International Entrepreneur Spotlight: Ranveer Kunal

Ranveer Kunal went from growing up and attending university in a small town in India to living and working in some of the biggest cities and most prominent tech companies in the world. What’s more, he’s already checked off the most challenging item on his bucket list.

“When I studied computer science in India, one of my bucket list items was to go to Silicon Valley and start a company,” says Ranveer. “I think that’s always in your head when you study computer science.”

Citizen of the World

In 2007, Ranveer moved from India to Brazil—without speaking a word of Portuguese—to take a job with Google. He stayed for nine years in Brazil, working, innovating, finding the love of his life, getting married, and eventually trading his Indian citizenship for Brazilian citizenship. In 2016, he made the move to London to work for Snapchat. Then, a little more than a year later, he made his way to the Snapchat office in San Francisco.  He’s been living and building tech in California ever since. 

“Every time you move and jump into a different culture and meet and work with different people and expose yourself to a different culture, you accelerate your process of thinking, cultural introspection, and how you see the world,” Ranveer says. Moving around the globe “changed me a lot.”

Perseverance and Freedom

After leaving Snapchat in 2018, Ranveer and a few of his former colleagues started working on ventures in the next 5 months. They persevered. In 2019, Ranveer co-founded Meemo, an AI-powered social finance app, that raised nearly $10 million.

Ranveer, who came to the U.S. on an H-1B visa, quickly discovered just how difficult it was to be an entrepreneur on that type of visa, which requires an employer sponsor and allows an individual to work only for that sponsoring employer.

“After Snapchat, I transferred my H-1B to my company that did not pan out, and then I had to transfer the H-1B to Meemo,” Ranveer says. “I decided to get a green card because I was tired of transferring my H-1B.” Due to the limitations of the H-1B, he felt “there was no way to start my own company, so I realized it would be a good idea to get a green card and live in San Francisco, which is one of the best places on earth.”

Now, with the EB-1A for extraordinary ability approved and the freedom that a green card provides, “I can start my next company or take time off to think about my next idea, and not worry about immigration,” he adds. “And my wife, who is brilliant, can work and think of what she wants to do with her business, her art, which she couldn’t do on an H-4.” (The spouse of an H-1B holder receives an H-4 visa and is not allowed to apply to work unless the H-1B holder reaches certain milestones in the green card process.)

Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Web 3.0

Ranveer’s journey began at Google (Web 1.0), then Snapchat (Web 2.0) and now is excited about Coinbase (Web 3.0).

In June, Meemo was acquired by Coinbase, the cryptocurrency exchange platform.

“We had so much fun running Meemo,” Ranveer says. “Of course, the coronavirus was one of the reasons we decided to not continue going down the route of getting more users. We decided to develop a partnership with a company that already had a lot of users and continue our work within the team.” 

He adds that he’s interested in looking for ways in which decentralization can help solve income inequality and provide financial freedom.

As an entrepreneur, “there will be so many moments when things are not going to work or things break, but stay on the path” he says. “The goal is great, but the journey should also be fun.”