Innovation & Entrepreneurship Powerhouse with Karthik

Segment #7 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Now let’s meet Karthik, a 1997 graduate of computer science who was attracted to RPI for its great support of student entrepreneurship. He went on to co-found Vicarious Visions to help bring to life awesome games like “Guitar Hero”, “Skylanders Swap Force”, and much, much more. Earlier this week, I had the chance to hang out with Karthik and learn all about it. Have a watch. Guitar Hero, Mario Kart Live, Tony Hawk, the list goes on and on. Where did your passion for gaming come from?

– You know, my brother and I grew up playing video games, and I used to come home from school playing Super Mario Brothers on the NES. Like, how cool is this? We love to do this. We were fortunate enough to meet an entrepreneur who was doing a startup with his brother, and he encouraged us, and he said, go and learn. There’s a programming book and an animation package, and he’s like, you figure it out. We’re like, oh my god, we can try and do this. And you know, we were working out of our parents’ basement and we started a company called Vicarious Visions, which, because I spelled vicarious wrong on the spelling test the prior week, that’s how we started.

– It’s so awesome, it’s an amazing story. Why did you choose RPI?

– You know, it was my college tour when I first came to campus. I saw the Incubator Center and I was wondering, what are they incubating in there? Well, it turns out it’s a place for startup businesses to grow, where local community leaders and entrepreneurs, along with faculty and staff, are there to help you build your business. And that concept just blew my mind. I knew I had to be here. Meeting these entrepreneurs, seeing them go from humble beginnings to taking their company public, like this is where I need to come and learn.

– So incredible. I mean, the rest is history.

– Yeah, exactly.

– So you have to be so proud of this amazing enterprise you’ve built right here in Troy.

– I’m really proud of the team that we’ve built here at Velan Studios, but I’m even prouder of the ecosystem that we’ve built here in the capital region. We’ve gone from like two developers to over 600 game developers, you know, spanning 20 some odd companies, from the tiniest of startups coming out of RPI to bigger studios that are part of global entertainment companies. It’s phenomenal and it’s a very collaborative environment. And being back in downtown Troy, which is a really cool place to work and hang out also allows us to be mentors, the way I got supported early on. And I get to do that with my friends, and you know, buddies where we’ve grown up together, you know, for the last 30 years and we get to make great games that are magic.

– Doesn’t get any better. I mean, first of all, thank you for sharing your story with the college tour. What an amazing, just 360 story where RPI is like, right at the center. It’s awesome.

– Thank you.

– Wow, Karthik, it’s great to hear about your incredible journey, and hear about how RPI works so hard to support student innovations. It’s wonderful that you are still so involved with RPI. Thank you so much for showing us around your studios. Karthik, that was so much fun, take care.

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