ECE Grad Amir Rubin, Chief Parakeet
By Jennifer Waters, Correspondent, Published in the Gainesville Sun: Sunday, November 24, 2013, http://www.gainesville.com/article/20131124/ARTICLES/131129820/0/search?p=2&tc=pg
Amir Rubin is the CEO of Paracosm, but he would much rather be called "chief parakeet" or "parakeet cosmonaut," a title he shares with his team of computer engineers, programmers and 3-D artists. The startup's large stuffed space parakeet mascot sits on a couch downstairs in the unmarked two-story office downtown.
Paracosm may have a whimsical company culture, but the startup has experienced serious success and growth since Rubin, 32, co-founded it in January. The business has grown from five employees to 15 full-time staffers in Gainesville, with three who work remotely in Silicon Valley, Calif.
The startup has contracts with NASA and ESRI, an international supplier of geodatabase software and other software. But the startup's biggest contract is with Google, Rubin said. He called these companies "early business and development partners," as the technology is still in its infancy.
Paracosm processes data from 3-D scanners, such as the PrimeSense camera and Xbox Kinect, to create 3-D models that can be viewed on next-generation technology devices ranging from mobile phones to augmented reality glasses.
Rubin said "a 3-D model helps bridge the gap between physical reality, virtual reality and augmented reality."
Before forming Paracosm, Rubin said he and the other co-founders asked questions such as, "Why couldn't someone in Africa visit the Louvre?"
Jim Lilkendey, the owner of Apogee Coaching, who worked with Rubin at Prioria Robotics, said Paracosm is working with leading-edge technologies.
Pointing out the statement "3D-ify your world" on Paracosm's website, Lilkendey said, "They want to put a ding in the universe, if you will."
Originally from Boca Raton, Rubin has made an impact on the local tech community since he graduated from the University of Florida.
"(Rubin) is passionate about effective innovation," said Bill Dorman, entrepreneur in residence at the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development. He met Rubin at an event for startups.
In 2003, during Rubin's senior year at UF, he co-founded Prioria Robotics, an unmanned aircraft engineering company. He left the business in 2009.
Prioria was recently awarded $4.5 million in Army contracts and employs more than 30 people.
Rubin was also the first employee of Gainesville's Shadow Health, an educational software developer.
"There's no typical day in a startup," Rubin said of his current position. "It could be traveling to San Francisco or writing a proposal or meeting a potential development partner."
Zapps.com CEO Tony Hsieh's Nimbus Tech Fund and an angel investor from South Florida are Paracosm's major investors, Rubin said.
Paracosm recently won the Gainesville Area Innovation Network's third "ShootOut," with 16 local startups competing for $2,500 cash, $2,000 in legal services, money for other items and services, prizes, and a "rare Stetson hat."
Though the money was "an awesome bonus," Rubin said he entered for the black Stetson hat, which he placed on the stuffed space parakeet's head.
Regarding his future plans, Rubin said, "We're on year one of a 10-year roadmap. So we're just (going to) keep trucking."
In the meantime, Rubin also helps other startups and mentors young people in the field.
"(Rubin's) just so valuable to the community because of his passion for the practical application of knowledge," and not knowledge for knowledge's sake, Dorman said. "It's knowledge you can use."