So, where do I begin? A cliche, yet an important question to ask considering that the beginning is often the basis for where we end up. As I like to tell friends, I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, but conceived in Michigan. I guess it wasn’t cold enough to conceive, but certainly too cold to deliver, so my parents ventured to the West Coast after spending a short stint in Michigan and leaving many friends and family behind in India to start a new legacy. My two sisters, who are inspiring in their own unique ways, are the two most fun-loving and warm women that one will ever meet – especially when you get them together with my older sister’s uncanny clumsiness and my younger sister’s witty responses. My brother-in-law, a model for how a husband and father should be, poses the logical framework to shed practical reasoning to any social, personal, technical or business question. While my sister doesn’t realize it, I respect my brother-in-law more than anyone in my family. What a great man.

My mother, hands down the strongest and most inspiring women that I know is constantly in my thoughts and prayers. As a family friend once described her, “she had the ability to engage in the highest level philosophical conversation and turn around, walk to the other side of the room, and engage a diverse group of people with laughter through her wit and joke telling ability”. She was a special women whose nature and attitude I hope to find in my future daughter one day. My father, not exactly the greatest joke teller in the world (he often laughs before the punchline or forgets the punchline altogether), is however, the most generous and giving soul that life can touch. Oh, and what an enthusiastic level of genuine curiosity. His interests and ambitions in life are stronger today than ever before and his confidence and courage to tackle new initiatives is something I envy a great deal. He has literally given me EVERYTHING that I claim to be important today.

My girlfriend is THE most beautiful girl that I have ever met and the person who keeps me going day to day to day. She has a zest for life, a fascination with exploration and a stature that demands control and respect. And her smile??? Oh boy … Wow! My only regret in life is that she never had a chance to meet my mother – I know they would have pushed me aside and become close friends.

Now, the most important little creatures in my life … my nephew and niece. My older sister’s two kids are the lifeline of the entire family. Smart, attractive and forming a bit of an attitude. They love their uncle and their uncle loves them. It’s the misfortune of life, commitments and geography that keeps us from our loved ones on a daily basis. I don’t see them nearly as often as I would like, but when I do, it is a waterfall of fun, love and enjoyment. I have big plans for both of them!

As you can see, I love my family … I just don’t see them as often as I would like, but they are the people I could not live without. They were the foundation of my childhood and helped me blend the opportunities of the West with the security and upbringing of the Eastern Community. I grew up with an insatiable level of energy that channeled itself through years of playing competitive soccer across a number of competitive environments. School, well, let’s just say it was a distant second for me through high school. It wasn’t until I started university at UC Berkeley, where my passion for academia and my thirst for knowledge began to form. I loved the sciences and my Molecular Cell Biology degree was only a reflection of my fascination with the human body. However, the underpinnings of my chosen major was more personal than it was professional. There was a devastating situation that my family and I faced which formed a natural bend in the proverbial road that deflected my business and enginnering desires. Business, however, through those years was always my natural comfort zone and has always been in my blood. My parents, immigrants to the United States, took a significant leap of faith and started a few family businesses which were always “around” me growing up. The logic and precision of the ventures aligned with the inherent need to establish the family financially demonstrated the power of vision and acute execution. My parents are supreme heros in my eyes!

Upon graduating from Berkeley, I joined Salomon Brothers‘ Technology Investment Banking Group in SF and received my first taste of the business world. Barry Newman, the head of our group at the time, was a significant entry into my life. He was inspirational and ethical with wild success throughout his career.

After two years, I received an unbelievable opportunity to join the established, experienced private equity investors at TA Associates. A class organization with savvy business minds, I spent 3.5 years learning the intricacies of principle investing and how to engage people through a rigorous education of sourcing, cold-calling, deal structuring and due diligence. I have much respect for Jeff Chambers, Mike Child and Kurt Jaggers who formed a cohesive Menlo Park team and dedicated their time and attention to each and every young investment profesional as a mentor and friend. I am proud to say that I still hold a handful of TA investments – big liquidity deals please!

As the Associate program at TA came to an end, I was eager to try the operational world and pursue my interests in media and entertainment. I joined Electronic Arts‘ Corporate Development and Strategy group under the guidance of John Riccitiello and Owen Mahoney. Every person interested in seeing how a well run organization is built and sustained should have the opportunity to work at EA. Larry Probst, Warren Jensen, Don Mattrick, John Riccitiello, Nancy Smith, Rusty Reuff and many others are ELITE business operators! Hands down, some of the best in the business. I joke that I would still be with EA, if I hadn’t made the personal decision to move to Boston and then NYC.

Upon moving to Boston, I joined Polaris Venture Partners to focus on digital media. I found it a perfect environment to expand my media/entertainment games background into a diversified media background. Like what I found at TA, the team at Polaris was an A class group of professionals that carry unique operating and investing backgrounds that make them ideal partners for any young entrepreneur. I single out Alan Spoon. I would pay big bucks to replicate his success, his wisdom and his sophistication. He is one of the most brilliant media minds in the business – if you have a chance to meet Alan, I promise that you will know a whole lot more at the end of the conversation than you did before the conversation regardless of the topic. He is that good.

And now, I am in NYC and recently left Polaris to join Oddcast Media Technologies as their VP, Business Development and Strategy. I love all things media and I truly enjoy online media. Oddcast is at an interesting intersection of user-generated media/content and communication. The Company develops a really slick talking avatar platform that over 300 large enterprises such as ESPN, Gillette, L’Oreal, MTV, etc have deployed to drive personalization, conversion and user interaction with their brands. With tens of thousands of SMB customers, we have a really impressive self-service, hosted, ASP model for small medium businesses that are looking to drive similar results on their websites. And now, we are finding that consumers are spending the same kind of energy, time and attention creating their personal avatars as they do creating and updating their social networking pages.  The consumer convergence of user-generated content, community interaction and messaging is creating an opportunity for us that we will be unveiling soon. Keep an eye out for Oddcast!

Best,

Shaival

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