Originally from Texas, I grew up and went to college in Florida. I was born in 1984, the year Apple released the Macintosh and computers officially became “fun.” More importantly, this was the year that marked a drastic shift in the attitude towards the cultural adaption of technology.
Those who were born post ‘84 are known as “Millennials” and are “digital natives” who don’t remember a time without personal computers or the World Wide Web. They grew up in the digital world with online connectivity being an integral part of their lives. The future of technological innovation will be shaped and defined by this generation.
My story really began in college when I first took on a role as research assistant at the University of Central Florida (UCF) computer graphics research group. On the first week of the job, I was asked by my boss to come up with a research question that was both unique and difficult to solve. I knew I needed to come up with a topic that would justify my hourly student wage. I’ve always had an interest in Artificial Intelligence and a passion for art. So, I wanted to see a computer that could create art the way a human does. I didn’t realise at the time that I was choosing my life’s work.
After finishing my bachelor’s in Comp. Sci. I was accepted to the Masters program at Columbia University, where I had the pleasure of working with Prof. Eitan Grinspun on several projects that resulted in two high impact publications. It was around the same time that the Graphics, Vision and Visualization (GV2) group at Trinity had posted a PhD candidate position that was closely tailored to my specialty. Moving to Ireland and starting at Trinity seemed like the next logical step.
Fast forward to 2013, having completing my doctorate at Trinity I found myself at a crossroads. I knew my research had the potential to completely transform the video game and movie industry by revolutionising the way we create art and design. However, starting a company was a daunting task, but I didn’t want to just sit back and watch my ideas fade away. I knew my research could make people’s lives better and inspire a new trend in Artificial Intelligence. More importantly, I didn’t want to regret not having pursued my passion in 40 years time. That is why I felt compelled to start a company.
Once I was determined to build a company, doors started opening very quickly. First strike of luck was when Trinity announced a call for participation in the inaugural Launchbox, a student business accelerator programme. The programme provided Artomatix with a €10k grant, office space for three months and mentorship from experienced and successful entrepreneurs. Shortly after, Enterprise Ireland made an open call for their New Frontiers program, which has to date given Artomatix incredible mentorship/connections and a €15k grant to help build the business. NDRC, a private investment organization has also been massively helpful by introducing me to my co-founder and business partner, Neal O’Gorman. Artomatix recently secured a round of seed funding, released a beta of the first product, and have customers in the pipeline. Currently, we’re looking for new hires to help grow the company and have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Trinity’s new crowdfunding platform.
I believe I’m in the right place at the right time. It is truly a unique and exciting time to be an entrepreneur in Ireland.
-Dr. Eric Risser