Playing guitar for the band Hemway in February 2020. The show was for a diversity event, All Together Now, at the Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain.
In this series of conversations, Behind the Scenes at Topos Labs, you’ll get a sneak peek into the various teams and people who contribute to our success. We’ll touch on everything from trends and product innovation to culture and passion.
Today let’s meet John Krone, quality assurance lead at Topos Labs. He is responsible for ensuring Gracie, the company’s software product, is stable and bug-free at all times. He’s a graduate of UMass Amherst, and a passionate musician and producer. John believes there is a natural synergy between his work with technology and his love affair with music.
Here’s my conversation with John.
Parna: Tell me a little about yourself.
John: I grew up on science and music in a small town in the South Shore of Massachusetts. Throughout high school and college, I had an array of odd summer jobs, typically involving manual labor. I enjoyed these jobs, despite them being very contrary to my personality. I graduated in 2017 with a degree in Physics from UMass Amherst and then moved to Nashville for a year of personal development and career exploration. This consisted of researching neutrinos, tutoring math and selling guitars. It was an exciting time where I learned a lot, but found myself longing to be a part of something more fast-paced and innovative. I moved back to Boston and joined Topos Labs shortly after.
Parna: What’s your role at Topos Labs and how are you influencing the industry?
John: As quality assurance lead, it is my responsibility to ensure that Gracie, our product, is operating at peak performance. It involves designing and performing tests on the user interface, which is where users interact with Gracie’s underlying machine learning models. The second, and trickier part, is making sure these models are efficient and accurate in a wide range of environments. Researching and testing the latter led to one of my main contributions to the product, Validation. Validation is the place in Gracie’s UI where one can test models and get visual feedback on how to improve them. This helps set us apart from other industry solutions. Gracie is a platform that anyone can use – regardless of technical background – to build, test, and harness the power of advanced machine learning algorithms.
Parna: What do you like most about working at Topos Labs?
John: Exposure to new ideas is something I value greatly, especially when I get to use those ideas in a constructive way. When I first began at Topos, I had a very surface-level idea of how software and artificial intelligence (AI) works. The team here has given me the guidance to understand these concepts more intimately. Fast forward a year and a half, and Gracie now contains algorithms I have written myself. We are not a company that is following in the footsteps of any other, which provides vast freedom to explore creative ways to solve problems. The thing I enjoy most about working at Topos is constantly being posed with the question “Company X wants to solve problem Y, how can we make that happen?”.
Parna: If Gracie was a physical product, what would she be?
John: Gracie is a platform that supports a wide range of text analytics needs. However, one of the most common use cases we get is to take a giant document store and sift out all of the unimportant documents. In this case, Gracie acts very much like a sieve. She takes a pile of ‘dirt’ and finds the ‘gold’ hiding inside.
Parna: What do you do when you are not working?
John: Music has always been a huge passion of mine. I play guitar, drums and bass, but also produce electronic music. I have played with many groups throughout my life, and even started a recording studio in the basement of my college house. Most of that time I was helping make music for others, but recently have shifted to creating music for myself. I feel that my work at Topos and love of music boost each other in a positive way. Music has shown me that there are infinite ways to approach an idea, and Topos has exposed me to the business-know-how and diligence to confidently release my own music.