- The list includes people who are redefining what it means to build and run a business amid the new normal, as well as the different paths they are taking to create success.
Several South Asian Americans are featured in Forbes ‘Next 1000,’ a list of inspiring entrepreneurs and small business leaders who are redefining what it means to build and run a business amid the new normal. Presented by Square, the list spotlights a total of 1,000 entrepreneurs, announced each quarter, in installments of 250 standouts.
In announcing the fourth and final installment this month, the magazine includes all 1000 people it has listed during the curse of the year. Forbes says the list “not only spotlights the diversity within the small business space but also the different paths that entrepreneurs are taking to create success.” It further adds that the list showcases “the ambitious sole proprietors, self-funded shops and pre-revenue startups in every region of the country, all with under $10 million in revenue or funding and infinite drive and hustle.”
South Asian Americans in Forbes ‘Next 1000’ include:
Nishant Aggarwal: From his experience of being a freelance consultant, Aggarwal developed his California-based company Nomawo, as he searched for ways to support freelancers taking on new clients. He launched the company in November 2020, to provide expert-led courses and various other resources to customers.
Nitin Agrawal: In 2017, he co-founded Interstride, an ed-tech company that gives international student support services to higher education institutions. Through Interstride, Agrawal, who is also CEO, aims to make international education equitable and inclusive by closing the opportunity gap for international students.
Rashi Arora: To help dog owners connect with their dog-loving neighbors in a safe way, Arora founded Cuddlytails in 2020 to help people build communities around their pets. The Jersey City-based company helps people make dog-loving friends and also book reliable dog-sitters or dog-walkers.
Arshad Bahl: He got the idea to start Amrita Health Foods after witnessing his son use a gluten-free and dairy-free diet to aid in his recovery from autism and gastrointestinal issues. Bahl left his job at IBM to launch Amrita Health Foods in 2012. The company, which produces plant-based protein snacks that are free from top allergens, has more than 100,000 clients.
Robin Bansal: After he and his wife were laid off in the 2009 Recession, they emptied their savings to buy a struggling tanning salon business in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 2010. They then launched Bansi Holdings, which now owns 15 retail locations as a franchisee of Palm Beach Tan, Hand & Stone, Plato’s Closet and Style Encore with more than 150 employees.
Prasenjit Bhadra: In 2014, he founded Ranial Systems, a technology startup offering a cognitive internet of things platform that allows companies to gain real-time intelligence and implement autonomous operations.
Anuj Bhalla: He co-founded serviceMob in 2016 to bring multiple sources of data into a single application that can be referenced by business analysts as well as customer service agents.
Ansh Bhammar and Yash Jain: ForagerOne began as a Johns Hopkins dorm-room startup by co-CEOs Bhammar and Jain and technical cofounders Michael Ashmead and Nitin Kumar. The university research network that connects students and faculty with an eye on accelerating interdisciplinary research got a real Covid boost when education went virtual. A member of the 2019 MassChallenge cohort, they released Symposium, a virtual events platform, last year.
Ami Bhansali: Born in Mumbai, she moved to the U.S. at age 28 to start Chai Diaries, her specialty organic tea brand. Today, her teas sell through Whole Foods, H-E-B and others. Despite Covid, the Mission Viejo, California-based entrepreneur more than doubled revenue in 2020.
Zabina Bhasin: After suffering from bullying throughout her childhood growing up as a first-generation Indian American, the child psychologist founded a diverse and inclusive toy company In Kidz last year. With a goal of helping children learn about other cultures and traditions, In Kidz offers products ranging from country-centric culture boxes, puzzles, and stuffed animals which can be found at major retailers like Nordstrom and Maisonette.
Vikas Bhatia: He co-founded JustProtect to help companies protect their electronic data. JustProtect offers a software platform that helps simplify the process through automated internal and external assessments for third-party vendors. The 12-person company, which participated in the Dreamit and Tampa Bay Wave Diversity accelerator programs, has helped facilitate tens of thousands of assessments since 2017.
Anita Chatterjee: Founder-CEO of public relations agency A-Game PR, Chaterjee’s clients have included Payal Kadakia (ClassPass), the Grammy-winning musician Ne-Yo and CAVU Venture Partners (the firm behind Bai, Thrive Market and more). As a female entrepreneur of color, her stated mission is to “raise the profile of female and minority founders” and ensure their stories are told in the world’s top media outlets.
