I am thrilled to partner with Prajakt Deolasee in the HyperTrack journey. We have shadowed each other’s paths for about a decade now — building teams in the IIT Bombay neighborhood, operating in the Powai Valley to Silicon Valley corridor, working with the same mentors, and chasing the dream of building category leading global technology products out of India. After a decade of mutual desire to work together, we are finally tying the knot at HyperTrack.
I first heard about Prajakt when he was Director of Engineering at Webaroo with offices in Powai, while I was running Future Group’s ecommerce business and building an engineering team in the neighborhood. Prajakt had built and managed an enviable engineering team at Webaroo. He had started as engineering leader in the early days of their first product - offline search - and worked through the pivots leading to SMS Gupshup, the world’s fastest growing SMS platform at the time. My team and I would get tips from Prajakt about hiring tech talent in Powai, and then more importantly, retaining them.
I only met Prajakt in person for the first time in 2010 at a dark hole-in-the-wall office in Powai Plaza, Hiranandani Gardens. He had co-founded a new company called Snapstick with our mutual mentor Rakesh Mathur. As Rakesh always does, he introduced the new company through a product demo.
Prajakt challenged me to a multi-player game of snakes on Nokia feature phones. He used one phone and handed me the other. In the setup, he was using a smartphone as the controller and a large computer screen as the display. A few months before Apple launched AirPlay, Snapstick was solving the problem of exporting display over a wireless connection from any smartphone to any old display. Snapstick was a pioneer in the area of multi-user, multi-screen apps. Snapstick eventually sold to publicly listed Rovi Corp (now TiVo Corp) for a good chunk of change. Prajakt continued to serve as the India engineering leader of Rovi for a few years beyond the acquisition.
After Snapstick/Rovi, Prajakt and I were building complementary products for the same target customers — restaurants in the US. He was helping build an analytics solution called Socho while I was developing a mobile payments solution called Chalo. We were both building from Mumbai and selling to restaurants in the Bay Area. Chalo got acquired by publicly listed OpenTable and became Pay with OpenTable. It was my turn to provide tips to Prajakt on recruiting and retaining local restaurant businesses for new technology products.
The entrepreneurial bug bite has clearly smitten Prajakt deeply. Despite a ton of growth and late stage opportunities chasing him with large chip stacks, he has chosen to take the plunge with HyperTrack at an early stage. We are thrilled to have him lead our engineering team at our brand spanking new office at WeWork Koramangala, Bangalore. In this picture above, the team is pointing at the gray hair that we were missing in the team and have now found. It feels like striking gold.
Buddy, welcome to your Day 1 at HyperTrack!
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