LEARN FROM BILLIONAIRE MENTORS
Balaji Viswanathan the founder of a robotics company - Invento [Humanoid robots for customer interaction] with a goal to be a pioneer in the emerging field of AI enabled hardware.
During his college days, he was a three times winner of the prestigious medal from the National Design and Research Forum - for his research. As a student, he was invited to meet the most famed President of India at his office for one on one discussions. Thirst, search and research. Those two days were the most precious in his life. [His meeting encounters: Why is Abdul Kalam widely loved and respected by everyone?]. He got multiple international honors such as IEEE’s Lance Stafford Larson student paper award, IEEE Computer’s international award for academic excellence and an Honorable mention at the Asia finals of ACM ICPC.
He started his career as a software engineer in Microsoft HQ in Seattle - in Windows core division, later in Live Labs and Windows Phone. It was a big leap for me - raised in villages in southern India and from a second tier engineering college to get to that point. He was among the younger ones back then to be hired directly as a developer into the core Windows team. He was not very successful though and known more for his writing than his development skills. By the time quit 4 years later, He was reasonable well known around the company’s distribution lists.
After about 5 years in the US, He returned to India with romantic notions of revolutionizing education. He started among the first MOOC platforms - NalandaU - back in 2009. We were bit early then when edtech was not a word among the Venture Capitalist. The venture bombed and he pivoted. Learning from failures: What his failed ventures taught me
Then he cofounded a fin-tech company - Zingfin - that had better successes. They were in the last rounds of Y-Combinator’s prestigious acclerator program, but could not close it after a brutal interview with Paul Graham. We were later funded by two accelerators - Jumpstart Foundary in Nashville and Boost VC in the silicon valley. Startups In The Fastlane: Jumpstart Foundry Startup ZingFin, Bizjournals and Babson MBAs Use Social Media to Predict Moves in the Stock Market
We were again a bit too early in the industry and pivoted to productivity software - Limitless. The software we built quickly grew to be among the highest rated extensions on the Chrome browser - Be Limitless. A lot of companies from around the world used it and plenty of media publications.
Due to visa issues, he could not continue running the company and moved as a Product Manager at Black Duck - a fast growing startup in Boston. Two years later, He moved back to India with a new venture.
Over the years, He has run successful blogs and dozens of his articles have been published in major media. Some of those are from his Quora answers. In the past, before starting on Quora, He had also helped corporations and political organizations with their content strategy.
He has two full time Masters degrees - both on scholarship. A MS from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and an MBA from Babson college. He worked with some of the top professors in Artificial Intelligence/Multi-agent Systems and did his thesis work on Multi-agent Systems (developing a platform for 100s of intelligent agents such as robots or wireless sensors to work together to solve a problem).