Meet our Mentors

Mohan Vaghul

OneRadio Corporation, CEO

Programs: Advisory Solutions & Labs - EIR Emeritus, Speaker, Team Mentor, Idea to Plan, NSF I-Corps, CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund, CoMotion DubPitch

LinkedIn

Industry experience

  • Software
  • Computer Systems
  • Semiconductor

Areas of expertise

  • Business development and strategic partners
  • Marketing–early stage

Background

Mohan is an entrepreneur with over 35 years’ experience in leadership, marketing, and engineering management in the semiconductor and consumer electronics industry. Mohan has been involved in new ventures ever since starting his career at DEC in Massachusetts in 1985 that eventually led him to Redmond, WA in 1996. At Pixelworks, he was responsible for growing the consumer TV and LCD Panel consumer electronics chip business into a multimillion-dollar outfit over a period of nine years before starting OneRadio Corporation in 2016, a spinoff from the University of Washington. Mohan has a passion for making a difference with a laser focus on a purpose-driven approach to creating new solutions. For him, working through uncertain unchartered waters has been the norm. His expertise lies in identifying pathways from concept to commercialization and putting a team together to build on the idea and lay the foundation for scaling big.

Working with CoMotion

Mentor journey

In 2014, I resigned from Pixelworks to spend more time with my family. I had always wanted to be associated with the University of Washington again and give back my time as I had fond memories of my work with UW during my DEC days and the executive program I completed in 1999. In addition, I wanted to engage with and learn from some of the brightest minds at the UW. My chance meeting with Patrick Shelby in 2014 started my engagement with CoMotion. I got involved with CoMotion as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) where I helped mentor budding entrepreneurs and principal investigators as part of the CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund in the areas of engineering, life sciences, and clean energy. I also helped with presentations on strategy for Fundamentals for Startups. I also assist with other CoMotion activities (DubPitch, Pitch Screening) on a regular basis.

I mentored a couple of PIs involved with a wideband high dynamic range (HDR) invention that was being planned for passive radar systems in UW’s Electrical & Computer Engineering department. I helped the project through the CoMotion Innovation Gap Fund, and then helped spin out the company as OneRadio Corporation, where I am currently the CEO. OneRadio has patented the invention licensed from the UW, sold its first MVP, and has developed a form factor shrink of the design, which is now ready for scaling. Target markets include the US government, academia, and mobile carriers.

Favorite project

Every project that comes through CoMotion is interesting and merits looking at. The caliber of principal investigators (PIs) at the UW is simply outstanding. It is hard to pick a favorite project as every one is special. I have has fond memories of working on projects relating to wireless charging (WiBotic), nuclear fusion (CTFusion), self-cleaning surfaces for solar panels, and wideband HDR receivers (OneRadio), among others.

Advice to innovators

For EIRs: Respect and give space to the PIs at the UW. While they may be narrowly focused on their pet areas, leveraging their strengths and their idiosyncrasies is crucial to the success of the commercialization phase.

For UW Entrepreneurs: Most often, inventions take a long time before they can be paired with a successful commercial application. Stick with it as long as you can, search for the purpose, and you will find a path forward.

On the lighter side

Fun anecdote

During the early penniless days of OneRadio, there was total joy in going to the RAM Restaurant & Brewery at University Village for a company Christmas dinner and splurging on beer and food. This tradition continues, although with a little more money in hand and more people to celebrate with, and will resume post pandemic!

Role models

At a professional level, it would have to be Steve Jobs. I worship everything he stood for and more. At a more personal level, there are many whom I admire, especially within my family. My uncle, Bala Banian, has been a source of inspiration to me since my school days — he planted the seed of innovation and creativity in me.

More about me

I love to spend time with my family, enjoy traveling, and am an avid runner. I am the current president of People for Progress in India (PPI), a charitable organization helping to uplift the underprivileged in India through funding sustainable projects. I never miss the chance for a good read, especially when it comes to business, religious philosophies, and history.