About

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Avata: Harness the Power of AI

Avata Intelligence launched in 2013 to lead the industry in artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics, supporting world organizations with integrated data-driven solutions. Founded (originally as Armorway) by entrepreneur Zaré Baghdasarian and AI experts Manish Jain, James Pita, Ripple Goyal, and Milind Tambe, Avata’s AI-as-Service solution solves complex, analytical questions.

Together, the team has combined machine-learning, natural language processing, game theory, and other AI capabilities with data integration and processing to innovate how AI can be applied in the world. Make better decisions, find new opportunities, and gain insights with the exact data intelligence you need.

Meet Our Team

ZARÉ BAGHDASARIAN

ZARÉ BAGHDASARIAN

CEO & CO-FOUNDER

Biography

Zaré Baghdasarian has more than 25 years of business experience as a technologist, entrepreneur, and executive manager. He has an expansive education background starting with an Executive MBA from TRIUM, an executive MBA degree jointly delivered by New York University (NYU), the London School of Economics (LSE) and HEC School of Management Paris, a Masters degree in Engineering Management from Santa Clara University, an Executive Management degree from UCLA Anderson School of Management, and a BSEE from Villanova University.

Most valuable, however, is his real-world business experience:

  • Co-Founder of two engineering technology companies, Monterey Networks (sold to Cisco Systems) and IRIS Group
  • Director of a non-profit organization supporting entrepreneurs to help them build their businesses
  • Former CEO for 15Desks.com (A startup software company that provided software systems for education and students to enable them to create an electronic personal portfolio record for their career management)
  • VP of Engineering for Sourcecom in Agoura Hills, California; General Manager for Signaling Group, Ameritec in Covina, California
MANISH JAIN

MANISH JAIN

CTO & CO-FOUNDER

Biography

Manish Jain is a world-recognized leader in game-theoretic studies, specifically focusing on large-scale optimization in competitive and adversarial settings. He earned a PhD from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Southern California in 2013 where he was a member of the TEAMCORE Research group. Manish has also published numerous papers on the subject of game-theoretic optimization that have been published in a number of well recognized journals.

A few of his notable accomplishments include:

  • Awarded the RIST Prize by the Military Operations Research Society for his work titled “Software Assistants for Patrol Planning at LAX, Federal Air Marshals Service, and Transportation Security Administration”
  • Nominated as a finalist for the EURO Excellence in Practice award
  • Won the Distinguished Dissertation Award given by International Foundation on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (2013) as well as the Best Dissertation Award given by CS Department at Univ. of Southern California (2013)
  • His work has been deployed by the DHS, including deployed software tools for the Federal Air Marshals Service and Los Angeles World Airports police
JAMES PITA

JAMES PITA

CTIO & CO-FOUNDER

Biography

Dr. James Pita is a former adjunct Operations Research Associate at RAND Corporation specializing in military and cyber applications. He received his PhD from the University of Southern California under the advisement of Dr. Milind Tambe. Dr. Pita’s passion and research focuses on the application of game-theoretic techniques to aid in resource allocation decisions in competitive environments.

  • Received a commendation from the City of Los Angeles for the development and deployment of two real-world applications that utilize game-theoretic techniques for resource allocation decisions.
  • Won a number of best paper nominations and awards at Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS), a Student Merit Award at the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) annual meeting, the RIST Prize by the Military Operations Research Society
RIPPLE GOYAL

RIPPLE GOYAL

DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT DESIGN & CO-FOUNDER

Biography

Ripple Goyal received her MS degree from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Southern California in 2013 and Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from University of Mumbai in India. She was a Research Assistant in the Natural Language group at Information Sciences group (ISI), USC; as well as a Research Engineer at IIT Bombay, India. Ripple has also published research papers at leading workshops and conferences.

Ripple’s expertise has led to significant real-world applications:

  • Led the development on ARMOR v2.0, deployed at the Los Angeles International Airport since September of 2012
  • Over 5 years of experience in building AI systems and is proficient in several programming languages and front-end frameworks including Java, Python, and JavaScript.
MILIND TAMBE

MILIND TAMBE

CHIEF OF RESEARCH & CO-FOUNDER

Biography

Milind Tambe is a Professor in Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). The “security games” algorithms pioneered by his Teamcore research group have been deployed for real-world use by several security agencies including the US Coast Guard, the US Federal Air Marshals service, LAX Police and the LA Sheriff’s Department.

Professor Tambe and his research group’s papers have been selected as best papers at a dozen premier Artificial Intelligence Conferences and a number of awards, including:

  • Recipient of the “influential paper award” from the International Foundation for Agents and Multiagent Systems
  • Awarded the RIST Prize of the Military Operations Research Society
  • US Coast Guard First District’s Operational Excellence Award
  • Certificate of Appreciation from the US Federal Air Marshals Service

Our Advisors

VINCENT CONITZER

VINCENT CONITZER

 ADVISOR

Biography

Vincent Conitzer is the Kimberly J. Jenkins University Professor of New Technologies and Professor of Computer Science, Professor of Economics, and Professor of Philosophy at Duke University.

