Akshay Kothari Pulse Alphonso

Indian duo creates best-selling iPad app

Just a mention of your name by Steve Jobs can make you a celebrity overnight. At least that’s what two young Indian students in the US experienced.

As a part of a project for Stanford University where they were completing their masters’ degree, Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari created an iPad application to help readers access news on their iPad.

They called the iPad Application Pulse.

Akshay Kothari Pulse Alphonso
Akshay Kothari co-created the best-selling iPad App, Pulse

The inspiration for Pulse came out of frustration at the news reading experience on mobile devices, says the Pulse website. They developed Pulse in 10 weeks for their course at Stanford.

After launch, the iPad app caught Apple CEO, Steve Jobs’ attention, who not only mentioned, but also demonstrated the application at WWDC, a developers’ forum.

Soon, “Pulse became the best-selling application in the App Store and Alphonso Labs was born,” the website says. Alphonso is a premium mango fruit grown in western India, which is where the founders hail from.

It was no surprise then that Pulse caught American media’s fancy.

“Pulse: why I almost didn’t return my iPad,” said a CNN headline. Fox News listed Pulse as one of the “7 iPad must-have iPad apps.”

Soon, the duo attracted venture capitalists keen to invest. Alphonso Labs have already secured US$1 million in funding, and have exciting plans ahead.

Developing iPad apps seems to be second nature to Indians, as a Google search for iPad applications brings up thousands of results for iPad developers from India.

Akshay Kothari now looks after product management, while Ankit Gupta manages iOS development.

While gaining an electrical engineering post-graduate degree from Stanford, Kothari describes himself “fake EE”, since he spent most of his time taking computer science and design courses, the company website says.

“He is mad about mobile interaction design, thinking about novel interactions during the day and coding nifty apps in the night. He likes good vegetarian food, down-tempo music, spontaneous drives to the beach and cashmere sweaters.”

While Kothari is the creative type, Gupta is a coder. “A true code junkie, he once woke up at 5 in the morning to compete in a TopCoder competition; on a vacation,” says the website.

Gupta studied Artificial Intelligence while graduating from Stanford with a Masters in Computer Science. Gupta likes taking long walks, listening to Alternative Folk and watching Quentin Tarantino movies.

Rajasthan-born Kothari completed his electrical engineering degree from Purdue University while Mumbai-bred Gupta went to the presigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai.


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