In your career you’ve ran and worked with dozens of tech startups – it’s not a small feat.
How do you juggle your resources in meeting the demand of your startups?
It would be impossible without a great team. The key is to find individuals with passion and focus, who know what needs to be done and won’t stop until they have results in hand. When you have the right team, with the right focus, you don’t need to juggle, you let them lead and I can turn my attention to finding the next hill to take.
When did your serial entrepreneurial journey actually begin? Please share your journey a bit in details.
I started as a software designer writing operating systems for computers. But saw massive opportunities in what was happening with evolution of technologies, rising network speeds and miniaturization. Before I knew it, my wife and I were building single chip PC’s in our basement. But, I yearned for more something truly disruptive and transformational. We then started targeting acquisitions of undernourished technology arms of large enterprises in transmission of voice, video, and data. Our strategy to buy successful networking companies and combine their technologies to build large systems for telcos, cable companies and businesses paid off. We were first to market to provide disruptive technology to cable companies so they can for the first time have scalable bandwidth to carry content, voice, and data. It disrupted the hold of telephone companies on voice and data. It changed the industry forever with cost of voice and data fell to pennies from dollars. The business landscape changed to – instead of people going to work for the first time people could work from home or another continent.
We got lucky too. We were one of the 1st companies to build systems on silicon by packaging technologies into small silicon chip. We believed if the cost was low enough, companies would like to put intelligence in all parts of their business and home environment. Today, whether you are watching a movie or making a voice or IP call or talking to your printer, chances are high that our patented technology is playing some small role in it.
What’s next in your journey?
In 2001, we launched HandsOn Ventures to deploy our next strategy – Reverse migration: disrupt the migration of work moving to global locations, in part due to the abundance of bandwidth and also due to lowering of transmission cost, by injecting technology to automate.
As a result of this strategy, today we have almost a billion in revenue and over 16,000 employees in mission critical areas of banks, healthcare, insurance industries where with automation enabled with analytics, we thrive in complex environments where people and technology deal with transformation of the analog world into the digital world.
Please share one advice for budding tech startup founders out there
How about one of my favorite quotes:
“Great heights reached were not attained by sudden flight, but while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the night”
And one by Andy Grove “Only the Paranoid survive”.
Take your pick, they do work well together.
Where did the idea for HGM come from?
As the name HandsOn implies, we have our sleeves rolled up in the trenches
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day is a new adventure. When I’m not traveling, I typically get up around 4 am, connect with my colleagues around the world, get on my rowing machine for some exercise and some time to think before the daily buzz starts. Starting the day with a precise strategy drives execution of the most important productivity.
How do you bring ideas to life?
A good team, rapid development, and launching with something we can start using so we can iterate rather than waiting for perfection and being late.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Natural language processing and machine learning. Building systems that continuously improve and create new rules to tune recognition, drive quality and smoothly interact with human language creates a force multiplier of any workforce with massive potential in numerous applications.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Applying what you believe in. I try to look back at my failures, remind myself that I am not always right and win with the army you have not the army you want. The speed at which our world and we are changing and adapting is rising at the greatest rate, so reading and watching point casted content is a great way to keep you plugged in.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be very selective in the people you work with. A good team makes or breaks a project. Learn from mistakes, don’t be afraid of failure, have faith in yourself and your team. In challenging times this will serve you well and in good times, it will propel one to new heights. I believe in building up credit in good times and it will come in handy in low times.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Your colleagues and customers have to buy into your vision. So it has to be simple and easy to digest. But yet transformational such that your customers sign up to go with you to a dream destination. Include skepticism and failure as your friend to make it more human. I tell my colleagues “use iterative feedback to make our strategy and outcome balanced”.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought these cheap glasses for about $40 that wrap around your neck and connect with a magnet over your nose, so you can pop them on/off in half a second. Pure genius. Changed my life.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use so many, naming one would be a dis-service to many other good ones. I believe we have a lot to learn from history and our primal behavior. My wife, the smartest person I have ever met, challenged us a few years ago into building one of the most challenging platforms. General Sun Tzu, my favorite general’s 14th rule, my version of it “you can forecast victory or defeat based on history and considering all available information”. We launched a company called Rule 14 on this patented design. It uses math to adapt in real time by mining data. Although we are a supplier of technology an example of its application would be driverless or drones for traveling. Get ready as I believe we are moving into the world improved by artificial intelligence and we want to play a part in it.