Kirsty is the CEO for Latent Logic – an Oxford University A.I. technology spin-out using state-of-the-art machine learning to develop virtual reality test environments for self-driving cars. An Oxford graduate, Kirsty spent her early career at strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman. She then joined the AA as Director of Membership Services and Ventures to lead the strategy post IPO. Whilst there she launched several successful start-ups in the future mobility ecosystem, including the AA’s multi award-winning Connected Car product Car Genie. Kirsty is also a Non Executive Director for the Institute of Directors. Her company Latent Logic closed its seed round in February 2018.
I started out in Oxford a long way from self-driving car technology – my degree was actually in Classics (i.e. Latin and Ancient Greek), which I absolutely loved. I knew it wasn’t the right thing for me to stay in academia, as I wanted to get out and see more of the world and how it worked. So I became a strategy consultant at Oliver Wyman, which is a great way to try out loads of different industries, and travel and learn new skills quickly. Whilst at Oliver Wyman, I took 6 months out to work as employee number 2 in a start-up, which was an awesome experience and definitely gave me the start-up bug. So I joined the AA (Automobile Association) as their Director of Ventures, which involved investing in and launching start-ups in the field of future mobility. One of the areas I worked on was autonomous driving, and I quickly realised this was a hugely powerful technology with massive societal benefits, and I wanted to be a part of making that technology real.
Believing in something and making it happen, even if that involves huge risks and uncertainty.
When we started getting really positive feedback from potential customers, and we were certain that we were addressing a material need that customers had, and they hadn’t found a good solution for yet
Resilience: start-up life is characterised by ups and downs, so you need to be prepared for that and, if you can, enjoy the journey and see even the downs as a positive learning opportunity
Belief: there’s no point starting a business unless you really care about what you do, and you’re willing to fight for it. This will get you through the downs, and help guide you in tough decisions where there’s lots of uncertainty and no clear answer
Independence: I don’t actually mean being independent from others – although it’s is true you have to be able to make your own decisions. More important is being independent from the business – so making sure you keep a life outside work and try to keep your business in perspective.
Making something that I believe in happen, that might not happen otherwise. And being able to do that in the right way – creating a company culture that reflects good wholesome values which we feel are important and sustainable
I’m inspired by companies and brands that have been able to re-invent themselves and stay relevant over time, despite changing business cycles, and combine their business practices with a commitment to sustainability – like IKEA, Microsoft, or Starbucks.
How they stayed true to their values and their ideals, and how they brought the rest of the team with them
I think the two most important things to remember are to stay true to your principles and your mission, and to talk to your customers early and keep talking to them.
We have raised seed funding from two venture capital firms
We have two grants to build autonomous driving technology from Innovate UK
Oxford has a pretty unique combination of tech start-up ecosystem, awesome brand through the University, and great quality of life
Our venture capital investor, Oxford Sciences Innovation, have been hugely helpful for us
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it! It can feel like you need to have all the answers – but that’s not true, and there’s loads of people out there who can help you, even if it’s just a friendly ear to moan to over a cup of tea.