Tell us about yourself?
I am an Indian-American who grew up in Norman, Oklahoma and went into software engineering when I graduated from college at University of Virginia.
I joined Amazon.com in 1998 as an early software developer and was at Amazon for 7 years through much of its early rollercoaster ride. After leaving Amazon in 2005, I have focused on opportunities that combined my technical leadership and product development experience with impact areas.
I was the founding CTO for Catalist, a political data analytics company that worked closely with the Obama 2008 campaign.
I was Chief Digital Officer at The Washington Post Company focused on innovation in news. And then I founded Floreo in 2016 from a personal place inspired by my son’s first experience with VR and how it seemed to allow him to overcome some of his challenges with autism.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
I think people think of startups as volatile and therefore short jobs when in fact as a founder, it is likely a 7-10 year commitment.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Go slow to go fast. There’s an urge to move quickly and spend money but I think startups benefit from being focused and so even slow progress can be fast if you are hyperfocused in an area and when the time comes to grow and hire and do marketing, that focus and preparation makes a big difference.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
My prior experience with Amazon is unique and today I have worked in disparate markets and bring an outsider’s eye to problems.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
I answer every email. And in general, I’ll take every meeting if someone is looking for advice or mentorship. I learn so much talking to others.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Our company is inspired by the potential of all neurodiverse individuals and believe that virtual reality is a transformation medium for teaching.
Where do you see your business in five years?
In 5 years, we expect to be serving millions of neurodiverse children and adults through the metaverse.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Floreo sits at the intersection of health care and eduction so commercializing wisely in a market that is part regulated will be critical.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
We have had a number of successes, but the biggest really is the high loyalty and excitement we see from the kids using Floreo and their therapist and teachers.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
We have a sales team, and recent coverage like our New York Times profile have raised visibility of the company.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
I would tell founders that they should only found a company that they are deeply passionate about because you are in it for the long haul and there will be many trying moments.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
We want to change the lives of millions of neurodiverse individuals to help them reach their dreams while building a successful business so that we can continue to invest in innovation and the intersection of the metaverse and telehealth.