In a world where businesses are constantly seeking ways to streamline their operations and boost productivity, Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design Alumni Lucas Ochoa and Gautam Bose (BDes '19) might have found the answer with their company, Automat. Automat, which just successfully raised $3.75 million, is a tool that makes building automations as easy as describing or demonstrating them.
“Put simply, Automat takes care of repetitive, boring and dull work that prevents businesses from scaling,” said Ochoa. “Automat lets businesses create software automations by simply showing or describing their workflows. Customers send Automat screen capture videos or text descriptions of the processes they’d like to build, we then use AI to process and build the automations that the business can run, which saves them time and money. This allows small and medium businesses, as well as large enterprise companies, to grow without being encumbered by expensive operational costs as they scale.”
Both Ochoa and Bose, got their start after their time at CMU in Google’s Creative Lab, later Ochoa would go on to work at Google X's Everyday Robots project where he realized the potential of using AI techniques from robotics to build automations.
“Despite the differences on the surface between physical robots and software robots, the underlying tech is actually quite similar,” said Ochoa. “Most of my time at Google was spent thinking about how the most novel advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning manifested in both physical and digital products. Since the early days of the GPT models, it became clear that the technology was transformational. We made a point early on to make a big bet on this specific technology, from working on ML accelerated coral chips to voice interfaces on the pixel buds pro and finally in LLM based interfaces for robot instruction.”
While Ochoa was working on these AI enabled experiences into software experiences for hardware products, Bose, who has been Ochoa’s roommate since the School of Design, was working closely with the research teams bringing Large Language Models out of the lab and into the real world. Bose’s focus was on bringing novel experiences to life in Chrome experiments at the Creative Lab at Google, building internal prototypes from games, products and experiments.
Automat recently achieved a significant milestone by securing funding through Initialized Capital, Khosla Ventures, Y-combinator and others. With funding in hand, Automat is actively expanding its customer base and assembling a team of applied AI/ML engineers and operators. They are on the lookout for senior applied AI engineers and are keen onboarding new customers as they continue to scale their operations.
For Ochoa and Bose, their education continues to play a pivotal role in their day-to-day work.
“Early on in First Year studio, Steve Stadelmeier said something along the lines of, ‘one of the most important things you’ll come away from these studio classes and your time at CMU is the relationships with the people in the room here with you,’” said Lucas. “I can confirm that likely due to the countless late nights discussing and bickering in the studio, several dozens of projects exploring highly subjective forms of value, my cofounder Gautam and I work really well together. It’s a working relationship we put a lot of care into. We make a point of routinely checking in to see how each other is doing and address what’s going well and what can be improved.
“Beyond interpersonal relationships – the literal bar of quality at our company is set by the same craft and intuition we learned from drawing Mark Baskinger’s cubes, the appreciation and optimism for technology as a source of good directly comes from Austin Lee’s and Dan Lockton’s encouragement and environments studios, a healthy does of criticality and was tuned by Cameron Tonkenwise’s and Charlee Brodsky’s wildly impactful placing lectures,” continued Ochoa, while also highlighting the foundation for their technical abilities was set by the rigorous and high-quality classes at the School of Computer Science at CMU.
So how do they describe their time at the School of Design?
“Create lifelong friendships while working on fascinating projects at a really good desk in an inspiring well-lit studio,” said Ochoa. “Do those things while forming deep connections with faculty that uniquely care about the personhood of their pupils at arguably the best research university that’s pushing the boundaries of technology and human computer interactivity.”