2008 Forward under 40 Award Honoree
UW Major: Computer Engineering
Age: 26 | Madison
CEO and Founder, BrainReactions
Anand Chhatpar left India for the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 to pursue his research interests and entrepreneurial spirit. After arriving on campus, Chhatpar was immediately struck by the UW's openness toward international students. He found opportunities beyond his expectations and a new a perspective on the world that would help lay the foundation for his company, BrainReactions.
BrainReactions utilizes teams of creative college students to brainstorm innovative ideas for companies. Former clients include Bank of America, Pitney Bowes and Intuit. A typical brainstorm, led by Chhatpars business partner Darin Eich, generates more than 500 ideas, which he then filters down to the most workable ones for the client. Students are less cynical and less constrained by what is possible or not possible than somebody who is in the working world, says Chhatpar. The insight we provide is intentionally external to an organization and its culture, and is precisely the reason it works.
Chhatpar largely credits three UW contests the Schoofs Prize for Creativity, the Tong Prototype Award, and the Steven G. Burrill business plan contest and the UW's LeaderShape program for providing him with the intellectual resources and a plan to start his new company. It was the ideas he had in these programs and, more importantly the people he met who provided him the resources to implement his vision.
At only 25 years old, Chhatpars growing list of accolades since starting BrainReactions is nothing short of remarkable, including being chosen as one of Business Weeks Top 5 Entrepreneurs Under 25″ and featured on CNBC TVs Young Turks.
Based in Madison, Chhatpar still maintains a strong connection to the UW. After all, students are the idea generators of BrainReactions, and he cant think of a better place to tap in to the best and brightest college minds.
In his own words
When I came to study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001, I was completely taken by surprise by this university's openness towards international students. The community here welcomed me with open arms and I felt truly fortunate to find a deeply nurturing environment here. My experience at the UW has changed my perspective toward the world in a strongly positive way, especially coming from a society in India that is ridden by an undercurrent of differentiation on the basis of religion, caste and class. Now, the world for me is full of bright opportunities.
The three contests I participated in at UW: Schoofs Prize for Creativity, the Tong Prototype Award & the Steven G. Burrill business plan contest provided me a platform to grow into my inventive and entrepreneurial self. The activities and people associated with these contests provided a mentoring base on which I could lay the foundation for my future entrepreneurial superhighway.
My T.A. from Philosophy 211 during my freshman year, Christopher Lang, recognized my curious nature and abilities. Instead of simply fulfilling his duties as a Teaching Assistant, Chris went above and beyond and guided me so that I could reach my full potential. He even provided me and recommended me for an internship position at the Concept Studio in Pitney Bowes that helped me discover a direction for my career, find my passion, and shaped my life and career. Chris was just one monumental contributor to my life that came from UW. Even my mentor at Pitney Bowes, Thomas Foth, was a UW alumnus. There have been too many alumni, faculty, staff and student friends at the UW that impacted my life that I cannot name them all here. Lets talk for an entire day and I can tell you about all of them.
The UW LeaderShape program run by Mark Mastalski at the Student Leadership Center also came as a Godsend during the time I was thinking about my own startup. LeaderShape provided me a plan for acting upon my vision of accelerating world progress by connecting the idea generators of the world with the implementers of the world. I also found the right people for implementing this vision at LeaderShape, especially Darin Eich, who was a facilitator at LeaderShape and a UW PhD student at that time. Darin has gone ahead to become my full business partner in recent years for my brainstorming business, BrainReactions.
My current business, BrainReactions, constantly depends on the UW for finding the most creative brainstormers that are attracted to this glorious university from all over the world. I, therefore, still maintain a deep connection to the UW and it provides ample green pastures of opportunity for my business and my personal life.