How a Rubik’s cube helped this founder leave his coconut farm in India and get $3 million in funding for his startup in less than two years

kesava kirupa dinakaran

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Kesava Kirupa Dinakaran grew up on a coconut farm in rural southern India that had been in his family for generations. He was expected to marry after high school, have kids and take over the family farm.

But everything changed when he discovered the Rubik’s cube in middle school.

Solving the cube became Dinakaran’s addiction. He went from winning local competitions to becoming the team captain for India’s national team. At one competition, he solved 290 Rubiks cubes in one hour — a Guinness world record he still holds today.

His nifty hands opened doors that were unimaginable for him and his family. As he travelled across India for competitions, he met doctors, politicians, and entrepreneurs, and began to dream big. Then he got a full scholarship to the prestigious United World College for high school. At UWC, he taught himself to code when he built a drone from scratch to monitor the surrounding areas for forest fires. He made plans to study abroad for college.

In March 2019, Dinarakan was flown to New York by a charity organization for a young leaders summit. After the event, he spontaneously decided to spend five days in the Bay Area, crashing with a friend in a dorm room at Stanford.

Dinakaran described first arriving in Silicon Valley as a sort of enchantment, a place where he met founders and technologists who shared his desire to build something that would transform the world — the next Uber, Snapchat, or Facebook. 

“I realized something magical could happen,” he told Business Insider.

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Just one month after the summit, Dinakaran gave up his college dreams, and instead packed his bags and moved to San Francisco. He didn’t even have a startup idea. 

$9 to his name

The rest of 2019 were some of the toughest months for the now 20-year-old founder. He survived off money he sporadically won from hackathons and lived in what he called a “shady, small garage” with no ventilation in San Francisco. At one point, he only had $9 in his bank account. 

He met his cofounder Dmitry Dolgopolov by chance at a hackathon they both attended in May. Dolgopolov is something of a child prodigy himself, having learned to code at age 14 by recreating games sold on the App Store from scratch and publishing them on the Google Playstore. 

Now, a little over a year later, they have secured a total of $3.4 million in seed funding for Digital Brain, startup that helps customer service agents get through support tickets faster. The product they built is a layer that sits on top of customer service software like Zendesk, transforming the software’s interface to help streamline tasks and automate workflows for those agents.

That funding rounding was led by Moxxie Ventures, the venture firm founded last year by ex-Twitter exec Katie Jacobs Stanton. And his other backers include big-names like Unshackled Ventures and Scribble Ventures, as well as angel investors from the founders of companies like Twitch, Mercury, Notion, and Rappi. 

Dolgopolov immigrated to the US from Russia in 2016 …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech

      

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