As a youth, Nandeet Mehta was exposed to entrepreneurship by his father, who owned a pool & spa supply store, but Nandeet felt he wanted to become a doctor. After starting college in a pre-med program, Nandeet felt an increasing pull to go into business, but as the son of hard-working Indian immigrants, he wasn’t the type to make a radical change without doing plenty of research. So, he not only started a business, but also created a series of internships for himself that would provide the skills he felt he needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
HatchPad: You are a student at UCLA and also an entrepreneur. Tell me about your company.
Nandeet Mehta: Pyur Solutions produces natural pest-control solutions. They are all plant-based and 100% biodegradable, leaving no synthetic runoffs or waste behind.
I grew up in a small farming town in eastern California, and I used to work a lot in the garden with my mom. One day she sent me to the [home improvement store] for organic pesticide. It cost $30 for a quart, and it was 99% water. I also noticed that nothing was crop-specific or pest-specific. I knew Americans were demanding organic and sustainable products, and I knew there was also a big market in agriculture because of where I grew up.
Because I was a pre-med student, I was taking classes that gave me the basics in chemistry. I did some research and found some academic studies where essential oils were found to be effective in pest control. In 2014, I started working on formulations, mixing things in my kitchen. My balcony was full of all kinds of plants. I would test formulas, literally through trial and error, until I found something that would kill pests but wouldn’t kill the plants.
When I founded Pyur Solutions in 2015, I had a whole line of nontoxic, plant-based, biodegradable solutions for agriculture and the home. Since then, we have been doing crop trials with various farmers, and because my company is working with pesticides, we have a bunch of regulatory hurdles to get through.
Pyur Solutions won best UCLA startup for 2016 in Mark Cuban‘s college startup competition called Recess. This summer, we will start selling, first though a crowdfunding campaign and then live on our website. We have already had offers [of funding] from some angel investors and venture capital (VC) firms, but we won’t be raising a round until the fall, most probably.
HatchPad: What was it like juggling college, your own business and other activities?
Nandeet Mehta: I graduated this spring from UCLA, but I will be a part-time student, while working full time, over the course of the next year. I find that being a student gets me into a lot of useful places. I majored in history, minored in both entrepreneurship and global studies, and continued fulfilling pre-med requirements. In addition, I tried to take more than one internship at a time to ensure that I have [the underlying skill sets] to fund, build, and run a successful business. I have also done some writing on venture capital for publications such as TechCrunch.
Last June, I cofounded Prototype Capital, a student-run VC fund that we will be incorporating this year. We have teams on 10 campuses, and we are expanding to bring six more campuses in. Our teams meet with student-run startups on their respective universities, and we take part in a variety of competitions where we can identify [promising] early-stage student businesses. We do not fund any startups yet, but we are currently raising capital to start investing through $5,000 to $25,000 notes.
On campus, I also run a student group called Venture: The Entrepreneurial Society. We stand for the crossdisciplinary promotion of innovation and progress at UCLA. Our goal is to deliver you the assets and expertise necessary to transform your ideas into existence, regardless of your major or career plans, and to inspire social and professional activity between you and the greater entrepreneurial community.
Last quarter, I also co-created and co-taught an accredited course at UCLA titled Self-Innovation Labs with the chief cognitive scientist/head of behavioral sciences at @WalmartLabs.
Another one of my passions is health and fitness. I’m part of what’s called the Healthy Campus Initiative at UCLA and have been writing about this topic for The Huffington Post. We fund all sorts of initiatives to promote health, fitness, and healthy minds, and we are also conducting studies that we hope will be published in peer-reviewed journals. Personally, I start every morning with 30 minutes to an hour of yoga and meditation, followed by about 45 minutes of working out and body exercises. I couldn’t do everything I do if I wasn’t doing yoga and the daily workouts.
HatchPad: How did you get into entrepreneurship?
NM: After my first year at UCLA, I decided I wanted to pursue business. I was raised to research things carefully before making a move, and I saw doing a startup as my way into business. I felt that if I wanted to have a startup, I was probably going to have to raise capital, so I wanted to understand how the VC system works. At one of my classes, a partner at the Space Angels Network came to speak. I got an internship there. Later, tech entrepreneur Mike Jones came to speak at UCLA, and I told him about the solutions I had created for natural pest control. I said I wanted to garner experiences and mentorship before starting my own company. A month later, I started an internship at his company Science Inc. From there, I went over to Anthos Capital, where I am now an associate.
Spending the past four years in the VC space has taught me a lot about what is necessary in developing a company of any nature. Beyond that, I’ve learned the basics about which metrics a variety of VCs are looking for, how to valuate a company, and so forth.
Pyur Solutions At A Glance
Name of Business: Pyur Solutions
Founder: Nandeet Mehta
Business Type: Manufactoring/ Pyur Solutions produces Non-toxic, biodegradable plant based materials
Age of founder: 22
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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