Manot: a startup that simplifies small objects in aerial imagery

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Armenian State University of Armenia, within the frames of the grant program “Innovation constituent of startups” of the grant program “From Idea to Business” awarded by RA Ministry of High-Tech Industry, implements a project aimed at transferring necessary knowledge and practical skills to startup representatives, provide business connections to expand favorable conditions to develop their business. Beneficiaries of the acceleration program are 6 startups from different spheres. Within the frames of the program, starting from February 22, thematic learning courses as well as cooperation stage with mentors have started and continue at ASUE Change Lab where participants get acquainted with problems of intellectual property protection of startups, funding stages and investment instruments, fund-raising, digital marketing and branding.

ASUE Division of Marketing and PR starts a series of publications on 6 startups: we have already presented Zleenk startup,  Gabby, and “Robodel, and now we will introduce Manot.

Manot is an annotation tool of small objects that enables to quickly simplify small object annotations in aerial imagery (UAV) without damaging the accuracy of annotation. Director and founder of company is Chinar Movsisyan and underneath is the interview with her.

- How did you come up with the idea of Manot?

- I graduated from bachelor’s studies and master’s degree programs of YSU, Faculty of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, later I studied as a master’s student in France, University of Grenoble. I started to deal with Artificial Intelligence in line with my studies as well as its applications and how and where to apply them. I faced problems at the Armenian company dealing with data development received from drones. It was topical to create a system, a model to integrate it into drone and adjacent issues. I was constantly facing such problems and in late 2020, beginning of 2021, I and my two friends decided to solve this problem within the frames of their master’s thesis. All of us have faced it and we had sufficient data and base. I offered to join these separate data, experience, and make it a product for everybody to be able to use.

The initial idea was that NVP was designed and I started to do market research and understand what can be done afterwards. We also participated in the program of Armenia Startup Academy, Pre-Accelerator and in June started our main activities. Two more people, Astghik and Hovhannes joined our team. After the initial stage, we started to talk to potential clients.

-How was the cooperation between Artificial Intelligence and the team?

- It was not easy as we were all technologists: Astghik is from business, Hovhannes is aware of startup ecosystem. It was hard in the beginning, now as well, but there are no issues concerning the scientific part. If we look at the production process, then automation is accelerating.

-As you said, you have started negotiations with clients in June. Did they trust your idea? Was it easy to persuade them?

- No, it was hard and up to now is difficult but their attitude changes with time. They see the necessity in our product. In companies producing satellites, it was carried out with expensive and time-consuming methods. Currently, they see the results of our product. Some representatives of the company told us that it took their engineers 7 months to analyze the data.

- You need to attract much financing. How do you solve it?

We have already won two grants but we should attract investment all the time. We do not have a huge contract that will provide us some annual income.

- What is the story behind the name Manot?

- At first, the name was Military Annotation, but it was not good to present our product as something military. We decided to join the letter ‘M’ and the word Anot and Manot appeared.

- Manot has all the chances to become world famous. What are your expectations?

- Currently, Astghik lives in Berlin. She works to develop our business in Germany and neighboring countries. Nowadays, we want to enter the American market.

- “From idea to Business” is not the first acceleration program for you. What can such programs offer startups?

- Good accelerators try to show you the right direction and give you the right information and help you find necessary connections. I can say the same about the program organized in Change Lab. It is the second program for us, but there were some useful topics and we can learn some things from it as well.

- Which changes would you offer to be done within the frames of this program?

- I highly appreciate the initiative of RA High Tech Industry for local startups. I would like this course to be available online as well.

- What can you tell about your work with the mentor?

- We had a meeting with the mentor and told about us and our activities and they try to introduce us different aspects as well. Currently we are in the process of fundraising.

- Where do you see Manot in 5 years?

- 5 years later. It will be a well-established company and will be famous and be known for its activities and functioning and good team. Team culture is important for us. We would like to shape a team environment with emphasis on personal development and growth.