The Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Thanks
for his dedication and volunteerism
Ameya Bhat, a 2017 Pittsburgh Business Times 30 Under 30 awardee, is a Carnegie Mellon University graduate and entrepreneur in residence at the Venture Development Center at UMass Boston.
Mr. Bhat is native of Mumbai, and has no Latinx background but enjoys volunteering at PMAHCC events and contributing to a cause that involves both business and a diverse population. He has been volunteering for the chamber for two years.
"As an entrepreneur, you have to make decisions around uncertainty. The key is not to worry about making the right decision but to quickly learn and adapt from failures in order to make better decisions."
While all entrepreneurs like to talk about changing the world, one could easily say that Ameya Bhat actually saves lives. Ameya grew up in India where he got his bachelor’s in Electronics and worked as a software engineer at an online gaming startup after graduation. Now he is the Cofounder of RistCall — a healthcare startup made possible by the GEIR program at UMass Boston. We recently talked to Ameya about his experience with moving to the US and starting a company here.
On coming to the US
Ameya moved to the US in 2013 in order to study Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. While there he got to know some of the best engineering minds in the university, and soon they decided to combine their vision and embark on an entrepreneurial journey by creating AlertCall — an app that helped improve safety for students, and would later pivot to become RistCall. After working on the new startup for more than a year, Ameya faced a challenge — the company was succeeding but his work authorization was about to expire*. That’s when a contact of his told him about the GEIR program and introduced him to William Brah. The rest, as they say, is history.
On becoming an entrepreneur
Bhat had always imagined himself starting a company. In fact, he was attracted by the startup environment in the US that encourages risk-taking and fast failures. He enjoys solving real-world problems, empowering people through technology, and is ready to take on the challenge of disrupting industries that have seen little innovation in the past.
The idea for RistCall was born when one of the co-founders of AlertCall had to be hospitalized, but was unable to effectively communicate with the nurses during his stay in the hospital. The founding team realized that the communication system between the patients and the nurses had not been updated for over 30 years, and decided to pivot. By bringing IoT and healthcare together, the company helps patients easily communicate with care-givers via a smart device strapped to the patients’ wrists and avoid potential incidents. After raising an initial funding of $250, 000, RistCall is currently being deployed in hospitals in Pittsburgh and employs a total of ten people.
On the challenges of being an immigrant entrepreneur
Ameya knows first-hand how hard entrepreneurship can be, especially if you’re developing a hardware device, which is a lot more capital intensive and takes a long time to perfect. As such, he finds the visa extension given to international students after the completion of their studies insufficient. The lack of a startup visa complicates things by not giving entrepreneurs the time to develop their ventures fully. Ameya credits the GEIR program for a good part of his success because it allowed him to stay in the US and work on RistCall. He is especially grateful for the fact that the Founder and Executive Director of the VDC, William Brah, has the entrepreneurs’ best interest in mind, and is sincerely looking for ways to help them.
On choosing the US
Despite the fact that India has a robust startup scene and a large market, Ameya thinks that the US is the best place for RistCall. He believes that the healthcare technology is more advanced in the States, and people’s openness to it can accelerate the adoption rate. He’d like to see the RistCall device become popular on the American healthcare market first, as he believes that hospitals and healthcare providers here are more prone to embracing innovation.
His advice to foreign-born entrepreneurs
When asked what advice he’d give other immigrant entrepreneurs, Ameya says that they should never give up. He views tenacity and persistence as the key to being a successful founder.
“As an entrepreneur, you have to make decisions around uncertainty. The key is not to worry about making the right decision but to quickly learn and adapt from failures in order to make better decisions.
“Any new idea/innovation has to go through a series of iterations (failures) before it becomes successful. The key to entrepreneurial success is to persist through the failures with a long-term view [vision] of building the future.”
*Ameya hopes to remain in the USA working for tech companies and making the world a better place through his entrepreneurial endeavors and is therefore seeking immediate permanent work. For interviews, job openings or general networking you may connect with Ameya on LinkedIn, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 412-482-0106.
University/ Degree: Carnegie Mellon University / Masters in Engineering & Technology Innovation management
Favorite College Course: Human Centered Design
Why did you choose this career path: Passion to solve relevant problems with innovative technologies
What is your dream job: Taking a product from idea to scale
What sets you apart from other recent graduates (a skill or experience): Multidisciplinary perspective to solve challenging problems
Tell us about a cultural experience you have had: Coming to US to pursue Masters and working talented people from across the world.
How did you get involved with the Chamber: Inspired by the work chamber does for Pittsburgh community
What motivates you: Belief that each one of us has the ability to impact the course of humanity positively
Where do you see yourself in five years / ten years: Solving a critical problem in healthcare
What is your greatest achievement: Building a healthcare start up that improves patient safety, experience and quality of care
What do you like about volunteering for PMAHCC: Meet interesting people in Pittsburgh community and celebrating Hispanic culture
What do you like to do if your downtime: Read non-fiction books, volunteer, explore nature
Tell us one interesting thing about you: Ameya can communicate in 4 languages
Portions of this article were originally published on Medium.com at https://medium.com/@ellisproject/entrepreneur-spotlight-ameya-bhat-from-ristcall-26ae077dfabb