Authorea Spotlight: Viputheshwar Sitaraman (PubDraw)

The Authorea Team

Who is the youngest person in the U.S. to ever raise venture capital funding? Vip Sitaraman.

Vip—no relation to Very Important Person, although he is pretty damn cool—is a 3-time entrepreneur, scientist, and designer extraordinaire. He is at the helm of GMTRY (parent company of Draw ScienceRXN, and Explica), an open access publishing platform that turns academic papers into infographics. Did we mention he's 18 years old?
Viputheshwar Sitaraman, CEO and Founder of GMTRY
We interviewed Vip while he is in the midst of the Seed Sumo (early-stage startup accelerator) summer program in Texas.

What inspired you at the age of 16 and continues to inspire you today?
I believe that anybody can do anything with access to knowledge. PubDraw is my way of helping open the gates to knowledge, by making cutting edge research accessible to anyone.

When I was 13, I was handed my first academic paper. I spent weeks trying to understand it, searching almost every other word on Wikipedia. After two more years of that, I landed my first lab position. Soon after, I published in the World Forum in Biology. But since day 1, I've had an acute hatred for jargon as a barrier to knowledge dissemination.

What does being a scientist and artist mean to you? How does art promote open science?
We can break down paywalls and publishing fees, but the biggest hurdle in open science is language. Jargon prevents even scientists from communicating with each other, let alone the remaining 99.98% of the world. My goal is to translate science through art. 

Written language used to be in the form of cuneiform and hieroglyphics: symbols that resembled the items they represented. Infographics are merely a revival of such illustrative modes of communication: more tedious to create, but more rapidly understood.

What are some not-so-intuitive tips you have for telling the most compelling story via design?
  • Avoid being chronological: instead go from big idea to specific conclusion.
  • Conclusion first, story second: catch your reader's attention with the impact of your work--then explain it.