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David

David Valverde

Animating the inanimate – converting car windows into high-definition displays.

Company: Pranos.ai

Role: Founder, CEO

What inspired you to build this technology, specifically?

We have this vision of a decentralized plane of communication that people can use to express themselves. We’re reimagining the car as something that can reflect personality, soul. We are animating the inanimate – allowing cars to communicate with their surroundings.

What did you learn in your previous endeavor (your first startup)?

I sort of saw everything that could go wrong first hand with my first company so it was eye-opening. I learned to move at a much more measured pace, be more frugal and deliberate.

I also realized that the founders I admire most talk less and do more; I don’t want to be someone who talks about how their company is about to skyrocket – I want the product’s success to speak for itself. I think I was a bit cocky in my first startup so I’ve approached Pranos AI with much more humility and realism.

How do you feel you've grown in building this company?

As a person, I’ve done a lot of introspection in building Pranos AI. I’ve definitely had to get rid of my ego in multiple scenarios.

As a founder, I’ve learned to build a really solid team – they’re the foundation of any company. I’ve become much better at growing and leading a talented, committed team.

How do you feel that you and your co-founders complement each other?

I was strategic about bringing on co-founders that I felt offset my weaknesses – primarily my age. I am only 26 and know that I lack those decades of experience which might unsettle people externally. So I intentionally recruited co-founders who were older than myself and extremely seasoned. This has created more of an advisor/advisee relationship between us and it’s been incredibly useful for me to learn from them.

With everyone we hire, actually, I’m very deliberate about bringing on people who I feel are more knowledgeable and experienced in their niche than I am. To me, surrounding yourself with experts who push you to learn and grow is the surest way to create more value and grow as a company, as well.

What’s been the most exciting milestone you’ve hit as a team?

Getting our patents approved was really exciting!

We’ve also recruited a few engineers lately and it’s been humbling to see that people are really eager to be a part of our team.

Is there a specific source of inspiration that keeps you pushing through tougher moments?

I could’ve given up many times over the years. But it’s impossible to give up when we get so much support from everyone we talk to. Across the world, everyone we’ve shown what we’re working on gets excited, saying they can’t wait for the product to be everywhere in their city.

It feels like a responsibility to see this through, to push through for all the people who believe in our vision.

What was YC like?

The mentorship and advice was very useful but the main value prop for (our previous venture) was the YC prestige. The press attention we were able to secure after Demo Day propelled our company to the next level. It was a level of virality I’d never experienced.

That is one of the reasons we brought on William Stanislaus (YC S18 Alum) to the Pranos founding team as our CTO; he has a ton of experience in building products that scale.

What’s a song or album that’s gotten you through 2020?

Avicii, True (2013).

Favorite emoji or gif?

The thumbs up! 👍🏼