One of the most important parts of beginning a company is having a strong team with great backgrounds. Meet the team is the beginning of our series to give a proper introduction to the folks behind the curtain making things happen.
Today, we’ll introduce you to Ben Howard. He is a Co-Founder and the CTO of KinectAir.
As soon as Ben could talk, he was quite inquisitive about the world; constantly asking his parents why, and never satisfied with the answer he heard back. His father wrote software for various companies around Portland, OR and exposed Ben to code early on. The first coding Ben can recall was with his Lego Mindstorm kit. His dad, being a computer geek himself, modified the toy to allow complex coding. By middle school, it was clear Ben had found his passion, working on various coding projects in his free time. As soon as high school began, Ben signed up for various coding classes to formalize his passion into the professional field. Ben attended The Oregon Institute of Technology, where his eyebrow raising senior project landed him a job at Intel. His software, ahead of its time, was capable of analyzing a photograph and identifying what photoshop tools were used to modify it.
While Ben has made a name for himself in the computer science world, he’s also had a strong passion for entrepreneurship that has been reflected in parallel to his computer based upbringing. His father’s contracting work, largely done at home, exposed Ben to a unique blend of technical computer work alongside business expertise that made him successful hanging his own shingle in an emerging market. Ben’s father was constantly bringing home new gadgets like a brand new Macintosh as well as some of the earliest MP3 player models.
Ben’s first entrepreneurial endeavor of his own involved engineering and building 3 wheel sailboat cars as pictured above and driving them on salt flats. The project was able to bring enough cash in to support himself and his friends adrenaline pounding hobby, racing each other in the vast plains.
After learning all he could at Intel, he left to found his first real company. Pioneering a brand new industry, Ben and a team Co-founded Honeycomb, a drone AI software company to help farmers keep track of their crops from the air. This was one of the first real world use cases for drones, and showed the world what was truly possible at a time when the public had concerns with the technologies potentially negative impacts on society. While Honeycomb had succeeded in what it set out to do – automatically fly, stitch, and analyze crop fields it became clear that a database element would be hugely important in making the product usable for real farmers.
This led to Ben joining Resson as their Chief Technical Officer. Resson was an intellectual leapfrog ahead of Honeycomb, as they had indexed and identified many different crop patterns into a database, which allowed them to provide actual solutions that farmers could put into practice. Much of the data provided previously from Honeycomb was valuable, but didn’t translate well into the mind of a farmer who was unfamiliar with the technology.
From there, Ben transitioned to KinectAir as his next project, once again taking the seat of CTO. Ben has had an interest in flying since he was a kid, which involved all sorts of paper airplanes, and eventually more complex flight toys such as R/C airplanes, where he modified their systems to run autopilot – similar to how drones operate today.
Ben is excited to bring his trio of skills and interests into one project, where his technical vernacular will keep KinectAir relevant in a quickly progressing industry, as well as acute business sense to keep the team out of the weeds, and focused on big picture goals.
– Eli Ackerman