Mark Cramer SB '90
Applied AI Product Management
- PARC, a Xerox Company
Other Affiliations : MBA Harvard ' 94
Mark Cramer founded Rank Dynamics in 2006 but was able to rake in $600k in angle funding in 2008-9. The company was bootstrapped for a decade before the team moved on to other things.
Why did you decide to volunteer with the MITCNC?
I’ve been loosely volunteering with the MITCNC for over a decade, but I significantly ramped up my participation after the first AI Conference. While I was attracted by the subject matter, I realized that there were many opportunities to get involved with the obviously vibrant MIT community in the Bay Area. I think that ‘big’ event really triggered my desire to commit more of my time to the club.
Tell us a bit about your role with the MITCNC. What are your responsibilities in this position?
For the past couple years I have dedicated a lot of my time to the HBS Startup Partners program, founded and run by Phil Rettger (MIT c/o 80). As such, when Rolf Brauchler (MIT c/o 69), who founded VMS and has done an amazing job running it, decided to retire, I was asked to fill the position. I’m looking forward to continuing his tradition of working with world-class entrepreneurs and mentors while we collectively look to evolve and progress the model.
What exciting things can we expect to see from your area of focus in the coming months? (e.g., social events, speakers, etc.)
Starting last week my primary focus is on VMS and filling Rolf’s big shoes. We’ve already had a great strategy session to discuss ideas for moving forward and, not surprisingly, the dedicated folks who’ve been working with VMS for years had lots of exciting ideas. The core mission – helping entrepreneurs – will remain the same, but we’ll be running some experiments to widen the footprint and enhance engagement. Stay tuned!
Describe one of your most memorable MIT moments.
Of course I recall parties and fraternity shenanigans, but how many people would say that they remember a final exam? (OK, MIT, perhaps a lot.) I took Artificial Intelligence with Prof. Winston (his text is on my shelf right now) the Spring of my sophomore year. The exam was in Walker Memorial, it was hot and it was the last day of finals. I cannot remember how many hours the exams were back then, but they were long. That being said, after about an hour most everyone had finished and left. What I think they didn’t realize, however, was that every question was a trick, and you had to analyze each to find the trick. Once identified, the answers became relatively obvious, but without it you’d go down the wrong path. So I used the full amount of allotted time. For the last couple hours, assuredly to the dismay of the TA who no doubt wanted to leave for the summer, I was the only other person in the gym. I’m not sure what came over me, but I was determined to identify the trick in every problem. I must have done OK, because I got an A. Apologies for my humble brag, but I was proud of that one.