About Circle


Before Circle Optics

Before officially founding Circle Optics, our founder’s initial motivation for looking at 360° cameras was mapping. He wondered why the world had not been mapped continuously and why he could not virtually walk around it. The reason? There is a bottleneck in 360° content production caused by parallax and the need to stitch images together. The extra time and money it costs to stitch grows exponentially as the video length, frame rate and resolution increases. 

The opportunity to solve this problem first came in Zak’s senior year of college, at the University of Rochester, during his advanced lens design class. He was not able to solve it in that final semester (he still will not give out his final grade), and the dream was put on hold. 

Over the next few years he traveled the world, until one day in Australia a brief conversation reminded him of his dream of mapping the planet and making the camera that makes that possible. He immediately flew back to Long Island and started working on what would become Hydra


Circle Optics Comes to Light

Circle Optics was officially founded in December 2017. It was originally located in New York City, but with the acceptance into NextCorps Luminate Accelerator, Circle Optics found its permanent home in Rochester, New York December 2018. 

The company quickly grew as the abundant optical resources in Rochester presented themselves. Between January 2019 and May 2019, the team grew from 1 to 15. It is filled with top senior talent from the area as well as fresh young faces from the surrounding universities.

This rapid growth has quickly created a company culture of strong work ethic, but there is always time for food and jokes. We are excited to continue to see the company grow and create an environment ideal for innovation.



In May 2019, Circle Optics was awarded its first patent covering our system, method and applications. Since, further applications have been submitted.

In June 2019, Circle Optics placed at Luminate finales winning a $250k investment, as well as a $10k audience choice prize. Since then we have been raising for our seed round and developing a production quality Hydra. We plan to disrupt the 360° content industry by removing the bottleneck of stitching, providing the highest quality camera and letting this medium flourish. 

Want to know more about Circle Optics or 360° content in your industry? Contact us, we love to chat!


Zak Niazi

Founder, CEO

Ian Gauger.jpg

Ian Gauger

Corporate Operations Manager


Madilyn Beckman

Associate Project Manager


 Circle in the News

"Can your camera do this?" | NextCorps

July 21, 2019 | Our Sunday #StartupSpotlight is on Circle Optics, creator of Hydra, the world's first parallax-free 360 degree camera. Hydra eliminates the need for expensive, time-consuming "stitching," the process of aligning multiple images pixel-by-pixel to create a unified image.

Luminate awards photonics startups $2M in year two of its five-year $25M program | Laser Focus World

June 28, 2019 | On June 27, 2019, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced is the winner of Round II of the Luminate NY competition . The Rochester, NY-based company received top honors at Luminate NY's "Light Tomorrow with Today" Demo Day competition, held in the main tent at the CGI International Jazz Festival in downtown Rochester.

Governor Cuomo Announces Round II Winners of Luminate NY Accelerator Competition | Globe Newswire

June 27, 2019 | Three Additional Visionary Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Companies Secure Follow-on Funding Investment New York State Investment Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - the Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy -- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

AR VR Track at Light and Sound Interactive 2019 Looks to Future | Photonics Media

July 1, 2019 | At Light and Sound Interactive (LSI), held June 25-27 in Rochester, N.Y., the Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) track made one thing clear: The technology may, at some point, become as ubiquitous as smartphones.

Circle Optics uses bug eye lens to seamlessly look at world | Rochester Business Journal

March 7, 2019 | Google Maps is a technological marvel, an interactive map of the entire world easily accessible and usable by anyone. Street View is an even more impressive technological undertaking, offering a panoramic view of any locale the Google vans have reached. The Street View vehicles capture images via a 15-camera system mounted at about eight feet above ...

Luminate NY Announces Cohort II Finalists | Photonics Media

Nov. 15, 2018 | Empire State Development (ESD) has announced the 10 companies selected to take part in the second cohort of New York state's Luminate NY accelerator competition.