Ankesh Arora ’09, MS ’11, was nurturing a startup in Binghamton — providing marketing strategies for businesses in college towns — when a new opportunity caught the entrepreneur’s eye.
That’s how his current venture, Mobile Universal, got started. Arora and Zia Siddiqui are co-founders of the company that makes custom apps for businesses such as restaurants, hotels and schools. It has clients in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Europe and South America.
“We had to completely stop the old business and focus on apps because there was such a narrow window for apps,” Arora says. “If we had gotten into this venture two or three months later, we would have missed our opportunity.”
Mobile Universal also offers a platform that allows people to create their own apps. What used to be a job done only by programmers can be done by anyone with little difficulty.
“If you can drag and drop, you can develop an app,” Arora says. “When we got into the apps business, apps were only for the elite. Now anyone can develop an app, and that is what sets us apart.”
Arora credits his entrepreneurial success to Professor of Bioengineering Kenneth McLeod’s entrepreneurship class as well as the Watson Institute for Systems Excellence program. Through them, he learned to not focus only on one idea, but to be vigilant for new opportunities. While Arora is doing well with apps, he’s mindful that the business landscape is constantly changing, and he must look for the next big idea. He’s also willing to share his advice with students who have great ideas but need guidance.
“Students are usually afraid to take the first step, and they are affected by experts saying something can’t be done,” Arora says. “You don’t have to be discouraged by what the experts say. They usually don’t have fresh eyes.”
-By Steve Seepersaud