We all have those moments when we meet somebody at an event and think, “I need to stick close to this guy. Great things are happening here.” Whether it be for their passionate drive for success, or for their keen awareness and intuition of businesses, you know you need to stick close.
Such is the case when I met Raj Vir a few weeks ago at the NxMW event in Ann Arbor, featuring TechStars and Y Combinator.
Being just short of his 20s, Raj left his hometown of Los Angeles last fall and came to Ann Arbor to participate in the computer science and entrepreurship programs at U of M.
“All of the resources here at UofM like the student-based MPowered, the great programs, and the strong community here in Ann Arbor and Detroit make for a great combination of opportunities.”
Before coming to Michigan, Raj was already on the entrepreneurial track. Still being in high school at the time, he and his buddy founded RJ Productions, a web-design company with notable clientele in and around the Hollywood/Los Angeles area.
Last summer he worked at LA-based company Chill, where he really learned about product development: “Chill is where I really learned how startups work, how difficult it can be to build intricate and quality products.”
Mid-March of this year, Raj and his buddies went to a local facebook hackathon. The result was the popular facebook app called BuddyMeme, where users seamlessly create memes by choosing a picture of their friends, writing text on them, and posting them to their timelines.
“Two friends and I showed up and didn’t know what we were going to work on. We had a list of five to ten ideas. So over 24 hours we built this. After the hackathon people really started using the app, even though it wasn’t the best or fastest app in the world.”
After winning the hackathon, they spent a week polishing it up and getting marketing advice from others in the community.
“We made it more usable. We started marketing it on H&H and on Facebook and it got popular.”
When asked about why he loves the community here so much he noted, “It’s not as big as Silicon Valley, but the events, like GrowDetroit events, are really helpful. It is really easy to get advice and build relationships because everybody here wants to see you succeed. In California it’s too difficult to get a hold of the top people, whereas here it’s just easier to approach people and have relationships with them.”
You can learn more about Raj by visiting his website rjvir.com.