He received his Ph.D. (2006) and M.S. (2003) in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, and an A.B. (2001) in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University. Most of his research is on artificial intelligence (especially multiagent systems) and economic theory (especially game theory, social choice, and mechanism design).

  • Received the Social Choice and Welfare Prize (2014), Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the IJCAI Computers and Thought Award, an NSF CAREER award, the inaugural Victor Lesser dissertation award, an honorable mention for the ACM dissertation award, and several awards for papers and service at the AAAI and AAMAS conferences
  • Named a Guggenheim Fellow, Kavli Fellow, Bass Fellow, Sloan Fellow, and one of AI’s Ten to Watch
  • Along with Preston McAfee, co-founding Editors-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Economics and Computation (TEAC)
MANUELA VELOSO

MANUELA VELOSO

 ADVISOR

Biography

Manuela Veloso is the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

She received her Ph.D. (1992) in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, her M.A. (1986) in Computer Science from Boston University, and her M.S. (1984) and Licenciatura (1980) in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Instituto Superior Tecnico in Lisbon, Portugal.  Manuela’s research focuses on the continuous integration of reactive, deliberative planning, and control learning for teams of multiple agents acting in adversarial, dynamic, and uncertain environments.

  • Since 2009, she has been investigating indoor mobile, service, companion robots, CoBots, such that robots and humans interact in a symbiotic relationship building upon individual strengths and limitations
  • Created and directs her CORAL overarching research lab for the research on intelligent agents that Collaborate, Observe, Reason, Act, and Learn
ASHISH SONI

ASHISH SONI

 ADVISOR

Biography

Ashish Soni is an Associate Professor of Practice at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and an Entrepreneur in Residence at the USC Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business.

He is the Founding Director of the Viterbi Startup Garage and the Viterbi Students Institute for Innovation(VSi2).  Ashish launched the USC Viterbi Startup Garage – the only technology venture incubator at a top engineering school – in collaboration with top VC firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, and Byers.  Companies incubated in the Garage have raised over $14M in investment capital and target a wide spectrum of innovation including drones, 3d printing, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Consumer Web, and Enterprise Software.

  • MS in Computer Science from the University of Southern California
  • Chosen to be on the Socaltech Top 50 list of innovators in 2014
  • Selected to the TechWeekLA Top 100 Innovator lists in 2013 and 2014
  • Serves on the Los Angeles Mayor’s Council of Technology and Innovation
SAMIR DAMLE

SAMIR DAMLE

 ADVISOR

Biography

Samir Damle is a seasoned User Experience (UX) Designer with 17 years of experience in design. He earned his Master’s degree in Industrial Design from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1997 and Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from VNIT, Nagpur in India. Samir’s started applying his knowledge of industrial design and usability to make enterprise web applications efficient and easy to use.

His experience and skills are listed below:

  • Advisor to Armorway and SecureDB.co (a data security startup)
  • Worked at several startups and multinationals in US including Orchestro, Infor, Approva, Possible and Capgemini
  • Designing the user experience of ABC7 News website, risk management and banking software, and dashboards for retail supply chain analytics
  • Proficiency in several programming languages including JavaScript, ES6, HTML5, CSS3, PHP and Python and is skilled in latest front-end frameworks such as AngularJS and D3.js
ERROLL G. SOUTHERS

ERROLL G. SOUTHERS

ADVISOR

Biography

Erroll G. Southers is the Director of Transition and Research Deployment at the DHS National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) at the University of Southern California, where he developed the Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism and serves as an adjunct professor of Homeland Security and Public Policy in the Sol Price School of Public Policy. Prof. Southers earned his undergraduate degree from Brown University, and he holds master’s and doctoral degrees in public policy from USC.

  • Former FBI Special Agent
  • Managing Director of the Counter-Terrorism and Infrastructure Protection Division of the international security consulting firm TAL Global Corporation
  • President Barack Obama’s first nominee for Assistant Secretary of the TSA
  • Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Deputy Director for Critical Infrastructure of the California Office of Homeland Security
  • Appears as a counterterrorism analyst on a variety of national and international media networks
LOUISE WANNIER

LOUISE WANNIER

ADVISOR

Biography

Louise Wannier is an experienced Board member, strategic, business development and technology visionary with developing innovative software platforms across four distinct industries: consumer electronics, education technology, fashion e-commerce and information management software. Ms. Wannier has an MBA with Honors from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. She has a passion for transforming the consumer experience and solving significant business problems.

  • Founded MyShape, the first Online Personal Shop where each member had their personal shop profile significantly improving conversion to purchase
  • Co-founded Gemstar (makers of VCR Plus+ which established over 100M) customers worldwide within five years, an IPO at $500M valuation, subsequently rising to $20B)
  • Founded Enfish, Desktop and Enterprise software installed in over 2000 companies which she merged with an enterprise portal company, establishing an enterprise sales channel across diverse industry sectors: e.g. defense, pharmaceutical, legal