Ankit Prasad from Chaibasa – a small town in Jharkhand – always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Whenever a parent asked him the usual question, “What will you become when you grow up?” Ankit always replied: “Bill Gates”.
Computers have always fascinated him and he was fortunate to have a visionary father, who got the first computer from Chaibasa in 1995 and Ankit became a part of the technological revolution started by Gates.
Around the same time, the Prasad family quickly moved to Jamshedpur after Ankit’s father, Ranjit Prasad, got a position as professor of geology at NIT Jamshedpur. Ankit and his two-year-old older brother, Rahul, completed their primary education at Saraswati Vidya Mandir in Chaibasa. The duo did not learn the English alphabets until they joined the DAV school at NIT Jamshedpur.
“Adapting to a new language turned out to be more difficult than expected. All the subjects that required fluency in English started to scare me and that’s when math became my best friend. It required a nominal understanding of the penalty, which made me feel very comfortable, ”said the 30-year-old.
Since childhood, the brothers have been interested in computers. Since the age of six, Ankit has been deeply fascinated by coding. They both started with web design in 2005 and founded a small business that designed websites for local restaurants, service providers, and hotels. The small business quickly picked up and started to turn a profit.
In 2005, the average boy surprised everyone by ranking in the school’s top 3 scorers in the class 10 table. According to normal social convention, he too was fascinated by IITs. “I realized people’s obsession with IIT and the definition of success that comes with it,” Ankit said.
He joined a coaching center in Jamshedpur to prepare for the IIT entrance exam. Throughout his childhood, Ankit suffered from hyper myopia and had eyesight of -18 and -19. It was not until 2017 that he regained normal vision after an operation. He couldn’t see what the training teachers were writing on the board and the huge size of the class bothered him. “Our website business supported me with the coaching expenses, but I didn’t like the process,” he said.
After spending a year in the pressure cooker, he finally left to prepare himself. In 2007, he sat for the entrance exam and got a rank above 5000 which could not get him into an IIT but got him a seat at NIT Jamshedpur. He was admitted but still wanted to join an IIT.
“My brother wanted to pursue an undergraduate degree at IIT, but he couldn’t get into it. My parents had high hopes for me, but my first attempt did not go as planned. Therefore, I gave it another chance and got AIR 400, ”said Ankit, who then joined IIT Delhi for an Integrated MTech in Mathematics and Computer Science in 2008.
After joining IIT Delhi, he continued his activity. Soon the business grew and he began to earn steadily. In 2009-10, he worked with several startups. “I was in college but I was already working to earn a lot of money. Meeting professional deadlines started to hamper my classes, but I enjoyed my work as opposed to the research-oriented academic curriculum taught in engineering classes, ”Ankit said.
The success of Flipkart, Snapdeal and Zomato motivated Ankit and he created Touch Talent from the hostel room in 2012 with his brother. It is a global web-based community that allows users to view, share, enjoy, and monetize art and design. At the same time, he began to attend lower classes and could not sit for the semester exams. It was then that he decided to embark on a full-time career instead of an engineering degree.
However, he wanted to tap into the growing smartphone industry and in 2015 founded “Bobble AI” which created the “Bobble Indic” keyboard. About 120 languages from all over the world, as well as 37 Indian languages, are supported by the keyboard. Bobble AI’s valuation was recorded at over 500 crore in 2020, which rose to over 750 crore in the third quarter of 2021.
The app creates stickers, GIFs, emojis, among other graphics, to make SMS more expressive and visual. The app now has over 65 million users and partnerships with global smartphone companies such as Xiaomi, Gionee, Panasonic and Lava, among others, in South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey and Europe.
“People laughed at me when I called myself CEO of my small business at the age of 21. I took the road less traveled and most of my relatives did not understand it. However, my parents’ openness allowed me to make my own decisions, ”Ankit said.
He was on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2018 and that’s when “people’s perception of him changed”. “It was my first recognition and it instilled in me the confidence to be on the right track,” Ankit said. In addition, it was also recognized in the 40 Under 40 list of Business World magazine.
“Even today my mom doesn’t understand what I’m doing or how much revenue the business is generating, but she uses my interactive keyboard to interact with everyone and it’s awesome,” said the dropout. IIT Delhi.