer in seconds. The insights are driven by our digital representation of the world. It’s an intelligent data store built from our network of over 50 data partners, measuring factors like weather and human movement. Our artificial intelligence-powered infrastructure connects data producers to people who need answers, opening up a new market for data insights.
My role requires 10% relationship building, 20% strategy, 20% commercial focus, 20% financial and legal focus, 15% operational focus, 5% human resources focus and 10% firefighting. I am looking at how all KPIs (key performance indicators) and functions are evolving, creating dialogues with people and reaching out to investors / shareholders and some high-value customers. I also (reluctantly) attend some networking dinners and events.
Once every two weeks, I take out half a weekend to educate myself and up-skill or learn new things for work. I am very intense and I prepare for everything. Even the smallest internal meeting – I spend some time thinking. I worry about competition and I keep myself abreast of every piece of news inside the organisation as well as outside.
I wake up at 5am and do yoga / meditation and then I am at work by 8am at the latest with a packed light lunch, breakfast and sometimes even a porridge pack for dinner! Weekdays are intense for me.
At weekends I tend to check emails and do light work on one of the days and I take a complete day off on one of the days (unless emergencies are involved at work).
A revolution has already started
Artificial intelligence and big data are part of a revolution that has already started, right from medtech to retail to fintech – the consumer now has it all. There never has been a more empowered age, but I believe there never has been the need for us to be more careful than we are now. Identity theft, cybercrime, hacking, data leaks are all possible at the same speed at which progress is now being made available.
I am excited by the potential brought about by technological advancement, but I hope we make robust progress with good quality procedures in place for humanity.
Being an Innovate UK Women in Focus Ambassador
My role as an Innovate UK Women in Focus Ambassador is mainly about supporting women with business ideas and identifying those who deserve future doors to be opened up for them. Mentorship, funding, introductions – all kinds of mechanisms are available to take these business ideas forward.
Why gender balance is so important to enable true innovation in tech
Different brains have different patterns and when we put different patterns together, we get a 360-degree perspective of life. Similarly, technology is powerful, and such a power must be created by diverse sources. Only then can we eliminate biases at the source itself.
Also, if we do not encourage women to participate, we’re losing out on 50% of the human potential that is embedded in our world. True innovation is about solving unique global problems. How can we do this without a global diverse perspective?
Whole new doorways of possibilities
I am very excited about artificial realistic synthetic data, robots making art – with voices indistinguishable from humans. Robots will also be able to make background scenery perfect in videos from scratch etc. This opens up whole new doorways of possibilities.
I am also looking forward to drone deliveries and automated cars and vans as this will mean a level of bandwidth available to humans that was unprecedented before – transport can change forever. Personalised healthcare, beauty and services will reach uncanny levels soon. Quantum tech is going to be more accessible in the next decade – this is mind-blowing!
Above all, I am excited by platforms such as ours that bring massive quantities of data ethically, at scale and robustly to create a comprehensive picture of reality because this means now we can even quantify some of our intuitive senses. I am looking forward to gene technologies and artificial organ creation as the impact to human longevity and health is unparalleled.
As space travel becomes more feasible this will be essential. Crypto currencies are quite the fad at the moment and I wonder where all this will lead.
In short – a new world order is definitely here and I’m looking forward to embracing it through my work at GyanaAI.