This week, the A. Richard Newton Lecture Series welcomed Jason Creadore, cofounder of Civil Maps. The entrepreneur shared his insights, telling the student audience about his startup journey, and transition from finance to tech.
Early Work and Education
Creadore graduated from Lehigh University in 2010, and shortly thereafter went on to work for JP Morgan and the New York Stock Exchange. He went on to study entrepreneurship at both Stanford and UC Berkeley, starting his involvement with the tech industry.
Creadore’s latest and most successful endeavor is Civil Maps, a cognition company which uses artificial intelligence to help vehicles make sense of their environment and drive autonomously. By using augmented reality, Civil Maps superimposes environmental features onto maps, helping the AI technologies process raw sensor data very rapidly, a big leap from regular cars.
Civil Maps was not always an autonomous cars company, however. Creadore admitted that he initially started a few years ago with the hopes of making autonomous trains, not cars, but this was too ahead of its time.
The company was founded here in Berkeley, and funded by the SkyDeck startup accelerator. In 2012, Creadore was only working with the startup part-time, but after a series of periodic successes, including winning the business of Indian Railways and being invited to a televised tech competition, he joined full time in 2014. In June of 2015, Creadore and his team gained early funding from founder.org, and quickly secured another $2.5 million after.
“The first check is the hardest to attain,” said Creadore.
The company’s greatest success came in 2016, when Creadore and his partners won the business of Ford and secured another $4 million in investments from various companies. They’ve since been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times. Creadore sees the future of his autonomous cars as using the cloud to share information with other cars and establish a visual line of sight—a feature which will eventually come built into vehicles. As a final note, Creadore shared that many companies have accelerated their timelines and become more involved with the autonomous driving venture, revealing the importance and relevance of this innovation.
Creadore’s Advice for Entrepreneurs
Creadore had specific bits of counsel for students considering startups. He first defined a startup as a business or entity that’s trying to find a model, and still working and modifying its strategy. He advised:
- When deciding whether to join or create a startup, decide if you are:
- Financially secure
- Willing to learn
- Inclined to take risks
- When seeking out a partner:
- Find someone you work well with.
- (Creadore’s cofounders were his friends, first and foremost)
- Share a common work ethic
- Understand the culture and business you are commonly embarking in.
- When to end a startup:
- Be honest with yourself: a failed startup is not necessarily a failed idea.
- Be able to learn quickly and advance your ideas.
- Have realistic exit criteria.