Yasar Chaudhary: Eat Well Nashville was cofounded by Yasar Chaudhary and Rob Bellenfant in 2016 with the goal to provide prepared meals for busy individuals trying to maintain a healthy diet. It delivers breakfast, lunch and dinner options straight to customers’ doors. Now the largest healthy meal delivery service provider in the Middle Tennessee area, it serves more than 25,000 customers.
Purvi Desai: Founder of Zaaina, a bath and beauty product line, whose wholesale partnerships with Costco, Amazon and Etsy, as well as Arizona State National Park, have helped her sell her natural soaps, balms and serums to over 500,000 customers since 2010.
Ravneet Dhaliwal: The pediatrician opened Night Watch Urgent Care with Ravi Bains in Virginia in 2019, with a mission of providing acute and urgent services, quality treatment, and onsite lab and diagnostic testing for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. As demand grew due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dhaliwal opened a second location. In total, the facilities serve around 2,000 patients a month.
Snehal Dhruve: She founded Cameraah in 2020 as a tool for most small and midsize businesses to design their own augmented reality experiences without coding. It has partnered with more than 150 platforms and brands including TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, Puma and Fossil.
Sachin Garg: In 2019 he founded the Software as a Service platform Saara, which helps retailers reduce returns — saving both money and the waste involved in returning products — and makes the process easier for items that do need to be returned. Clients include French sports store Decathlon and PVH, the parent company for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger.
Kalyan Gautham: In 2019 he and a friend launched WATT, a platform to organize and remotely participate in charity walks via fitness wearables. Clients include the World Economic Forum and chapters of the youth-led climate justice movement Fridays for Future.
Krish Gopalan: Frustrated with traditional banks’ outdated digital services, Gopalan founded Flaist in 2020 to equip them with the technology they need to offer customers quicker phone support, automated loans and financial tools. Gopalan says that credit unions and community and regional banks are especially interested in using Flaist to compete with larger financial institutions that have more resources.
Reetu Gupta: In 2017, Gupta launched Cirkled In as a platform that allows Gen-Z to showcase their achievements to share with colleges and employers. The goal: to help students create a portfolio that captures their hobbies, volunteer work, and other achievements. It’s free for students to use; income is generated from fees paid by institutions that access the profiles. Since its founding in 2017, Cirkled In has been used by more than 515,000 students, and 60 high schools and nonprofit organizations.
Rijul Gupta: After launching DeepMedia alongside co-founder Emma Brown in 2017, the Yale grad spent three years on research and development before launching CopyCat, a deepfake app that allows users to translate video content into over 50 languages. The company reports having more than 150,000 active monthly users and over one million downloads.
Rohan Gupta: He co-founded A.I.-based app Quillbot in 2017 in an effort to make writing painless by transforming your jumbled thoughts into comprehensible manuscript. With over 4 million monthly active users, Gupta and co-founder Anil Jason have now raised $4.25 million in venture funding from the likes of GSV and Sierra ventures to build out a full suite of A.I. writing tools to help with tasks like research and sentence reconstruction.
Tara Gupta: She is the founder of Anamakos, a sustainable real estate development startup as well as the founder and CEO of Map-Collective, a green-tech startup that digitally tracks and maps environmental data and users’ carbon footprints. Map-Collective has $130,000 in funding to date and is in talks with some 200 companies with plans to grow a robust system of carbon tracking within the next 10 years.
Miku Jha: A former IBM technologist who grew up in a farm community in India, has experienced agricultural difficulties firsthand. That in part inspired her to launch AgShift in 2015, an AI-powered technology start-up working to automate the food inspection system and reduce food waste. The company has raised $5.2 million.
Manoj Jonna: A first-generation Indian immigrant with a Georgetown law degree, he and his two co-founders, Danny Leonard and Mitch DeForest, started Ramped Careers in June 2020 to connect workers with employers, who pay it a fee when jobs are filled. The startup, which boasts $1.25 million of venture funding and offers online training courses to jobseekers, initially focused on sales roles at tech companies and has seen over 1,000 people sign up to use it.
