The Visa Trap 4-22-14
It's a familiar story: businesses want to hire talented foreigners but are hindered by U.S. immigration laws. Former immigrant turned CEO, Nihal Advani, talks with Bill Moller about what needs to change.
American businesses losing out in antiquated immigration lottery
By: Nihal Advani and Zach Haller
Earlier this month, we learned that the winner of California's biggest-ever Powerball lottery jackpot has claimed his $242 million prize. Meanwhile, a different lottery did not get nearly the attention it deserved, even though its payout has far-reaching consequences for businesses and workers across the nation.
On April 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting H-1B visa petitions for fiscal 2015's annual allotment of professional work visas. On April 10, the USCIS announced that 172,500 petitions — more than double the available visas — were received. This is up by more than 48,500 from last year. The subsequent lottery allowed applications for only 85,000 petitioners to be processed.
Built In Chicago Launch alumni: where are they now?
Built In Chicago Launch is back! Like always, we are giving recently launched companies the chance to present in front of the Built In Chicago community. In the spirit of next week's event, we are checking in with a few Built In Chicago launch alumni from the past couple years to see where they are now.
Georama is a platform to plan, book and share trips armed with a powerful recommendation engine. Their maps also serve as plug-and-play SaaS solutions for airlines and hotels chains.
Presented at Built In Chicago Launch in: August 2012
DCEO Announces Illinois Businesses Participating in International Digital Business Trade Show
15 Illinois Companies to Showcase New Digital Products and Services to a Worldwide Audience
CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) today announced that 15 Illinois companies will showcase their new digital products and services to a worldwide audience at the Mobile World Congress. This week's gathering in Barcelona, Spain is expected to draw more than 72,000 people and will provide an unparalleled opportunity for Illinois companies to find international business leads. This is the first-ever participation by Illinois companies in the international event, and is part of Governor Pat Quinn's agenda laid out in his State of the State address to advance the high-tech industry in Illinois, creating jobs and driving the state's economy forward.
"We have a terrific lineup of companies attending this event, and we look forward to helping them find new customers so they can play an ongoing role in our state's incredibly active digital scene," DCEO Director Adam Pollet said. "As Governor Quinn made clear in his State of the State address, we are aggressively pursuing every opportunity for high-tech business development in Illinois."
Best Windows 8 App This Week: Georama, the Travel Guide
Another week has started and Windows 8 readers all over the world have at their disposal the Windows Store for various tasks or needs. For this week's best Windows 8 app selection we have Georama, a really useful Windows 8 travel app.
Meet Georama, a BizSpark Startup Launching from Chicago
Douglas Crets sits down to talk with Georama founder Nihal Advani.
1871 – Our Startup Community Connector
Blog by Nihal Advani, Founder & CEO of Georama
Working out of 1871 has been very beneficial to Georama. Of course the space is amazing, but 1871 is much more than that. My favorite aspect of 1871 so far has been the office hours. Every week having the opportunity to meet with some of Chicago’s most accomplished individuals and experts across various fields has been invaluable. As a result of these office hours, Georama has raised money, brought on incredible advisors, and received volumes of strategic advice.
Community Decides Top 10 Finalists for First Annual Coolest Startup Award
The Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) announced today the Top 10 finalists in the first annual Coolest Startup award in conjunction with the 6th Annual Momentum Awards to be held on October 2nd at Millennium Park.
The Top 10 Finalists are:
- Peter Field Custom
How to create unique user experiences and be a rock star startup
I have been working with Chicago-based entrepreneur Nihal Advani for a while now. He is one of the most energetic and positive people I know. Nihal is the founder and chief executive officer of startup Georama, an online platform that streamlines the travel planning process from start to finish and I wanted to give you his insider perspective on the process of launching a digital platform as a young entrepreneur. In exploring the product itself, you can see how Georama strives to create a unique user experience and shines through!
Allowing travelers to plan, book and share their trips, Georama conveniently allows you to explore destinations, create itineraries and visualize trips on a unique and interactive map. After inputting your needs, interests and must-haves, Georama sorts through your preferences to find destinations that are a fit. From there, you can plan your itinerary, make bookings and share your trip all in one place.
Andrew Mason talks immigration reform at Zuckerberg forum in Chicago
Nihal Advani came to the U.S. from India to play college tennis and got a job at Microsoft after graduation, but couldn't get a work visa and had to move to Canada. Craig Ulliot is worried that he'll lose a promising young employee if she can't get an H-1B visa to stay in the U.S. and keep working at his startup.
Such were the stories shared Friday by local entrepreneurs at a panel discussion on immigration reform held by FWD.us, a political advocacy group launched by Facebook founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg in April. Its supporters include Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Andrew Mason, the co-founder and former CEO of Chicago-based Groupon, is also a financial contributor to FWD.us.
An entrepreneur who ends his workday at 4 a.m.
Georama founder Nihal Advani is used to working 11½ hours apart from his team.
A DIY city guide, a dine-in cinema, and more
New in Chicago is just that: a listing of ventures getting off the ground in and around Chicago.
Crain's contributor Robert Loerzel brings you news of fresh local startups every Tuesday.
Georama: Based in Chicago, Georama.com launched last year, helping travelers come up with ideas for vacations and to plan, book and share those trips. Last week, it introduced a Windows 8 mobile app. “The Georama application will focus on helping Windows 8 users find the perfect vacation for them,” founder and CEO Nihal Advani says in a news release. The app suggests vacation destinations based on how users answer questions about themselves and the sort of experience they want. The company says it plans to introduce versions of the app compatible with other mobile devices in December.
