Rakesh Agrawal ’93
Rakesh Agrawal ’93 is living the SnapStream dream. As the founder and CEO of his Houston-based software company, he and his team get paid to watch TV – and they love it. Commonly referred to as a “DVR on steroids,” SnapStream is a TV-search software that can record over 10 TV channels per appliance. Users can then search all of their recordings at once to find one specific clip, highlight, or quote. SnapStream is how hundreds of organizations, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Buzzfeed, Politico, and the U.S. Senate, record TV and create TV clips.
After graduating from St. John’s, Rakesh studied computer science and mechanical engineering at Rice University. Just two years after graduating from Rice, he co-founded SnapStream with fellow St. John’s alum Richard Kuo ’93. The company’s first product, Beyond TV, was a consumer DVR software for the PC. The company sold a few hundred thousand copies of Beyond TV but then pivoted to a business product for recording TV. Adding the ability to search and sift through hours of TV footage using closed-captioning made SnapStream the perfect device for producers looking to make video montages on shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. Today, Snapstream’s hundreds of customers range from U.S. Senators to Major League Baseball officials. In 2014, Rakesh was recognized for his hard work when he received Rice University’s Outstanding Young Engineering Alumnus Award.
While running his company, Rakesh began investing in startups in 2012 and is currently an investor in 60+ startups across the country. While most of his investments are in Silicon Valley, he’s become more active Houston startups and is currently an investor in Braincheck, CloudCalc, Fannin Partners, Surge Accelerator, and Procyrion. No matter the company, Rakesh likes to know the product before making an investment. As an early investor in Uber, through a fund he is an investor in, he assessed the company’s competition firsthand by driving his Tesla for Lyft, a competing ride-sharing company.
In terms of his academic background, Rakesh traces his critical writing skills back to the AP classes he took at St. John’s. He specifically remembers AP U.S. History with Dr. Cook, whose term papers were a weekly exercise in memory, analysis, and writing. “As I started college and saw many of my peers just developing their critical writing skills, I appreciated what I had learned,” Rakesh said. “I use the same writing skills every day, whether I’m writing a tweet, an email, or a blog post.”