Community Catch Up: Dr Amir Hadad

People regularly ask about the kind of people we have working from out space. We’ll be releasing these Community Catch Ups each week and let our community of entrepreneurs introduce themselves in their own words. First up, we’ll say hi to Dr Amir Hadad, founder of Pictionist.

For how long have you been coding?

I’ve been programming for over 10 years now. This has been in a commercial as well as academic context. I’ve been involved in building four different software products, the most recent being my startup Pictionist. I completed my Bachelors of Engineering and Masters of Artificial Intelligence at Tehran Polytechnic, and received my PhD from the ANU in Computer Science (focusing on predictive modelling). My technical interests are machine learning, predictive data modelling, building software products, web application automated build and deployment processes, version control strategies and continuous integration.

What is it that attracted you to startups?

It’s very adventurous and you have to learn many different areas. In a large organisation everyone has dedicated roles and tasks with a limited scope. In a startup you learn a lot more than you otherwise would.

What are you working on now?     

I’m building a solution for organisations with large image repositories. It’s a CMS for images. It’s called Pictionist.

When did you begin working on Pictionist?

I started the initial work on this over 3 years ago. It was originally a desktop application.  Since then I’ve received an Innovation Connect grant from the ACT Government and created a prototype version of the cloud-based image repository management system.

How is Pictionist different?

It enables organisations and businesses with large image repositories to import and search their images. They can use image-based search as well as ordinary text search to extract relevant information in image and metadata formats. This is an improvement on current solutions, as similar CMS are restricted to text-based search only.

What’s something that you didn’t expect before starting?

The opportunity to present my prototype to larger organisations is easier than I expected. At the same time, moving things further along the sales process with a prototype can be difficult.

Were you originally working from home? Has coworking helped?

I was originally working on this from home. Coworking has been a big help. I’ve met so many interesting people. The majority of people share an adventurous and positive nature, and are keen on new ideas. Being able to share with people has been a rewarding and motivating factor in my work. Sometimes I need to remind myself that I need to do some real work!

How do you rate Canberra as a place to build a startup?

Government support has been reasonable and satisfying. I think investors are a little conventional and that’s something to improve in Canberra. It’s a quiet place, and if you want to actually get things done it’s a very good place to do that. I suspect in bigger cities it’s harder to focus, especially for something like a tech startup where you wear all the hats.

Amir is hosting a catered ‘Tech Talks’ event on Wednesday 25 February at Entry 29. Join us for some pizza and the opportunity to discuss issues and approaches to software development. This month’s topic is Version Control. You can register for your place here.

Amir Hadad