Carnegie Mellon University

image of Suresh Karthik

February 19, 2024

INI Alumnus Karthik Suresh’s AI-Powered Startup Streamlines Go-to-Market Operations

By Evan Lybrand

INI Communications Team

The world of technical startups can be thrilling and challenging; for Information Networking Institute (INI) alumnus Karthik Suresh, it was a passion that kept calling. Suresh began his startup, Ignition, to bridge the gap between engineering a product and bringing it to market. After only two and a half years, Ignition has raised $8 million in funding from Altman Capital, Audacious Ventures and other venture capitalists. 

Suresh came to the United States from India in 2006 to attend the INI’s Master of Science in Information Networking (MSIN) program. Inspired by the unique, interdisciplinary nature of the INI’s programs, he pursued courses at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Tepper School of Business and Heinz College 

After graduation, Suresh went to Wall Street, where he worked in the finance sector for seven years. He then went to business school and eventually became the first employee at, a supply chain resiliency startup. Suresh helped to grow exponentially and then decided he “needed a vacation” from the startup world. 

However, it wasn’t long before Suresh felt the call to return. Working as a product manager in then-Facebook’s Reality Labs, Suresh noticed the inefficiency of product launch planning. He was working on a new product launch when he became frustrated with its lack of organization.  

“The launch plan was a spreadsheet with about 100 tabs,” he remembers. “It was a nightmare to run the whole process.”  

From this frustration, Ignition was born. Suresh used the interdisciplinary foundation from his coursework at the INI and his professional experiences in the industry to create a successful business.  

As a graduate of MSIN, the INI’s flagship degree program, Suresh learned the fundamentals of information networking that underly all aspects of technology advancements.  

“Information networking impacts the whole tech ecosystem; on every aspect of software engineering, from the application side, the server side, and on AI infrastructure too.”   

“The INI also gave me an early exposure to non-technical courses,” he added. “CMU is one of the top engineering schools in the country. However, when you’re creating new businesses or a startup, that’s just one part. Courses like accounting, finance, and business modeling had a big impact on my outlook and the way I approach problems.” 

This exposure to courses outside of the core engineering curriculum gave Suresh the well-rounded skill set to develop his startup. Ignition is a platform that bridges the gap between product development and marketing. The tools offer the potential to revolutionize how products go to market.  

“If you work with engineering teams to build a product, you need to know how to talk about that product with your customers,” Suresh said. “If you cannot message your product, if you don’t know how to position your product, how are you going to build a good product?”  

In a single platform, Ignition users can conduct audience research, build a product, collaborate on roadmaps as a team, and launch a product, all with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). Ignition uses AI to help generate text for copywriting and aggregate customer insights. Currently, Ignition is introducing a chatbot called ChatGTM to help its users navigate product roadmaps.  

“AI is a big part of our platform because nobody wants another project management tool or task management tool anymore,” Suresh shared. “People want to automate the work.   

To Suresh, AI is a powerful tool that shouldn't be ignored. “You can see the real power of [AI]. Whether tech, pharma, or entertainment, AI is impacting every industry and that acceleration is only going to get faster.”  

Always on the cutting edge, the INI, as part of a college-wide initiative, launched a new Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence Engineering - Information Security (MSAIE-IS) program in 2022. The MSAIE-IS degree trains the next generation of AI engineers and business leaders to navigate this evolving technical field, from ethics to cybersecurity.