Viresh Bhatia was born in India in 1965 and grew up in New Delhi. Viresh came to the United States in 1980 with his parents, who settled in Illinois when his father joined the Illinois Department of Transportation. Viresh reminisces about his arrival in the United States, "Fourteen is an interesting age to come here - where you know enough about your old culture, have the awareness to tell right from wrong and pick and choose aspects of the new culture."
Although Viresh had never even seen a computer in India, as soon as he enrolled in Hoffman Estates High School he quickly taught himself to be computer-literate. Viresh's older brother, Raj Bhatia, a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch recalls, "In high school, anyone with any computer problems went to him, even the teachers."
In 1983, Viresh went on to Northwestern University, where he studied computer science. When he graduated from Northwestern at 22, Viresh already knew that he wanted to start a company. Viresh says his entrepreneurial spirit stems from as far back as childhood. And as his primary interest was in computers, he decided to start a software company.
It was at Northwestern that Bhatia met Rick Harold, another Schaumburg, Illinois native and computer buff. The two pooled their savings of $15,000 and formed a privately held company in 1987, naming it 'The Stirling Group,' after searching an atlas for a town name that sounded prestigious. The company would be renamed 'InstallShield' in 1993.
Viresh and Rick decided to focus their work on creating an off-the-shelf geographic mapping software product for Windows, just emerging as a GUI-based operating system. Viresh and Rick struggled for nearly 3 years without much luck in bringing this project to fruition, but took advantage of a rare opportunity when it presented itself.
Rick and Viresh's break came at a Windows operating system conference in Boston in 1990, highlighting the 'Shield Series' of software tools, so named because the software would shield users from development complexities and specifics. Viresh explains:
We put together an advertisement for our company listing 5 products - three in one column and two in the other. The marketing guy looking at my advertisement said it wasn't "balanced." So I added the description for yet another product - InstallShield. We would have three products in each column and thus make the advertisement "balanced." We introduced InstallShield at the conference in Boston in 1990 and several companies came up to us and told us that they might be interested in trying our product - and found we had a product we could sell.
From $200,000 in sales during 1991, the company has grown to sales of approximately $40million. And Viresh has engineered this remarkable growth without any venture capital funding or bank debt. "Back in the old days," Viresh explained with a grin, "we couldn't get funding by showing losses."
Viresh's strong vision and entrepreneurial spirit have driven InstallShield Software Corporation to become the leading provider of innovative Internet-enabled software distribution and installation deployment solutions.
Viresh has received multiple industry awards including KPMG's "Illinois High Tech Award," Silicon India Magazine's "Top 100," and Ernst & Young's "Software Entrepreneur of the Year Award" (Illinois/Northwest Indiana region). Most recently, Viresh was named a national finalist in the Software Information Services Category at Ernst & Young's 13th annual Entrepreneur Of The Year® awards ceremony.
Viresh is also recognized by top Chicago business publication, Crain's Chicago Business, as a driving force within Chicago's technology arena. He has been included in Crain's prestigious "Forty Under Forty: Executives to Watch" issue as well as the elite "Who's Who in Chicago Business" list.
In addition to his many roles at InstallShield, Viresh is one of the founders of TiE Midwest, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and fostering entrepreneurship. He served as their president.
Viresh resides in Chicagoland, Illinois with his wife and 4 children, and enjoys swimming and playing racquetball, and drives InstallShield success by following the philosophy of the simple Andy Grove quote taped to his workstation monitor, "Only the paranoid survive."