PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Xuchen Yao

“It doesn’t matter if you do not have that knowledge or the right skills. Once you have the right attitude, you can learn everything.”

Whiting School of Engineering

Computer Science, PhD 2014

CEO at

Xuchen‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss what led Xuchen to embark on an entrepreneurial path after completing his PhD in language and speech processing at Johns Hopkins, his experience transitioning out of academia and co-founding two successful startup companies with a fellow JHU alumnus, and his perspective on intentionally giving back and making a meaningful impact with your career.

Learn More About Xuchen‘s Story

Dr. Yao at the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence, where his first startup KITT.AI was founded

Late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen started the Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence (AI2) in 2014 to advance the scientific research of AI. AI2 is not only an AI research institute, but also an entrepreneurial heaven. My company KITT.AI, was the first one to be incubated at AI2, and the first one to have a successful exit. I found the journey of being an entrepreneur thrilling, exhilarating, rewarding, and at the same time uncertain, fearful, frustrating, and exhausting. One has to be driven by a deep sense of purpose and determination to make it through. And we did, thanks to the education I got from JHU. When we exited from KITT.AI, we made a small donation to the Center for Language and Speech Processing of Johns Hopkins University, as a token of thank you, and also encouragement for students to pursue something that’s challenging and world changing.

Xuchen Yao and his long-term co-founder Guoguo Chen started their second company

They say everything great has to be invented at least twice. When you have regret in life, there’s rarely a second chance that you can do it again. My long-time co-founder Guoguo Chen and I had a blast before, and wanted to re-invent something great one more time. Thus, we started in 2020 at the beginning of Covid19, without knowing what’s laying in the future. We feel we have learned so much from school, and haven’t contributed enough to society. We share a vision of using technology to make people’s lives better, and also support each other with a great deal of accountability. We keep the communication open between us, between our individual families, and between co-founders and employees. We get each other’s back whenever there’s an obstacle and crisis. When we are in the journey of developing a new technology and product, we also have developed a deep relationship, professionalism, and bond to achieve something great together. They say a single person walks fast but a group of people walk far. Together as a team, we hope we walk further and further each day.