An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Dr. Michael Capps (co-founder and CEO) of Diveplane, which was honored in our:
- 2023 Best Tech Startups in Raleigh
- 2022 Best Tech Startups in Raleigh
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Raleigh
Tell us the origin story of Diveplane – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Christopher Hazard and Mike Resnick, my co-founders, had been working for years on explainable machine learning, largely within the games and simulation communities. I’d retired from Epic Games to have kids, and was ready to tackle what I perceive as one of the world’s biggest challenges – the misuse of black box AI in safety-critical and human-critical decision making. We decided to join forces, and here we are!
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
I’d give very different answers than the tech team about that, I bet! Sort of the usual things, mainly balancing work-life demands. Our founding team is older, but we’ve all got young kids that need attention. And building excitement is tough in the very loud, constantly evolving market of AI.
What does the future hold for Diveplane?
We really do think we’ve taken the right approach to explainable AI. Now the trick is to get it into everyone’s hands, because it doesn’t do the world much good hidden behind our firewalls. Our software is installed at some of the greatest financial, healthcare, and defense organizations in the world ,and the next step is to get it to every developer we can.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Raleigh?
The scene is thriving and has such potential for growth. There’s a strong community of tech professionals, it’s a great place to live, you name it. Our geography is a blessing and a curse, though – while we occasionally have triangle-wide events, we really have multiple smaller startup ecosystems in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’m a terrible person to ask, as I think I’ve done almost all of it backwards or wrong. I’d say I’m lucky to work on a problem I’m passionate about, with people I find exciting to work with. I wish I’d followed the standard advice of spending lots of time listening to customers in the early phase. We raised money quickly, were sure we were building the right thing, and honestly didn’t spend enough time contacting potential customers. That would have saved us a lot of effort by building it in a form most accessible to them.