Five Questions For … SnapStream Founder & CEO Rakesh Agrawal

Houston—Houston-based entrepreneur Rakesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of the media tech startup SnapStream, which has developed technology capable of recording television programs and combing through them in order to flag specific words or phrases identified by customers. For example, SnapStream’s tools allow one of its customers, “The Daily Show,” to mine congressional hearings broadcast on C-SPAN for video clips that could turn into fodder for a montage.

Recently, the company has focused more on social media as an important “second screen,” as reported by the Houston Chronicle a year ago. The company’s Social TV software helps engage consumers who are engaging with sites like Facebook and Twitter while watching TV.

Agrawal is also a mainstay in the city’s tech community, mentoring younger founders and investing in some of the ideas he finds promising. He’s a regular attendee of Houston-area demo days for accelerators at Rice University and the University of Houston, and has attended Y Combinator’s demo day in San Francisco each of the past five years. As an angel investor, he’s invested in more than 60 startup companies such as Cruise and CircuitHub, and Houston health IT companies BrainCheck and Procyrion.

With the start of the new year, we are restarting a recurring Xconomy Texas feature called “Five Questions For,” with the aim of bringing you the stories of Texas innovators. Last year, we featured entrepreneurs such as Rise founder and CEO Nick Kennedy, surgeon and inventor William Cohn, and University of Texas at Austin professor Robyn Metcalfe. We aim to bring you a different story each week. Today’s installment includes thoughts from Agrawal on leadership, key tools for being stranded on a desert island, and his “anti-portfolio.”

Xconomy: What leadership lessons did you get from your parents?

Rakesh Agrawal: My Dad has always been a disciplined note-taker.  He used to only wear shirts with a breast pocket and he’d always keep a small Mead notebook and Cross pens in that pocket. And on the weekends, at home, he would transfer those notes into larger … Next Page »

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