Dr. Ved Prakash wants to lead a tension free and meaningful life and help others do the same. He believes in freedom, family time, travel and positive global impact. Despite having a humble beginning, he is a big dreamer and he strives to bring ideas to reality for the benefit of the society. Completing most of his education in India is very thankful to his well-wishers for creating a thriving environment for his growth and the critics for challenging him at various stages of his life. He finished his PhD in the field of nanotechnology and its biomedical applications from the University of Chicago and currently works as a Research scientist at the University of Texas, Dallas. In parallel to his full time career as a scientist, he puts in extra hours to become an entrepreneur and runs two companies, which are currently operational in four countries. His first business is in the field of entrepreneurship education ensuring the next generation of entrepreneurs do not have to struggle similarly to bring their ideas to reality. His second business is into health consulting so that people can lead a well-balanced life and stay away from chronic lifestyle disorders. Outside of that, he works with aspiring entrepreneurs to build their ideal future on similar lines.
I have always believed that we all possess seeds of greatness within us and ideas which we want to bring into reality. Right from my childhood days, I saw that a lot of good talent amongst my peers was being wasted because of lack of exposure, mentorship/guidance, funding, etc. I wanted to change the scenario whilst leading a stress-free life. After three decades of hard work, presently I am an entrepreneur by mindset, scientist by training, optimistic by nature and philanthropist at heart. I believe the best gift that I can give someone is myself and that’s what I ought to give you in the coming paragraphs.
I currently work as a Research scientist and Entrepreneur in the field of Entrepreneurship Education and Health consulting. Outside of that, I work with aspiring entrepreneurs to build their ideal future on similar lines. Apparently, my journey was not always a smooth sail, lots of moments of struggles and failures were involved. Each experience prepared me better for my next step.
Each experience prepared me better for my next step.
Born and raised in a small town in Ranchi, India to my father, a motorbike mechanic, I had a humble beginning with limited exposure to the outside world. My father is very good at jugaad (innovative low-cost solution). This inspired me to start building things from early on at a low-cost. I would spend hours in my backyard building various projects and as a result, I would not pay much attention in school. My elder brother was an outstanding student (he is an IITian) and I would stand out of the class. I was planning to open an electrical shop after 10th grade because I felt that I had studied enough. Thankfully, my mother and brother helped me realize that I had potential to do more. I followed the general advice of enrolling to a good school, getting a good degree and a good job. Looking at my knack to build things, my teachers and relatives suggested that I become a scientist.
Through consistent and persistent efforts, I was qualified to study as the first batch of students at NISER, Bhubaneswar on full scholarship. Even though there was no building, faculty or director, I joined NISER because I was being paid to study and at the same time, I was getting a chance to be part of the creation of an elite institute. Previously, I liked physics a lot but with time, I got fascinated by chemistry seeing that there were a lot more possibilities of practical applications. Meanwhile, I observed that the instruments that were being bought at NISER were pretty expensive. That motivated me to build a cost effective instrument. Carrying forward the idea during my first year summer break, with the help of a few people, I built a centrifuge using a scooter engine from the junkyard. Lacking proper guidance, it never went beyond prototype but I did learn a lot because of failure. I was made fun of and told to leave science instead to become an engineer. I chose not to listen to them and with determination built a small electronics lab in my room itself. During the next few years, I happened to engage in lots of student leadership activities, which helped me, understand, if I wanted to get something done, it can be done effectively with a high quality team of people. When I graduated from NISER and appeared for PhD interviews, the two factors that separated me from other candidates were one being my leadership qualities and other my ability to build things. Although I could not appear for the GRE because I did not have a passport, I qualified to pursue PhD in top four colleges in India.
I chose to pursue a PhD at NCBS, TIFR in the field of Nanotechnology and its biomedical applications, clinical diagnostics and drug discovery. Prior to joining the lab, I was warned that it is going to be a tough transition for me but I took the path anyway as I knew that nothing big has been accomplished by doing things in our comfort zone. During the 3rd year of my PhD, my lab moved from India to the University of Chicago expecting we could find more collaborations and start a company to commercialize our ideas. During that period, I did manage to publish four high impact factor papers (two of them in Nature Nanotech, one in Angew Chemie and one in Chemical Science) and also filed a patent, but I realized that it will take 15-20 years to be of practical benefit. In hindsight, I realize that the people who gave me advice to become a scientist had a good intent but they had never created that impact I was looking to create. My journey so far gave me a good start but I felt it was not the best path, as I did not see any of my seniors living the ideal well-balanced and meaningful life that I wanted to live.
By networking with many successful people, I understood that the true meaning of success is about how many people are living a better life because of our efforts. One of my seniors saw potential in me and introduced me to a successful entrepreneur who was already living the ideal stress-free and meaningful life that I always wanted to live. Hence, I worked hard to earn his time and with his mentorship, I was able to gain some basic entrepreneurial experience by working with him on his projects similar to gaining research experience during my PhD. Even though I had no business doing business, I pursued this direction because it could produce the life I have always wanted to live. Few years of consistent and persistent hard work allowed me to be in a position where in parallel to my primary career as a researcher, I currently run two debt-free and profitable companies in health and entrepreneurship education in four countries. My goal, in next 10 years is to help at least 10 more people having the vision to accomplish similar outcomes resulting together a positive global impact.
I was building the centrifuge in 1st year of my undergrad.
Edited by: Nikita Nimbark