Alumni Profiles

Change Does Them Good
If one start-up company succeeds, why not start two?

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Bhairavi Shah Parikh '91 and Rajiv Parikh '90 with their children Anand, Arjun, Anjali and Shivani.

When Rajiv Parikh '90 was in the sixth grade in Goffstown, N.H., he wrote a career plan: earn an electrical engineering degree, a Harvard M.B.A. and become an entrepreneur. And that's exactly what he did. After UNH and Harvard, he worked for AT&T and NCR while his wife, Bhairavi Shah Parikh '91, earned a doctorate in biomedical engineering in a WPI/UMass Medical Center program.

Then they moved west to Silicon Valley, where Parikh took a job with Alta Vista, a pioneer in search engine technology. "It was a fantastic time," he recalls. "No one knew what the right answers were and everyone was spending money everywhere." After the high-tech bubble burst in 2000, Parikh decided to leave the company and take the plunge as an entrepreneur. The question was what?

"If you are going to start a company it should be something you can relate to so you can tell the story and sell it," says Parikh. His wife suggested a sensing device that could help calibrate asthma management by measuring exhaled nitric oxide. It was something they both could relate to—Parikh had severe asthma as a child, as does one of their daughters, and Bhairavi had already developed a less precise nitric oxide sensor.

They both hit the road, although they were expecting their fourth child, to raise money from friends and family, eventually securing $40 million from venture capital firms. Today Bhairavi is chief technology officer of the company they co-founded, Apieron, Inc. The device, Insight eNO, has FDA approval and is being marketed to physicians.

Parikh's entrepreneurial soul, however, was soon restless. He helped a younger brother establish, a website that showcases comedians—including his brother. But he needed more. After the struggle of getting Apieron funded and rolling, Parikh wanted "a company that could grow and be profitable quickly." Five years ago, he launched Position2, an international search engine and interactive marketing agency. Its niche is the internet and social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs (Parikh has an active one called Take the Plunge: Position2 has rapidly assembled a list of impressive corporate clients around the world and built a workforce in India, where Parikh visits several times a year.

"I think I'll stick with this company a while," he says. "It's the first that is actually fun, because things change all the time." And, it has great potential for spin-off companies, according to Parikh: "Wouldn't it be cool if we could start a company a year?"

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