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Indian techie Cooks up PR trick

How do you catch the attention of important folks in a town flush with dollars? Flash some of your own. And with job done, put it all back in the pocket and walk on. Yashwant Raj reports.

business Updated: May 16, 2013 23:48 IST
Yashwant Raj

How do you catch the attention of important folks in a town flush with dollars? Flash some of your own. And with job done, put it all back in the pocket and walk on.

Rakesh Kumar, co-founder of a little-known Silicon valley start-up did just that. And is now savouring new found celebrity.

Kumar, who is from Kaithal, Haryana, came to the US in 2006 on an H-1B visa, placed a bid of $580,000 (Rs 3.1 crore) in an online auction for a coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Kumar lost.

The winning bid was $610,000. The auction was hosted by CharityBuzz.com, which offers meetings with celebs to raise money.

Coffee with Cook was for RFK Center for Justice and Human rights. The winning bidder and his/her partner would get to spend 30 minutes to an hour with Cook.

But half a million dollars for 30 minutes? “That’s a lot of money, yes,” Kumar said.

But not enough for what he had in mind. “The meeting would give us a chance to pitch our concept to Cook, get his feedback and”, wait for it, “get Cook to evangelise the product to investors.”

Kumar and his team of five have developed a concept of a gesture-operated bluetooth headset — called Karma — that will encrypt voice messages, shielding them from taps.

Kumar didn’t get Cook. But he got noticed by investors and media. And for free.