By: Elizabeth Savin '25
On Wednesday, May 10th, Residents of The Garage gathered together at Family Dinner to hear from Akshat Thirani. Akshat graduated from Northwestern in 2016 with a degree in Computer Science. Now, he is the founder and CEO of Amper: a production-monitoring system that helps manufacturers improve their factory processes.
Throughout his presentation, Akshat shared a variety of valuable learnings and pieces of advice with the Residents. Akshat started working on Amper at The Garage in his senior year, although it was initially a completely different idea. Originally, it was a home energy monitoring device inspired by his interest in renewable energy. He started by building sensors for smart circuit breakers, later on entering a hackathon and receiving a $1,000 grant to continue developing his idea. This initial proof of concept inspired him to give up his summer internship to work on Amper full time.
Eventually, Akshat had the opportunity to speak with investors at Y Combinator where he pitched his smart circuit breaker idea. During the ten minute meeting, they poked so many holes in his concept that he began reconsidering his path. He spent the summer having a series of conversations that invalidated his business and learning of the multiple safety, financial and logistical barriers he was facing.
At the same time, Amper was being accepted into the HAX Hardware Accelerator in Shenzhen, receiving a $100,000 investment in the process. When it came time for Akshat to head overseas, he was almost certain he would need to abandon his original idea. He decided to allow himself to explore Shenzhen and pursue a variety of ideas by being immersed in a hardware startup accelerator,. However, the ultimate inspiration for his new direction came during a trip home to India.
Akshat’s parents own and run a manufacturing plant, but he had never seen the factory through the eyes of an entrepreneur. He saw the challenges of using antiquated systems - like pen and and paper, whiteboards, legacy ERPs and Excel - to track when machines went down or needed maintenance. After visiting a few more factories and observing the same trends in their production-monitoring systems, Akshat was on a mission to help bring manufacturing into the technological age. He returned to Shenzhen and immediately began working on prototypes for his new idea.
From there, Akshat moved to San Francisco where he entered another accelerator program - this time focused on sales and fundraising instead of the technological aspects of his business. Although he was hyper-paranoid after his first endeavor failed, he pushed full steam ahead. His confidence in his product ultimately produced 10 customers which led Akshat to kick off a seed round, raising $1.5 million dollars pre-revenue. To-date, Amper has raised over $10 million-dollars, is now in operation with 40 employees, and is continuing to grow!
To wrap up his presentation, Akshat shared 6 six key lessons he wishes he could’ve told himself during his senior year:
Residents left Family Dinner inspired to incorporate these learnings into their day to day startup operations!
Elizabeth Savin ’25 is a Manufacturing and Design Engineering major from Wilmette, IL. She is a student aide at The Garage and was part of the Winter 2022 Propel cohort. She is excited to begin her own venture while learning more about entrepreneurship.