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NC State Grad Launches Watch Company Featuring Hindi Numerals

NC State graduate Sunny Bhathela's watch company, VIANI, produces timepieces "powered by light and history."

blue watch face with hindi numerals
The VIANI - VW301-07 in Waterfall Blue, a piece in the new line of Hindi numeral-based watches developed by NC State alumni Sunny Bhathela.

Sunny Bhathela, a second-generation South Asian and Raleigh native, earned degrees in biochemistry and genetics from NC State in 2014. He then set his sights to New York City to pursue a doctorate degree of optometry and is currently treating the underserved community of the South Bronx. But optometry is not the only venture Sunny is extremely passionate about.

Sunny Bhathela recently launched VIANI, a watch company that boasts Hindi numerals, instead of the traditional Roman Numerals, as an ode to the South Asian mathematicians of the 6th and 7th century. This design choice was intentional to highlight the historical impact of the Hindi Numeral System; a numeral system that is credited for introducing decimal-based numbers, and significantly influencing the global landscapes of mathematics and science.

VIANI timepieces are also defined by their ability to run completely off of indoor and outdoor light energy. These key features make VIANI a unique and one-of-a-kind design. Founder Sunny Bhathela aims to advance South Asian representation in a historically non-diverse watch market.

CEO and CCO of VIANI Watch Company Sunny Bhathela pictured at his design studio

At NC State, Sunny Bhathela found moments of inspiration at events and opportunities on campus such as the College of Design’s Art2Wear and Entrepalooza. Sunny curated his extracurricular time on campus with a well rounded approach; he was on the executive board of NC State’s largest South Asian association EKTAA, was a finalist in NC State’s Campus Movie Festival, hosted a weekly Underground Hip Hop radio show at 88.1 WKNC and conducted innovative independent research under Professor Beth Hawkins.

“During my time at NC State, I was exposed to many avenues of individualized thinking and creative design” Sunny said. These experiences set Sunny up for a successful career and gave him the confidence years after graduation to start his own company.

An important early starting point was attending Entrepalooza my freshman year, where I was exposed to many young and bright business minded colleagues on NC State’s campus. This was vital in allowing me to realize that I can be an entrepreneur myself. It was important for a young student like myself that was trained on the formalities of education, to realize that my entrepreneurial ideas can come to fruition if I drive off the beaten road with consistency and direction.

Sunny reports he is working to keep up with the increase in demand since VIANI launched for the holidays of 2023. Currently, VIANI is conducting international sales, designing new products and establishing research on IP-sensitive features that Sunny says “have never been done before in the world of watches.” The iterative design process of innovation that Sunny acquired during his time at NC State has been instrumental in expanding his business.

hands holding a silver watch with blue face
Sunny inspecting a VIANI timepiece to ensure the accuracy in the details.

Sunny’s advice to current students is to explore and utilize the resources at NC State. “A dream without action is just a hallucination,” Sunny said. “When the moment of boiling inspiration strikes, follow it up immediately with action.” 

At NC State, anyone can be an entrepreneur. There are many ways to get started with entrepreneurship as a student. Already have an idea but not sure what to do next? Consider joining LaunchPad, a new 10-week accelerator from Innovation and Entrepreneurship.