Michel Kripalani, Class of ’89

It’s no wonder video games still cap the top of your birthday wish list: The industry has gone from GoldenEye to Gears of War in two decades flat.

Just as video games began to make their way from TV sets to computer screens, Michel Kripalani was gearing up to graduate from UCSD with a Bachelor of Visual Arts. He was also finishing up a “life-changing” internship with a local design firm in Del Mar — one he said made his passion for digital media glaringly clear.

“By the time I graduated, I knew what I wanted to do professionally,” Kripalani said. “I found myself at the cutting edge of a new industry. I loved the idea of mixing art and technology.”

After college, Kripalani leapt straight into a startup company that set a swift pace for the young entrepreneur. After two years of designing interactive multimedia software, Kripalani switched things up and began to pour his talents into developing computer games. In 1991, when he was 23, he started his second company, Presto Studios, with his roommate, hoping to develop the most advanced graphics a CD-ROM was capable of displaying.

In the 11 years that Kripalani managed Presto, the team created photorealistic games such as the Journeyman Project series (a postapocalyptic, first-person adventure), Myst 3: Exile (a quest set in Tolkien dreamscapes) and Whacked! (in which goofy cartoons beat the crap out of each other with oversized staplers and grenades).

According to Kripalani, he was never afraid to take risks — an “entrepreneur at heart.” When he was laid off last January by Autodesk — an international software/architectural design corporation — Kripalani was eager to surf the next wave of digital design.

“The whole time I was at Autodesk I was planning my next big thing,” Kripalani said. “When Apple shipped the first iPhone in June of 2007, I had to have one. When they made the [software development kit] available to developers and opened the App Store in June of 2008, the writing was on the wall.”

That’s when Kripalani decided to embark on his latest business endeavor: iPhone apps. In 2009, he formed Oceanhouse Media along with Presto Studios partner Greg Uhler and his wife Karen. The company that designs and publishes its own line of over 75 positive-spirited iPhone apps — his first (and favorite) being Bowls, a relatively simple program that reproduces the sound of Tibetan bowls every time you flick your finger across the screen.

According to Kripalani, his company hopes to produce up to 100 more apps this year, including a series of self-help programs based on the works of popular Hay House authors, and interactive eBooks based on Dr. Seuss classics.

Kirpalani said he recommends getting as much work experience as possible in the college years.

“Internships are absolutely fantastic — they help to prepare you for the workforce,” Kripalani said. “More importantly, they help you to determine if you truly are passionate about a particular field. So find an internship — jump in and get wet. And yes, Oceanhouse Media is always on the lookout for good interns. We’ve already hosted four students in the last year alone.”

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