Munjal Shah is no stranger to the bumpy startup ride, but he’s also had his seat belt buckled and passed ‘GO’ several times in the last 10 years. Shah originally birthed Riya, a company focused on facial recognition and consumer tagging.

Google pulled a fake-out in 2005 when they almost acquired Riya, but then backed out last minute. Shah and team then re-imagined Riya’s search capabilities into the well-known and Google came back to finish the job in 2010, acquiring and all its effective visual selling. Who says all isn’t fair in love and business?

Shah came out to Venice for Amplify LA’s Wednesday night speaker series to summon some startup statutes and we brought home the bacon bits.


“The challenge with following your passions is really that most of us probably don’t have universally applicable passions. They’re just not something that’s truly big, that millions or billions will use. So, if you follow your passions you’re basically  going to be doing underwater basket weaving.”

Here’s an article reiterating the power behind a more muddled path do doing what you love.


“Another strategy is to actually identify your values, because a lot of us have values that are universal. I believe that there should be no immigration laws in the world.

I’m not naive enough to think that I can get every government to drop its immigration laws…but what if a guy in India could control a robot to mow my lawn? What if I could create, through robotics and telepresence and video cameras and WIFI, a way that anybody in a remote place could perform “physical” labor in any other place on the planet? Then I basically circumvent labor laws all over the world.

Controversial idea? Absolutely. But would it change the world? Absolutely. Is it a big idea? Yeah. Is it based on a passion of mine? I don’t really have a passion for mowing lawns or outsourcing jobs – not really. But I do have a passion for immigration.”


“If you take seven ideas and each day work on a different one, I found that the process of having a different one to look forward to the next day kept your objectivity.

So when I started my very first company in 1999,  I quit my job, I moved back with my parents, I slept on my old twin bed, and I sold my car – all in order to fund it. There I was on my old twin bed staring up at my ceiling burning through whatever savings I had and I have to tell you – any idea would have looked good.

Take an idea, spend a day on it, the next day on the next one, the next day on the next one. Use that to iterate through your birth.”

What are your top 3 startup suggestions? Lay some wisdom down on us – we’re all ears.


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