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It’s Tough, Especially If You’re An Immigrant

A Slice on Amogh Mundhekar, Founder of Gravity

Amogh Mundhekar immigrated from India to the United States with an airline ticket, visa, and $1,000. The year was 2010 and Mundhekar wanted to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. It wasn’t long, however, before Mundhekar realized that mechanical engineering was not the best fit for him so he promptly changed course, got into tech, and moved to the Bay Area in 2014. Mundhekar started his first company and joined an incubator upon his arrival. At the time he was working on building an AI startup for recruiting. Though that product did not pan out, he was able to experience all of what Silicon Valley had to offer as he bounced around working in a variety of startups until landing on his current venture, Gravity.

“I just took a chance, flew here [the U.S.] and figured out the financing piece after I got here. Luckily I got to stay here, and things got sorted out. It’s been incredibly challenging for me to start companies. I’ve been lucky to have been surrounded by people who have done similar things, and that led me to that first startup in the Bay Area.”

Gravity, was an idea Mundhekar had in the back of his mind for quite a while. Living outside his home country of India, he was passionate about traveling and investing in properties at the locations his travels led him to. For example, after hiking Machu Picchu, Mundhekar thought “oh what if I bought something in Lima”. Realizing there was no easy way to do this outside of the traditional local real estate agent route, Mundhekar decided to create a different way. “I’m focusing on building a real estate investment platform that enables anyone to invest in global real estate. People think that if you come to the U.S. that means you unlock opportunities. In a similar fashion, we think of our platform as something that gives you access to global real estate which is something people do not currently have access to.”

Initially, Mundhekar was concerned there may not be a large enough market for the product, but after some research, he realized that was not the case. Months after the launch Mundhekar, seeing revenue beginning to stream in, was encouraged that he had indeed found the right market fit. Taking a look back at his journey, he recalls having no clue how to raise investment and notes that in his first startup investors were pressuring him to quit his job, and focus on the startup full time, something an immigrant on a visa, cannot do. He explained how investors often do not understand the unique parameters an immigrant founder may have, and that they ultimately want to “stay away”. With Gravity, Mundhekar and team decided to bootstrap, which he notes has been much easier living in the Bay Area. “Here [the Bay Area] you either know someone who knows someone, or you can email or reach out to someone. It has taken me a while to figure out how to get the right contacts and introductions, it’s been a learning process for sure.”

Mundhekar shared that when he first got started with Gravity, that people thought it was a crazy idea. “Why would someone in the U.S. want to purchase land in Thailand or Cuba or wherever”. He went on to add that if you think about it, hundreds of years ago it was much harder for people to travel outside of their country, but now those boundaries cease to exist. Mundhekar shared that throughout his journey he has had to ask himself “hey, am I crazy?” but now it’s a different story, he finds people are excited about investing in something that’s not just next door.

For entrepreneurs who may be starting out on their journey, Mundhekar would say, don’t be afraid. He mentioned how even friends of his will approach him with an idea, but be too afraid to really execute on it. Whether it be lack of capital, or needing to quit a day job, Mundhekar would advise that if you really believe in your idea, and want the world to see it then build it. Just be sure to start at a small scale. For immigrants, Mundhekar has noticed sometimes these founders will wait decades to start their companies. Oftentimes waiting until they are officially citizens (even if it takes 20+ years) so that fundraising and raising capital is easier.

“It’s tough, especially if you’re an immigrant, but you can still start a company and run a business.”

Founder Bio

Amogh Mundhekar received his Bachelor’s degree in India before immigrating over to the U.S. where he received his Master’s in Science from the University of Buffalo. He moved to the Bay Area in 2014 where he worked on a number of startups before founding Gravity. Connect with Mundhekar on LinkedIn.

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