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Sai Gurrapu's curiosity continues to fuel his entrepreneurial drive

Class of 2021 graduate, Sai Gurrapu, made the most of his time with Apex Center for Entrepreneurs. He'll be continuing his education with the one-year accelerated master's program at Virginia Tech.

Senior Sai Gurrapu has built many sophisticated projects and applications as computer science student at Virginia Tech. 

He looks back to the gaming website he built in the 6th grade as the one where he realized that his work could positively impact those around him.

"Today, I deeply care about working on projects that drive meaningful change in my community," said Gurrapu. He has been involved with many here at Virginia Tech through the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs, including HitchHiqe, which he founded in 2019 with fellow student Qasim Wani, a computer engineering student. 

"As underclassmen without cars, it’s often difficult to find rides back home," said Gurrapu. "We spent countless hours on Facebook carpool groups messaging people and searching for a spot. This was inefficient, and there had to be a better way to do this."

Gurrapu and Wani conducted extensive market research and surveys from students to build what they need. "Every feature on HitchHiqe came from the suggestion of a student at Virginia Tech," said Gurrapu.

As a long-distance ride-sharing platform for college students, HitchHiqe was voted as one of the Top 8 start-ups at Virginia Tech. It also received an acquisition offer from a larger ride-sharing company for their ride search algorithms and machine learning technology.

Qasim Wani, left, and Sai Gurrapu present their HitchHiqe concept at the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs Challenge in February 2020.
Qasim Wani, left, and Sai Gurrapu present their HitchHiqe concept at the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs Challenge in February 2020.

Most recently, Gurrapu teamed up with students he had met at a virtual hackathon sponsored by Stanford University to create Tandemly. The project, which leverages recent breakthroughs in machine learning and augmented reality to enhance educational experiences for students with learning disabilities, was selected as a world finalist for the 2021 Microsoft Imagine Cup in March 2021. 

Tandemly was selected from thousands of students representing 160+ countries and placed in the Top 3 in the education category.

The Imagine Cup brings together student innovators using passion and purpose to tackle global issues with tech.
Team Tandemly presented their project during the Demo Day Showcase for Apex Center for Entrepreneurs Start Up Hokies event in April 2021.
Team Tandemly presented their project during the Demo Day Showcase for Apex Center for Entrepreneurs Start Up Hokies event in April 2021.

Gurrapu was the perfect candidate for Apex's Startup Hokies-i incubator, which is designed to meet students where they are in their entrepreneurship journey and is geared toward supporting student-led startups entering the beginning stages of building their company.  

"Sai is the epitome of a student entrepreneur and it has been fantastic to see him grow and succeed through his participation in Apex Center for Entrepreneurs programs," said Derick Maggard, executive director for the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs. "He has been constantly involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem here at Virginia Tech - participating in pitch competitions, innovation challenges, hackathons, and more. He is a stellar teammate and lifts all of those around him. This is precisely the kind of student we want in our Startup Hokies programs."

Maggard said that the future is bright for Gurrapu as his curious mind is something that industry craves. "So many companies will be anxious to hire him because he has the unique experience of building and trying to launch a company."

His first stop will be pursuing the accelerated one-year master's program in computer science at Virginia Tech. No doubt, he will be pursuing a number of entrepreneurial efforts in tandem.

Congratulations Sai!