Hrishikesh Amravatkar, myDate
By 2015, the use of the mobile web looks to surpass 2x the size of current desktop usage. Morgan Stanley’s prediction for this emerging technology signals potentially large financial gains for anyone willing to tackle the challenges of developing in this unsettled mobile domain.
Hrishikesh Amravatkar and his team hope to do just this by “disrupting the mobile knowledge sharing market”. Originally from Pune, India, Hrishikesh immigrated to the U.S. on a F1 Student Visa in 2005 to pursue his Masters in Computer Science from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
“Attending USC was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Hrishikesh. “I was introduced to a vast pool of knowledge, talent, and ecosystem that I believe makes the U.S. an innovation hub.“
Shortly after graduating, he landed a job at eBay Inc. and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Hrishikesh now works for a top tech company as a lead engineer. However, he dreams of one day running his own company.
“Since I was young, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” he said. “I wanted to innovate and help the community. It is not just about making money; instead it is about making the world a better place.”
Hrishikesh is no stranger to the startup process. In 2003, while still in India, he helped create websites for undergraduate students to post blogs, news, and articles related to the university. Then, in 2007 while at USC, Hrishikesh noticed a problem when it came to students sharing books. His solution? He created OnStretch.com, an free online marketplace for students to sell and buy their used books. The site maintained 33 exclusive university partnerships.
Two-years after joining the U.S. workforce, Hrishikesh felt that he was ready to finally start on his own venture.
“I wanted to kick start a company in 2009, but my attorneys recommended otherwise,” he said. “The H1B visa, which I currently hold, has strict limitations. In fact, you could get into trouble if you decided to start a company while holding an H1B visa. You may not be able to file for a Green Card in future either. It struck me that as an immigrant, I could not create jobs.
Still, Hrishikesh made sure that his entrepreneurial enthusiasm continued. He started developing a free location-based dating iPhone application, which was launched across 85 countries. Called, myDate, the app currently boasts approximately 100,000 plus users – a feat accomplished without any investment or the typical infrastructure support.
With this experience, Hrishikesh’s wants nothing more than to venture into the startup world. His idea is to create a mobile application that can help people who have critical needs at a certain time.
“This is an untapped opportunity to utilize a billion-dollar market,” he said. “Unfortunately, I am at a standstill due to current immigration rules.
Hrishikesh also mentioned, “I have worked for several great companies in Silicon Valley and have expanded my experience. But, the long and tedious immigration process has made me rethink my decision to come to U.S. and be a tech entrepreneur. It will take at least five more years before I get a Green Card.”
Hrishikesh’s situation has his hands tied. He cannot pursue his dream until he has been naturalized; and, the wait time and the cost of doing so continue to grow. As the clock continues to tick, Hrishikesh and his team are losing valuable development time. For them, Morgan Stanley’s 2015 projections may come and go before they even have the chance to participate.
“I’ve always believed that the U.S. was the place for innovation and talent,” Hrishikesh said. “People say the U.S. is a land of immigrants, but the reality is completely different. With my drive and talent, I could definitely create jobs and generate revenues for the U.S economy. Unfortunately, I can’t sit and wait forever. Many of my friends have moved back to their home countries and have started their own successful ventures. I feel that I am sitting on a goldmine but lack the basic support.”