Ernst & Young has announced the finalists for 21 regions throughout the country in its 32nd annual U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year competition with a huge number of Indian American and South Asian American business heads one step closer to become the country’s top entrepreneur in 2018.
Northern California’s region featured four Indian American business heads including Nirav Tolia, Jay Chaudhry, Nick Mehta and Mohit Aron.
Tolia is the co-founder and chief executive officer at neighborhood social app Nextdoor. He founded Nextdoor in September 2010 and also serves as an adviser and investor in early stage internet companies.
Prior to Nextdoor, Tolia was the co-founder and CEO at Fanbase.com from 2008 to 2011. Other stints Tolia has held throughout his career include entrepreneur in residence at Benchmark Capital, Shopping.com chief operating officer, co-founder and CEO of Epinions.com, co-founder and president of Round Zero, and associate producer and surfer at Yahoo. He is a graduate of Stanford University.
Chaudhry is the founder, chairman and CEO at security cloud company Zscaler, where he’s been since 2007. Prior to his time at Zscaler, Chaudhry was the founder, chair and CEO at AirDefense for over six years.
The Indian American has also worked at Secure Computing as vice chair and chief strategy officer; founder, chair and CEO at CoreHarbor Inc., CipherTrust and SecureIT Inc.; and vice president and general manager at VeriSign.
He earned a bachelor’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology and two master’s and an M.B.A. at the University of Cincinnati.
Mehta is the chief executive officer at Mountain View, Calif.-based Gainsight Inc., a position he has held since February 2013. In addition to Gainsight, Mehta has been a general partner at Acceleprise San Francisco since 2014.
Before his current roles, he has served as an executive-in-residence at Accel Partners; chief executive officer at LiveOffice, which was acquired by Symantec for over $115 million; entrepreneur-in-residence at Trinity Ventures; multiple roles at Symantec; director of product management at XDegrees which would go on to be acquired by Microsoft; and co-founder and vice president of marketing at Chipshot.com.
The Entrepreneur of the Year candidate earned a bachelor’s in biochemistry and master’s in computer science from Harvard University.
Aron is the founder and chief executive officer of Cohesity, where he has been since June 2013. Prior to Cohesity, the Indian American was the founder and chief technology officer at Nutanix. He has also worked at Aster Data Systems Inc. as an architect, Google as a staff engineer, and Zambeel Inc. as a principal software engineer.
Aron earned a bachelor’s from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and master’s and doctorate degrees from Rice University.
The San Diego region featured a group of 16 finalists including Suman Kanuganti and Hamza Suria.
Kanuganti is the co-founder and chief executive officer at Aira Tech Corporation. He has been with the company since September 2014, having previously served as the chief technology officer development office at Intuit.
He has also had stints at Qualcomm as a product development consultant, Wonderware as an engineer and Caterpillar Inc. as an engineer.
He earned his bachelor’s degree at Kakatiya University, a master’s from the University of Missouri at Columbia and an M.B.A. at the U.C. San Diego Rady School of Management.
Suria, the chief executive at AnaptysBio, was appointed CEO in 2011 and has since led AnaptysBio’s transformation from its early platform technology focus to the development of a robust antibody product pipeline across key therapeutic areas, according to his bio on the AnaptysBio website.
Prior to AnaptysBio, Suria was at Maxygen, where he was responsible for partnering and alliance management of next-generation protein therapeutics in oncology supportive care, hematology and autoimmunity, including partnerships with Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Bayer and Astellas.
He holds a bachelor’s in biochemistry from Kalamazoo College, a master’s in immunology from the University of Western Ontario and an executive M.B.A. from the Richard Ivey School of Business. Suria is a graduate of The Mercersburg Academy.
Several other Indian American and South Asian American entrepreneurs were named finalists in regions outside of California.
Shahzad Bhatti of Axiom Learning, Dr. Niven Narain of BERG Health, Dr. Harith Rajagopalan of Fractyl, and Shabbir Dahod of TraceLink were named finalists in the New England region.
New York regional finalists include Atish Davda of EquityZen, Rohit Kapoor of EXLService Holdings Inc., Siva Namasivayam of SCIOInspire Corp., and Samer Hamadeh of Zeel.
In the New Jersey region, finalists included Jassi Chadha and Navi Chadha of Axtria Inc., Neel Premkumar of Dyla LLC, Siby Vadakekkara of Marlabs Inc., Bob Shah and Ricky Shah of ODZ Holdings LLC, Ajay Singh of Slayback Pharma LLC, Utpal Patel of Sunrise Pharmaceutical, and Suuchi Ramesh of Suuchi Inc.
Manik Arora of Arora Engineers, Dave Goswami of IPS-Integrated Project Services LLC, Shankar Musunuri of Ocugen Inc.,and Ramy Mahmoud of Optinose Inc. were among the finalists in the Greater Philadelphia region.
In the Mid-Atlantic region, finalists included Sid Chowdhary of Credence Management Solutions, and iLearningEngines’ Harish Chidambaran.
The East Central region included finalists Kumar Buvanendaran of PRIME AE Group Inc.
In the Southeast region, Saurabh Sinha of emids Technologies, and Sushumnaa Jalajam of Softpath System LLC were named finalists.
Florida regional finalists included Rameez Ansari of FieldEdge, Alpesh M. Patel of Benzer Pharmacy,and Rajesh Toleti of HealthGrid.
Among the finalists in the Michigan and Northwest Ohio region included Asad Malik of Amerilodge Group, and Thiru Ganesan of Kyyba Inc.
Rattan Khosa of AMSYSCO Inc., Arvind Movva of DIVVYMED LLC, and Arvind Singh of Utopia Global Inc. were among the finalists in the Midwest region.
In the Gulf Coast region, Indian American and South Asian American finalists included Mukesh Turakhia of Allied Alloys LP, Khalid Parekh of AMSYS Holdings LLC, Nick Dhanani of Dhanani Private Equity Group, and Sashi Narahari of HighRadius Corporation.
Among the finalists in the Central Texas region was Amir Husain of SparkCognition.
No Indian American and South Asian American entrepreneurs were named finalists in the Southwest, Mountain Desert, Utah, Pacific Northwest, Greater Los Angeles, Orange County and Heartland regions.
Regional winners will be announced throughout the month of June with those entrepreneurs heading to Palm Desert, Calif., in November where a U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year will be announced.