Philippe Sawaya and Jonathan Mak were college friends at the University of Pennsylvania, where their shared passion for entrepreneurship quickly became apparent. It was during this time that they came up with the idea for Percepta. As the number of news headlines regarding faulty facial recognition technology and racial-profiling increased, Sawaya and Mak saw a need for a new AI surveillance technology. Noticing a gaping hole in retail security technology, Sawaya and Mak imagined a detection system that protects privacy and simultaneously removes bias. They approached their former professor and current Percepta advisor, Dr. Vanessa Chan, about their idea. Dr. Chan introduced Sawaya and Mak to executives at Comcast and Walmart, who validated the business potential, and Percepta was born.
After a few months of customer interviews and product development, they recognized the need for financial skills to plan Percepta’s growth and assess its long-term financial viability. Sawaya and Mak asked around, and were put in touch with Neil Gramopadhye. Having a passion for business, and experience with discrimination back in South Carolina, Neil immediately took to the mission and values of Percepta, and joined after spending time working with and getting to know the team.
Since then, Percepta has grown tremendously with new hires and new ideas. Through accelerator programs, like Techstars, Percepta has gained many influential and helpful mentors. However as Percepta expands, the original values remain. Percepta continues to be committed to applying AI technology in an ethical manner. Percepta’s mission is simple: save retailers’ money, while eliminating potential bias in shoplifting surveillance.