Career trajectory: After receiving his undergraduate degree in mathematics and Ph.D. in marketing from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 and 2013, respectively, Schwartz packed his bags and moved west to Ann Arbor, where he was an assistant professor of marketing from 2013 to 2020 and then became a tenured associate professor last year. After working in Flint with U-M students on lead issues in the water system, Blue Conduit — an AI startup that helps identify lead pipes — was officially founded in 2019. It has done work in Flint, Detroit, Benton Harbor and Toledo.
Proudest achievement: Developing Blue Conduit, which has received grant funding from Google.org, the California-based Internet giant’s charitable arm; Troy-based The Kresge Foundation; and the New York City-based Rockefeller Foundation. Schwartz said Blue Conduit is expanding to “dozens of other cities” beyond Flint. The company has grown from no revenue and one employee in 2019 to just shy of $1 million in revenue this year and more than a dozen full-time employees, Schwartz said.
What’s next: Getting Blue Conduit “in the hands of as many communities as possible,” Schwartz said. A second goal is developing a second line of business applying AI to other public health issues, such as tracking legionella bacteria in water, for example.
Words of wisdom: “When you get that burning gut feeling that you should be doing something that you’re not doing yet, you probably should do it,” Schwartz said.