Ethan Braun (left) and Gabriel Kauffman (center) led GobTech to victory in the OSU Next Great Startup competition on March 9.

RAIN Corvallis Success Story: GobTech Wins Next Great Startup

GobTech, an artificial intelligence technology company comprised of Oregon State University undergraduate students, completed the RAIN Corvallis/OSU Advantage Fall 2016 Iterate program. This winter, they won the inaugural OSU Next Great Startup competition. GobTech’s next step is to hit key revenue benchmarks through in-app purchases.

Story of Success:

Just last summer, founder Gabriel Kauffman was using his free time to code neural networks. Driven by his own curiosity, he implemented these neural networks in a cellular world program he made. This program became the basis for GobTech’s game app, which lets users create and customize their own neural networks to control cells in the environment Kauffman had developed.

Although Kauffman never intended to turn his passion-hobby into a business, he may have stumbled into an undeniable opportunity: Neural networks are beating out every other type of artificial intelligence in providing the technology for self-driving cars, text translation, facial recognition, and just about every other field. GobTech has already seen more than 20,000 downloads of its Android application, and their market share will only grow after they launch the iOS version, which they expect to launch within the next month. Their larger business plan is to license this software to other game developers.

Experience with the OSU Advantage Accelerator/RAIN Corvallis

Kauffman and his first team member, Ethan Braun, started Iterate with a few random ideas completely unrelated to Kauffman’s game. Although they failed to develop a strong business plan during their time in the program, the pieces started falling into place after they entered the Next Great Startup competition using Kauffman’s original game concept.

“The Next Great Startup forced us to focus on the business because that’s what the judges really wanted to know about. Early on, I was way too focused on the technology,” Kauffman explained.

As a result of this newfound focus, and the suggestion from mentors that they license the software to game developers, GobTech won the Next Great Startup on March 9.

What’s Next?

Not unexpectedly, Kauffman and his team members have been offered promising, paid-internships at well-known companies. Whether or not they accept these opportunities and put GobTech on hold, is somewhat dependent on if they can hit key revenue goals — because college students still have to eat and pay rents.

No matter what happens this summer though, GobTech has a standing invitation to join the OSU Advantage Accelerate program.