Student Spotlight with Rajat Bhageria

GOOD DEAL: During the PennApps hackathon his freshman year, Rajat Bhageria and a group of friends founded ThirdEye. A product meant to empower the blind and visually impaired, Bhageria and his team created an object recognition software application for iOS and Android devices. They developed partnerships that included the National Federation of the Blind and spearheaded a full-fledged marketing distribution program that was able to access users across the nation. By the time ThirdEye was acquired by South Carolina-based TheBlindGuide in February 2017, it had more than 500 monthly active users, all paying $8 per month for the app.

DESIRE TO CREATE: Before coming to Penn, Bhageria wrote and published his first book, “What High School Didn’t Teach Me: A Recent Graduate’s Perspective On How High Schools Are Killing Creativity.” He talks about the importance for students to develop intrinsic motivation for their passions. “You don’t have to follow a path that other people assign to you,” he says. “You have nothing to lose by trying something, and more people should embrace that.”

BUILD SOMETHING: Bhageria is always encouraging his peers to get involved with entrepreneurship. That, in essence, is the basis that’s grown Prototype Capital, a venture capital firm for college students throughout the country, which Bhageria co-founded a year ago. “All of our partners have already been through the process of building a company while in school, and we feel we can really add a lot of value to others like us,” he says. Prototype has campus partners from all universities, big and small, state and private—not just Ivy League.

MAJOR SHIFT: Bhageria was originally a computer science major, but with the growth of ThirdEye, he felt a business degree would provide him with more important skills. He is now a junior in the Wharton School, but, keeping his technical roots, is also doing a master’s in engineering.

STAYING IN SCHOOL: When Bhageria was a freshman and ThirdEye was thriving, he often thought about dropping out of school and running his company full time. Reflecting back, he says he’s glad he didn’t go that route. “I can always start another company,” he says. “It’s by no means easy, but it’s a renewable resource. Whereas with college, I’m never going to be able to come back and do college in my young 20s.”

NOTHING TO LOSE: Bhageria has been a contributor for both Huffington Post and Forbes for the past few years. When asked how he got the gig at Huffington Post, he says he “cold-emailed” Arianna Huffington. She wrote him back four hours later and he became a contributor the next day.

LIFE GOAL: Bhageria says he hopes to one day—hopefully soon—“build a beautiful organization that creates products that have a massive impact” while also “inspiring all the employees, team members, to feel like they’re changing the world.”