Sneh Kadakia: After Covid changed her plans of launching a luxury hotel-based coworking company, she created From Here to turn empty retail space into flexible offices. With two locations in suburban New Jersey, From Here rents flex desks for $8 an hour, $40 for the day. Those looking for more privacy can rent a personal pod for $84 daily.
Ameet Kallarackal: He and his partner Nick Loeper both had small food service jobs in their youth and, after meeting in college, they decided they wanted to help restaurants, farm stands and food trucks advertise their storefronts and products online. So in 2018, they founded Fisherman, which builds a complete restaurant website in two minutes using just a business’s name. They’ve raised more than $1 million and have over 1,000 customers through the U.S. and Canada.
Asha Kangralkar: She and her husband Vivek co-founded Avacraft in 2015. Since then, they’ve produced the quality, price-conscious culinary must-haves Kangralkar was seeking. Last October, Avacraft was endorsed by Jessica Alba on GMA and featured on local Amazon delivery vans.
Sikandar Sonny Khan: In 2017 Khan, then a student at the University of Michigan, co-founded Paani with other Pakistani-American students to build water wells in Pakistan, one of the countries most affected by lack of secure access to clean water. The group raised money to fund the construction of its first well by selling doughnuts on campus. Serving as the organization’s CEO while working as a product marketing manager at Microsoft, Khan has helped Paani build more than 5,500 wells that serve more than 466,000 people.
Ahmed Khan: The serial entrepreneur is the co-founder and CEO of IrisVision, a smart headset that helps people with impaired vision to see clearly. IrisVision has funding from the National Eye Institute and inked partnerships with Samsung and the SEVA Foundation.
Atul Kumar: Born in a small village in India, Atul initially didn’t like his college options and took a gap year after high school before joining the nation’s top engineering college. And after working at companies including Cognizant, Dell and others, he founded ClickSource in 2018. The HR technology company uses artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence to connect employers with candidates.
Prem Kumar: After spending 10 years working for Microsoft, Kumar founded Humanly.io in 2019, using data to make hiring more efficient and equitable. Humanly’s AI engages with and screens every job candidate who comes to a company’s job pages and social media, which Kumar says increase diverse hires. With $1.1 million in funding, Humanly currently works with 26 companies and more than 300,000 job candidates.
Rajan Kumar: He is the CEO of start-up Ateios, which creates customizable flexible batteries, which are five times thinner and lighter than the traditional design, that can be reshaped around the products they’re powering, such as small electronic patches used by diabetic patients. The company develops batteries 10 times faster than existing manufacturers with one-third the amount of capital.
Salman Lakhani: Founder of Cubix, a full-stack software product development company that builds solutions based on the latest technologies, such as blockchain tech, NFT game development, AR, VR and related areas. The digital products and mobile app development company has 500 clients, including Sapient, Politico and AT&T.
Nehal Madhani: CEO of AltLegal, a trademark docketing software he created in 2013 after learning how to code. He leads a team of more than 20 and serves about 850 law firms and companies.
Manasa Mantravadi: What started as a text message chain between fellow pediatrician moms discussing chemicals in plastics soon became a colorful stainless steel line of tableware for kids.
Ronak Mehta: After writing an educational children’s book about the human body in 2016, Mehta thought up a kid-friendly toy company to promote health education. Her company, Nerdbugs, landed her as a top-six finalist for Amazon’s “Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year” award, along with being named to Business Madison’s 40 Under 40 list last year. Nerdbugs aims to bring awareness to various illnesses by shedding light on stigmatized conditions while promoting inclusivity.
Priyanka Murthy: Founder of Access79, a styling service that allows consumers to discover and shop unique fine jewelry which has been seen on celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o.
Deepica Mutyala: After her YouTube video tutorial on how to cover dark under-eye circles for her South Asian skin tone went viral in 2015, Mutyala set out to “change the face of beauty” with Live Tinted, her community-driven beauty brand that advocates for multicultural representation in the cosmetic industry.
