Vasu Kulkarni, 29, grew up in India hoping to become the next Michael Jordan. Instead, he created a New York City-based video-analytics software company used by basketball teams.
--As told to Kate Rockwood
My earliest memory is, at age 4, watching Michael Jordan against Magic Johnson on TV in the 1991 NBA Finals.
In grade school in India, I was a star in basketball, but when I got to the University of Pennsylvania to study computer engineering, everybody was a foot and a half taller than I was.
As a senior, I made JV basketball and watched coaches break down film, take notes, work in Excel. It was not what you'd expect for a D-1 team. A light bulb went off that there had to be a better way.
When I graduated, I applied to Nike, the NBA, and a few others. Nobody responded, so I decided to figure out some way to marry sports and tech. In 2009, I picked up a few Wall Street guys who thought it made sense, scraped together $300,000, and traveled to coaching clinics. Today I have more than 7,000 customers, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets, and the Kentucky Wildcats.
Growing up, my parents were always asking me, "Why do you spend so much time playing basketball? Go study." Nobody ever thought the 5'10" Indian kid would get paid for basketball. But doing this is the closest I can get to being on the court.