Helping entrepreneurs achieve the American dream
Sep 18, 2019
For people around the world, and not just Americans, the American dream has long held the promise that “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” That’s how historian James Truslow Adams defined the American dream back in 1931, during the depths of the Great Depression.
The dream’s implied faith in the benefit of hard work and self-reliance has encouraged generations of entrepreneurs to innovate, create new businesses, generate significant employment and new sources of value.
My own story would not have been possible without the American dream. In the early 1990s, I came to the U.S. to attend Carnegie Mellon. Shortly after graduating, I co-founded Cognizant, now a Fortune 200, global IT services company that was my professional life’s work for a quarter century.
Over the past few months, as a way to pay it forward, I've agreed to work with a small group of startup companies to help them realize their own version of the American Dream. I picked these startups because each of them is riding a big thematic wave and consequently, each has the opportunity to make a significant positive impact to the world!
Theme 1: Using artificial intelligence to improve lives.
Giving millions of people around the globe lack access to credit: Credit availability hasn’t significantly increased despite advances in technology and the availability of rich consumer data. In the US alone, over 70 million people are credit underserved and this number is close to 2.3 billion in the rest of the world.
Scienaptic is using AI driven underwriting to provide credit to the credit underserved population. Their platform is enabling financial institutions to attract prospects and to profitably underwrite consumers that were previously off the map. Last year alone, they helped financial institutions evaluate 43 million consumers and offer credit to over 15 Million.
Keeping drivers safe: After over forty years of declines in vehicle accident deaths in the US, the trend reversed in 2014. Today, about 40,000 people lose their lives each year in vehicle crashes. The team at dreyev are using computer vision, machine learning, behavioral AI and real-time analytics to address the problem. The dreyev system in the cockpit of a car or truck keeps one ‘eye’ on the driver and the other on the road. The system is able to detect distracted and drowsy drivers and warn the driver with urgency- and severity-triggered alerts, well ahead of impending danger, in order to prevent crashes in the first place.
Theme 2 : Connecting workers to opportunities that represent the best use of their abilities
Making neurodiversity a source of competitive advantage : Ultranauts provides software and data quality engineering services, powered by an exceptional neurodiverse team that rapidly ingests domain knowledge and consistently delvers superior results. Ultranauts has built the world’s first fully remote workplace for neurodiverse talent, with team mates working in 20 states across the U.S., 75% of whom are on the autism spectrum. To do so, they have reimagined how a company recruits, manages and develops talent, pioneering new business practices and tools to harness the strengths of their diverse team.
Theme 3 : Re-inventing education using modern technologies
A new approach to teaching STEM in the classroom: According to the U.S. department of labor, 65% of today’s primary students will work in future jobs that don’t exist yet. They will need more advanced STEM skills just to keep up and today’s emerging technologies will be a part of everyday work. The traditional classroom is unprepared for this massive challenge. To leverage the proven benefits of experiential learning, the team at Vroggo has created a unique VR platform that immerses students in collaborative virtual worlds optimized for learning where teachers can “see” and shape the experience.
Much of the context in which the American dream is realized has been transformed as we move deeply into the fourth industrial revolution. Powered by smart, connected machines that seem to think, technological, economic, and social transformation are changing the basis of competition and the nature of work. The degree and rate of external change requires us to rethink what it takes to realize the dream. In important ways, Scienaptic, dreyev, Vroggo and Ultranauts are doing their bit to advance the American Dream and to make the world a little better. I’m looking forward to working with them and watching them thrive in the years ahead.