Ananya Pani: She co-founded Adaptive US to help professionals get the core credentials and skills they need to become business analysts and move ahead in their careers. Khandker Ahamed: The Bangladeshi American co-founded Kids Ivy Tutors with Carl Sebestian Dagist and Hector Grullon. The New York-based company aims to help kids prepare for the future of work through mentorship and 21st Century skills courses made available free of charge in schools.
Jinesh Patel: While working as a clinical engineering manager in Austin, Texas, Patel realized healthcare was shifting to an outpatient model and many of these centers may not be managing their equipment effectively. He co-founded UptimeHealth to give any outpatient facility, big or small, the resource of their own quality control department.
Milan Patel: Co-founder and CEO of PathogenDx, an Arizona-based biotechnology company that develops, manufactures and commercializes pathogen testing technology which supplies equipment and testing kits to more than 100 labs in the human diagnostics, cannabis, botanical, food and agricultural industries. Established in 2014, PathogenDx’s technology can identify and detect up to 50 pathogens all in a single test.
Mona Patel: She moved from India to the U.S. in 2003, and founded her first company just three years later. Patel has since emerged as an 8x entrepreneur, starting ventures in industries ranging from real estate to healthcare. Notably, her Tampa-based CareFirst Imaging, founded in 2016, has seen revenue grow 300% in four years. In 2018, she also co-founded radXai, which is developing AI to help radiologists.
Viral Patel: Board-certified emergency room physician, Patel founded Radish Health in 2018 after seeing an opportunity to improve healthcare delivery models. Created to solve the cost, efficiency, and experience issues in the primary care medical system, the company tackles the complexities of the system for its clients. Its technology-driven approach to medicine makes healthcare easy and accessible.
Rina Patel Collins: A former elementary school teacher and preschool director, Patel Collins is the founder of Book Nook Enrichment, an early childhood literacy center. Today, it has three locations in Manhattan, as well as a virtual platform, where children as young as 18 months can learn a proprietary literacy curriculum.
Ritwik Pavan: The frustration of trying to find a parking spot in Chapel Hill, NC inspired Ritwik Pavan to seek a real-time solution. With co-founders Matthew Schaefer and Christian Burk, he launched Vade in 2018. It uses solar-powered wireless cameras, computer vision, and data analytics to help cities reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions while providing real-time parking data for citizens.
Deepika Pillai: The India-born and raised Pillai is the founder of Kula Village, an online marketplace for multicultural products–from books and toys to clothing and jewelry.Gaurav Ragtah: In 2018, he and his brother, Himanshu, co-founded CatalyzeX, a platform that curates this information for developers so they can efficiently execute AI projects. The company has over 30,000 weekly active users from startups and enterprises, including Alphabet, Amazon, Meta and MIT.
Milan Rana: Along with her husband Alexander, she founded LingoDodo, an e-commerce business that designs, manufactures and sells language learning toys to help bilingual parents teach language – including Hindi, Punjabi and Telugu — to their children.Noreen Rana: She founded Viable Research Management, which facilitates and manages trials with pharmaceutical companies, including a recent pivot to aid in Covid-19 research. Since 2018, VRM has treated thousands of patients and amassed seven-figure revenues.
Yash Sabharwal: He co-founded CherryCircle with Ryan Shillington to redefine how manufacturing processes are managed for drug products to accelerate therapies to patients at lower costs. To date, the company has raised $4.6 million.
Siddhartha Sachdeva: Growing up near Delhi, Sachdeva remembers the power in his home flickering on and off multiple times a day. And to improve that he founded Innowatts in 2014. The company runs a SaaS platform that uses AI to help electricity providers operate more efficiently and transition toward sustainable energy solutions.
Akhila Satish: Founder of Meseekna, which works with executives and their teams at companies and agencies, including the Department of Defense, Credit Suisse and LiveRamp to understand their decision making and metacognition. She is also the executive director of The Science Runway, a nonprofit that pipelines some 500 girls annually into possible careers in the life sciences. She also founded CyberDoctor, a healthcare communications company, before stepping away to attend Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
Harry Shah: In 2016, Shah founded OUTKREATE, a firm that designs presentation decks and develops presentation strategies for companies. He has worked with more than 15 companies, including Hershey, Ferrara, Mars and Mondelez International. In 2010, Shah decided to bring part of his Indian heritage and culture to America and founded Nature’s Guru. His company sources fresh tea leaves from independent tea growers in India and blends them with superfoods. Nature’s Guru is known for its instant Chai mix sold online and in 1,000 stores. Mona Shah: In 2004, Shah left her director position at a PR firm to care for her father, who had pancreatic cancer. As she cared for him at his bedside, Shah began taking on freelance clients, which grew into Moxxe PR. Today, the agency focuses on representing chefs and independent restaurants in Orange County, California, including two recipients of Michelin honors.