View full article here
Georama Wins “Best Presenter” Award At New York Venture Summit
Chicago, Il. – Georama (http://www.georama.com), a travel planning website that helps travelers find vacations and plan, book, and share them, announces that its founder and chief executive officer, Nihal Advani, received the award for “best presenter” in the technology category of the New York Venture Summit on June 18, 2013. Georama, selected as one of the top 50 top innovators, attended and presented at the 13th annual New York Venture Summit last month. This premier industry gathering, created by youngStartup Ventures, connects the nation’s top startups with an exclusive audience of venture capitalists, investors, and strategic partners.
Featured Startup - Georama
The CEO of Georama, Nihal Advani, says that he's most excited that his company is set to disrupt the travel industry and that in doing so, he has the support of Microsoft. The company recently launched a Windows 8 app.
According to Nihal, who spent five years at Microsoft in several roles, "Georama’s mission is to provide savvy travelers with the most powerful tools before, during, and after their trips, making the entire travel process convenient and fun."
BizSpark: Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
Microsoft's CEO: Chicago needs startup growth anchor
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer praised Chicago's tech startup companies Wednesday, but he said Chicago still needs a viable "anchor tenant" to really get on the map.
He described Groupon as still emerging and said Motorola Mobility is in flux, suggesting perhaps someone in the audience could be that "anchor tenant."
He said Chicago has the necessary ingredients of first-class universities, venture-capital companies and an attractive quality of life, but needs one or two large companies that have "made it" in the tech field.
Bootstrapping with Nihal Advani of Georama
Tom and Tony talk with Nihal Advani of Georama. Georama is a one-stop solution that lets travelers plan, book, and share their trips on a one-of-a-kind interactive map.
We help travelers from start to finish -- partnering with several top sites to offer the best travel content and fares, therefore eliminating the need to go to many different sites.
Georama provides travelers with an immersive experience and unmatched tools to find destinations, create itineraries, and visualize trips.
It was a pleasure having Nihal on the show!
How to Market on Facebook, From the Best in Chicago
Last week, Crain's Chicago Business announced the top social media marketers in the city. Among the honorees was travel startup Georama, which placed third overall in the Reader's Choice category and first for the Best Use of Facebook.
We caught up with founder and CEO Nihal Advani for some insight into his company's exceptional use of one of the most important social media tools in the world.
Chicago's social-marketing standouts
Nowadays, every company must be a social company. But what does an effective social marketing campaign really look like? Crain's asked readers to nominate the Chicago companies they think are doing the best job of using social media to communicate with customers, promote products and services, and find new audiences. Among the scores of ideas that came our way, these social media campaigns emerged as among the very best.
Best Use of Facebook: Georama
15,000 likes; 156 timeline photos; had more than 230,000 actions on page in three-month period
High hopes: meet a start-up that aims to be the 'Apple of travel'
Start-ups in the travel industry continue to focus on simplifying the whole travel planning and booking process. Be it for inspiring travellers for their next holiday to luring them into planning an unplanned trip to finding the best deal, new business models continue to emerge.
Georama Experimented with 30 Student Employees--and Came out on Top
Former Microsoft employee Nihal Advani has been working on the idea for his start-up, a map-based travel site called Georama,
since 2010. But things really started kicking into gear this summer when he invited some serious manpower on board: roughly 30 new employees.
Georama Launches World's First Map-Based Online Travel Platform
A one-stop solution for travelers: Georama lets you plan, book, and share your travel on aninteractive map.
Chicago-based Georama announced the public beta launch of the world's only map-based online travel platform which lets travelers bypass the hassle of juggling multiple websites to plan, book, and share their trips.
Georama's Map-Based Travel Search Service Goes Live
Chicago-based Georama is now launching what it calls a "map-based travel platform." In layman's terms, that's a travel search service that's entirely based on top of a map. It can either suggest places for you to go based on your interests or other factors (e.g. time of year), or, if you already have a few places in mind, you can use Georama to explore things like local attractions and activities, restaurants, nightlife, weather, news, deals and more.
The company has bootstrapped itself to $250,000 and raised another $250,000 from undisclosed New York angels a couple of months ago.
Travel on a Map -- Georama Takes an Interactive Approach to Re-Imagining Travel
SANTA CLARA, CA--(Marketwire -04/19/12)- Today, Chicago-based startup Georama, unveiled the world's first end-to-end leisure travel platform at the prestigious DEMO Spring 2012 conference, a launchpad for emerging technology. Connecting the best content, fares, and social networks from across the web, Georama is the only platform that allows travelers to plan, book, and share their trip in one place. It takes a unique approach by basing the entire site on a one-of-a-kind interactive map, thereby offering a truly engaging experience.
"Georama was built to take on some key frustrations faced by travelers today. Seeing that the online travel process is inefficient and could use some innovation, we envisioned an all-in-one platform that would bring the best of the best together to serve the needs of travelers," said Founder & CEO of Georama, Nihal Advani, when asked about how the concept came about.
Georama reimagines travel with interactive maps
Presentation at DEMO
Lots of travel sites are vying for your attention. Georama hopes to grab you by simplifying the process of planning, booking, and sharing your travel plans.
The site uses a map of the world as its user interface, and users click on pushpin icons to drill down on a planned trip or a location that they want to visit. The company says that anybody who has ever had to book a complex trip with multiple legs will care about this application because it simplifies the process.
As you click, Georama pulls up a selection of your friends who live at that location or have traveled there recently. You can browse through their recommendations on what to do as you explore that city. Then you can click through to book your hotel or airfare. Once you've traveled, you can share your videos, photos, and other memoirs on the site.