Former Googler, Poker Player, and AI Engineer is Overlooked Ventures #4 Investment
Former Googler and then-23-year-old Megan Gray was on her way home from a software engineer conference when she boarded a plane that would change her life forever.
During her flight, Megan Gray all of a sudden felt like she was getting hit in the back of the head numerous times. The flight attendant moved her to the back of the plane and that’s the last thing she remembers before waking up in a hospital. The doctors told her she had 10 seizures, which was a surprise to her as she had never had even one before. Megan was also informed that she would never drive again by the doctors. She responded with “I WILL DRIVE AGAIN.”
After this life-changing event, Megan invented a device that hooked up to her steering wheel and monitored her brain and heart for signs of potential seizure. She then developed an app that would alert her when she was about to have a seizure by using facial recognition technology. She knew that other people with preexisting disorders or individuals who get drowsy behind the wheel could use this technology too so she was ready to build. But Megan needed funding to get her idea off the ground and didn’t know where to start. So she took herself to Atlantic City with $1,000 and the skills her late father taught her in her pocket. Megan bet on herself and ended up winning enough to get started on her business. That’s when moment.ai was born.
Moment.ai is changing the driver’s experience with innovative technology that analyzes multiple facial biometrics to detect for every driver, every moment. The software seamlessly integrates with any camera to identify health risks for driving such as diabetes, heart disorders, neurological disorders, and sleeping disorders. Using Alexa, moment.ai’s software can guide the driver’s vehicle off the road or to a business for the driver’s safety when it detects medium and high alerts.
Moment.ai is the intersection of three markets:
Mobility Tech; and
Autonomous Vehicle Tech
Mobility Tech is one of the fastest-growing industries setting a record of $23.4 billion invested in Q1 2021 alone (source: PitchBook). Over the last decade, more than $200 Billion has been invested in mobility technology around the globe. When we think of mobility tech, autonomous vehicles are one of the first, if not the only, things that come to mind. Food delivery startups, flying taxis, e-scooters. We’ve seen a lot of innovation in this space in the past several years. But the industry involves much more than just self-driving cars.
A large percentage of mobility technology focuses on the vehicles we use every day. In most cities around the world, especially in the United States, individuals opt for motor vehicles for transportation. In fact, the most recent available data states that 222 million people have a driver’s license in the United States, many of which have a car of their own. On average, Americans spend over eight hours driving each week. It’s clear that we spend a lot of time in our cars.
While operating a motor vehicle is a very common task, it involves a lot of room for human error such as falling asleep behind the wheel. And for certain population groups who have preexisting disorders and the aging population, there’s even a possibility of experiencing health risks. Common conditions that can affect or rule out someone from driving altogether, include diabetes, heart, neurological, and sleeping disorders. These disorders leave individuals who have them unable to operate vehicles safely and/or at all. But with deep tech, there is a way to reverse this commonality and give people with health risks the freedom to drive on their own.
Deep tech “refers to those startups whose business model is based on high tech innovation in engineering, or significant scientific advances.” Scientists and engineers have developed AI algorithms to identify upcoming seizures, drowsiness, strokes, cardiac arrest, and more by analyzing an individual’s facial expressions and behaviors. By combining this technology with the mobility industry, it’s possible for people with health risks to drive a car.
In the past, facial recognition has done a poor job of recognizing people of diverse backgrounds with darker complexions. This historical inadequacy is due to a lack of data sets to analyze. Algorithmic bias is a problem, however, over recent years, many experts such as Joy Buolamwini and Timnit Gebru have devoted their careers to this work. In fact, Joy’s TED Featured Talk on algorithmic bias has over 1 million views and was the basis of the recent documentary Coded Bias, now on Netflix. The social justice system is already riddled with racial injustice. Gender and racial bias algorithms are emphasizing this. Change has to be made in deep tech, and more specifically AI & autonomous vehicles. We have to make sure the people CREATING the tech are the people who have been historically excluded to remove barriers of racial injustice.
Overlooked Ventures is excited about the intersection of deep tech, mobility tech, and autonomous vehicles tech but even more excited about Megan, the founder of moment.ai. As a Black African-American founder with a disability, she is an inspiration to so many people and if you take a look at most of the companies in this industry, you won’t see anyone like her. Representation matters.
Megan always knew that she wanted to make a difference in science and engineering, but just needed the right problem to solve. Motivated and excited by the hustle of being a startup founder, Megan previously designed innovation for electric vehicles and knew it was doable to build AI for autonomous vehicles, so she did it. Prior to starting moment.ai, Megan worked at Google as an engineer, she had multiple IT, product, and engineering jobs, and was even a full-time poker player six months before launching moment.ai.
As soon as we talked to Megan, we were immediately blown away. But we’re not the only ones amazed by her. Softbank, Jason Calacanis, and William Eisenman, the former Head of Engineering and one of the first investors at Netflix, believe in her and her technology too.
When asked about how she learned of Overlooked Ventures, Megan said,
“When Overlooked Ventures began their fund, I saw their announcement retweeted among several of my friends. However, I wanted to get to learn more about their fund and them personally. I stalked their Twitter accounts for about two months and then decided these are people I can build a company with or watch a college football game with. For me, I want more than just a check — I want mentors, advisors, and companions on this journey.”
On behalf of myself and the entire Overlooked Ventures team, we are so excited to be companions on this journey with Megan and moment.ai.