|Alma mater||University of Arizona|
|Occupation||Graphic designer, startup entrepreneur, biologist|
Viputheshwar "Vip" Sitaraman (born 10 September 1997) is an American designer, entrepreneur, and scientist. He is best known as the founder of Explica, a digital media startup company. In May 2016, Sitaraman made headlines when, at age 18, he graduated from the University of Arizona and his company was funded by Seed Sumo, a startup accelerator in Bryan, Texas. Sitaraman is one of the youngest people to raise a round of venture capital. He has been interviewed on Forbes, NPR/Public Media, The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and Times Higher Education.
Sitaraman was born in Theni, Tamil Nadu, India in 1997 to Sitaraman Venkatasubramanian, a software engineer, and Swarna Sitaraman, an interior designer & artist. Shortly after Sitaraman was born, the family moved to the United States, where they settled in Chandler, Arizona.
Through his early education, Sitaraman showed a propensity for science. He competed in science & engineering fairs, collecting accolades including Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) Finalist, TGen Helios Scholar-designate, Society for In Vitro Biology ISEF Award, and several state and local awards. Sitaraman published his research on engineered zinc finger nucleases in the World Forum in Biology.
In August 2014, Sitaraman enrolled at the University of Arizona under a full-ride scholarship. Within two years, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology, along with a minor in African American Studies, founding several companies and organizations in that span. Sitaraman would later explain in an interview, "None of this was part of the plan. I was a pre-med student; entrepreneurship wasn't even in my vocabulary." His first organization, Live, Love, Lab (LLL) provided free resources for STEM students including an e-course system, a crowdfunding platform, and opportunities for academic publication. After LLL, Sitaraman co-founded KorkBoard, a digital event bulletin mobile app striving to build stronger campus communities. Following the launch on the Apple Store for iOS, the startup was accepted to the Thryve Incubator Spring/Summer 2015 Cohort in Tucson, Arizona and the Facebook FbStart 2015 Cohort.
Draw Science started as a small blog Sitaraman built in high school, aimed at translating science with art. In the next year, Draw Science garnered over 2 million views, syndication on Business Insider, and invitations to conferences including ARCSCon in Philadelphia and the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau, Bavaria. In August 2015, Sitaraman launched a crowdfunding campaign to scale Draw Science into an infographic consulting business, focusing on academic publishing and creation of graphical abstracts. In following months, Draw Science closed deals & partnerships with prominent scientific organizations including PeerJ, the USDA, and Elsevier. Graphics created by the Draw Science team have been featured in Newsweek, Daily Mail, VICE, and Gizmodo and clientele including Hillary Clinton, American Scientist, and Soylent.
Sitaraman raised a round of funding from Seed Sumo, a startup accelerator based out of Austin, Texas in May 2016. Making it through Seed Sumo's 0.5% acceptance rate made him the youngest person to ever be accepted into a startup accelerator. During the accelerator, Sitaraman launched Explica, a visual news site for millennials. In its first month, June 2016, Explica brought in nearly half-a-million native views and another 1 million off-site. In November 2016, the company raised a $450,000 seed round at an undisclosed valuation from MVII8.
Sitaraman has made several press appearances including Forbes, NPR/Public Media, The Huffington Post, and Times Highered Education, as well as several local news publications. Explica is a brand owned by Explica Inc., a Delaware C Corporation.
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- "Education Posters". In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology – Animal. 50 (1): 44–45. 14 May 2014. doi:10.1007/s11626-014-9767-9. ISSN 1071-2690.
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- "Scientists create software that they claim can measure beauty". Retrieved 6 July 2016.
- "Your 'Microbial Cloud' Is Like a Floating, Invisible Fingerprint". Retrieved 6 July 2016.
- Stone, Maddie. "We're all Surrounded by a Personal Cloud of Bacteria". Retrieved 6 July 2016.
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