Please introduce yourself and your company.
We’re Brunno Attorre and Bill Marino. We’re the founders of Uru. Our company is dedicated to using artificial intelligence (especially computer vision) to pair brands with visual content (photos and videos) in viewer-friendly, brand-safe ways.
How are you disrupting your industry?
It’s no secret that ads are still one of the low points of the video or photo viewing adventure. They’re obtrusive, they don’t harmonize with whatever you’re watching. We were at Cornell Tech doing a lot of work with computer vision and other machine learning and saw that it doesn’t need to be like this anymore. So we built technology that creates ad experiences which are spawned based on a deep understanding of the content —and are much better for everyone as a result. We’re currently testing it with some of the biggest media names out there.
What’s been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
Doing machine learning at high scale, especially for something as data-rich as video or images, is very demanding from an engineering point of view. There is also a lot of cutting-edge research we do. It’s hard to find folks with the chops to handle both skillfully, but we really hit home-runs with our first few additions to the team. Hiring was made easier because we had lots of help meeting talent — help from folks like, Cornell, Notation Capital, and our other great investors. Thanks again, #teamuru!
What’s your most and least favorite part of your job?
The best part of the job is creating a company that is essentially what, in sci-fi, you might call terraforming — building a new Earth. You can create an entire culture and product and, in our case, even a market and ecosystem from the ground up. It is profoundly gratifying.
The worst part of the job is choosing a logo. It is so hard. That is why we have a few different Uru logos that you’ll see around. Bands are allowed to have more than one logo, so why not startups?
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting a new business?
From day one, think not only about the product you’re building but also about the culture you’re building. Meticulously. The groundbreaking companies of our era don’t get enough credit for having sculpted fertile corporate cultures in addition to stellar products. Evidence suggests the latter depends on the former.
What’s the most beneficial part of being within the Grand Central Tech ecosystem?
Being around all these other great teams. With some, we’ll trade engineering advice. With others, we’ll just absorb their good energy. The space is truly a hive of activity and it’s uplifting to be here each day.
What’s next for you and your company?
We’ve built a lot of transformative tech. The goal for our tenure at Grand Central Tech is to continue getting it out there, into the hands of creators and brands. Behind the scenes, we’re also developing a lot of trailblazing stuff that we’ll be excited to unveil when the time is right. Keep your eyes peeled.