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|March 22, 2000|
Chicago's Boy Wonder boosts an ailing Canadian firm
R S Shankar
Rishi Bhat, who last year developed a software that allows users to surf the Internet anonymously, helped a Canadian company's share increase by 20 per cent to $ 2 after he appeared on Good Morning America show and discussed his invention.
Rishi, 15, who sold his software firm, Siegesoft.com, to the Vancouver-based Rocca Resources last year, has helped the struggling mining company enter the Internet business. The Chicago boy -- the only son of his immigrant parents, Srikanth and Rita -- appeared on ABC's GMA show on Monday.
Rishi's GMA interview was followed by a televised session with Yahoo! Finance Vision, CNET and Germany's public radio broadcaster
He caught media attention following the distribution of a video news release about him by Rocca to 750 television stations in the United States two weeks ago.
Since the story on him first broke in The Chicago Sun-Times last October, Rishi has been the subject of several stories in The Chicago Tribune, The National Post, CNN, CNNfn, FOX News, ABC News and on various local radio and television stations in cities throughout the United States.
This week he is being interviewed by Business Week.
"We are obviously delighted with the coverage," said the company's president Dave Hodge. "It's a great story, and the media attention has driven an increased number of people to our website which has helped fuel sales of our Internet privacy products."
Siegesoft.com utilizes encryption technology to offer users the ability to visit any website anonymously, thereby removing the potential onslaught of unsolicited e-mail. Users are also protected from having their personal information recorded by the websites they visit.
"The media attention has increased visitors to our website, which has helped fuel sales of our products," David Hodge, Rocca Resources' president said.
Though many newspapers and radio stations have said that he has made $ 3 million (Canadian) selling his software firm to Rocca Resources, his father said Rishi has received about $ 40,000 (US) and 1.5 million shares.
"Everything depends on how the company performs in the next five years," Srikanth Bhat, a metallurgy engineer, said. Recently Bhat sold his second start-up venture, started with his California-friend Chaitanya Mehra, to Rocca. Details about the deal will be announced shortly.
"His interest in technology is just one aspect of his life," the father said.
A Grade 10 student with a perfect grade-point average, Rishi is also a classical pianist and championship tennis player.
"He is so taken by technology that he did not give much attention to continue acting," Bhat said. "He enjoyed working in his first film but he also said he would act only if he got an as interesting part as in the first film."
Rishi, who is a consultant to Rocca, said in an interview recently he never expected his ideas to turn into a commercial venture.
He developed his software after a math camp he was to attend was cancelled.
Rishi, who turned his back on a movie career despite glowing reviews for his performance in the Hollywood hit The Indian Cupboard about five years ago, says technology is not going to be his career.
"What I really want to be is a doctor, but I could also go into a field that combines computers and medicine," he said.
Hodge has said the company's directors and shareholders have been very careful to look after Rishi's interests.
"We work very closely with Rishi's parents. Even though Rishi makes the decisions, we make sure that his parents are on side with anything that he is involved in."
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