Garima Shah: President of Biller Genie, a merchant services company which has partnered with PNC Bank, Newtek Business Services and more as it transitioned to automating bill presentment, overdue invoice follow up, late messages and more.
Rathna Sharad: When Sharad, 46, founded FlavorCloud in 2018 she had no idea just how prescient her e-commerce cross-border logistics platform would become. Sharad, who works with direct-to-consumer brands and logistic providers to make international shipping affordable and friction free, quickly identified key partnerships as the pandemic disrupted the global supply chain and was able to scale faster to meet demand. In 2020 FlavorCloud saw a spike of 3x growth in customers and signed new in-market partnerships in China and Europe.
Prashant Sharma: He and cofounder Vaibhav Mehrotra launched Secuvy: a cloud platform that uses artificial intelligence to automatically ensure companies are in compliance with global privacy laws. Since then, they’ve attracted corporate clients including members of the Fortune 1000.
Sameer Sharma: CEO of Sharma Tax, a tax preparation firm he started with his father Subodh in 2006. They work with individuals and also provide businesses with services including payroll processing, bookkeeping and tax planning.
Eesha Sheikh: She launched Playpal to help people to pursue their healthcare goals by gamifying them. Its app uses machine learning to help personalize health recommendations for its users, then offers rewards for hitting certain goals, both within the internal game of the app as well as external rewards.
Rahul Sidhu: He co-founded the startup SPIDRTech with Elon Kaiserman and Kenaniah Cerny, which is building bridges between the community and law enforcement. SPIDRTech’s customer service infrastructure is currently used by 46 agencies in North America.
Dickey Singh: He co-founded Cast, a software-as-a-service company in 2019 to help customer and account service staff maintain relationships with a wide range of clients by sending automated video presentations that use customer data to make product recommendations. The company’s patent application for the videos, which are narrated by a virtual presenter, was approved in 2021. Clients include Google Cloud, Comcast, analytics company Looker and note-taking and project management software Notion.
Pomy Singh: Set up consultancy HipTen in 2016 to provide insurance companies with Salesforce customer relationship management implementation and services. Singh claims the business grew revenue 200% in 2020, despite Covid-19. And, much rarer in the tech industry, HipTen is 100% women owned, and its development team is 50% women.
Navrina Singh: With 20 years experience in tech, she founded Credo AI in 2020. The company helps enterprises build artificial intelligence through software-as-a-service platforms that measure and monitor AI risks like demographic fairness, security, and sustainability.
Dev Singh: He came to the U.S. in 2005, he launched AiRo Digital Labs (a portmanteau of “AI” and “Robotics”), set up to help introduce Digital 2.0 innovations to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
Shivika Singh: After spending a decade in marketing and strategy for brands like Alex and Ani and Oscar de la Renta, she founded Veneka, a wardrobe styling service featuring the world’s most sustainable, ethical and cruelty-free brands. Clients are able to consult with personal stylists to receive a “capsule” of seven to 10 styles per order, creating 25 to 50 outfits.
Chaitra Vedullapalli: She co-founded Women In Cloud, a Microsoft-backed software accelerator and network with the goal of helping women entrepreneurs land more than $1 billion in cloud-based business by 2030. It also runs online courses, networking events and a marketplace directory of women-led STEM companies.
Geeta Verma: A professor at the University of Colorado Denver, she founded LivedX in 2019, an online platform that translates peoples’ life experiences into credentials by leveraging machine learning technology.
Nami Baral: An immigrant from Nepal, Baral worked at Twitter for four years, through the social network’s IPO before launching her own venture, Harvest Platform in 2018. The company offers multiple services on one platform to enhance individual financial health including getting refunds from bank fees, consolidating debts, finding recurring payments and assistance with budgeting.