Tigran Petrosyan (left) and Vahan Petrosyan (right) are the two brothers behind computer vision ... [+] COURTESY OF SUPERANNOTATE.
For some, the thought of computers gaining the ability to see and make decisions may induce Black Mirror-style nightmares. But for technologists like Tigran and Vahan Petrosyan, brothers from Armenia, it’s the stuff of PhDs. While one brother was working in Switzerland and the other in Sweden, they realized they had the same pain point — the laborious process of capturing and labeling the data necessary to train machines to use computer vision. Then, a breakthrough: Vahan devised an algorithm that makes it possible to automate parts of the process and speed it up ten times and the brothers knew they were on to something.
“We also help companies manage those datasets, because the quality usually suffers when you are doing this at scale.”
After dropping out of their respective programs, the Petrosyans launched software business SuperAnnotate last year to share the tech with others.“It allows us to create larger datasets,” Tigran, now the startup’s CEO, says. “We also help companies manage those datasets, because the quality usually suffers when you are doing this at scale.” SuperAnnotate covers a substantial part of a computer vision project’s life cycle, Tigran adds, helping companies compile, organize and annotate their data. Thousands of people are using the tools today, SuperAnnotate claims, with revenue recently tripling quarter to quarter.
The SaaS startup raised a $14.5 million Series A round led by Base10 Partners with participation from existing investors Point Nine Capital, Runa Capital and Fathom Capital, among others, as originally reported in Midas Touch newsletter. TJ Nahigian, a cofounder and managing partner at Base10 Partners, says his team met SuperAnnotate at its beginnings, when Nahigian judged a pitch competition in Armenia that the brothers won. Base10 was looking to start investing in computer vision and when they realized that many of the startups they talked to were already using SuperAnnotate, the choice became clear. “This is a trend we have been excited about for a long time and it wasn’t until recently that it became technically possible because of companies like SuperAnnotate,” Nahigian says. “As we look at so many different real economy industries, we see massive, massive potential.”
Tigran Petrosyan tells Forbes that the team hopes to use the capital to raise his startup’s profile through marketing. Nahigian adds that they hope the team can boost its customer base by 10x to 20x over the next 12 months. Petrosyan also wants to expand the company’s U.S.-based team and continue building the product both through increasing the automation capabilities and by adding and bolstering different verticals on the platform that are still early on adoption of computer vision like aerial and medical imaging.
“We want to be that core infrastructure.”
According to Petrosyan, one of the startup’s main goals is to make computer vision accessible to non-technical people. “Everyone with a computer and a smart camera can set up their system anywhere they want and have the right infrastructure to build that,” he says. “We want to be that core infrastructure.” SuperAnnotate’s platform also includes a marketplace of industry and sector experts, trained in its tools, for companies to browse and hire to help them with projects, further making the platform available to those not immersed in the field.
The market size for computer vision was estimated to be $10.6 billion in 2019 according to Grand View Research, and projected to grow more than 7% each year through 2027. At Base10, Nahigian argues computer vision will become a key layer of business infrastructure in 10 years, akin to Amazon Web Services or Stripe. “Everyday we can’t stop being fascinated about the new applications we are seeing,” Petrosyan agrees. “We see someone using it to track cows in the farm and build a robot to milk the cows. From security to autonomous vehicles, basically every industry is eventually going to use computer vision.”