Serial entrepreneur Sundeep Sanghavi sat down with WashingtonExec to talk about his latest venture – DataRPM– a Natural Language and BI & Analytics company, available globally and headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.
Sanghavi discussed his two previous startups, Razorsight and TEOCO, the big data opportunity, and where he is seeing growth in the commercial and federal sectors. We also asked him about the DC entrepreneur scene, his first job at Arthur Andersen as well as the company’s robust internship program.
WashingtonExec: Could you tell us a little bit about your background and current role at DataRPM; what made you want to enter the federal market space?
Sundeep Sanghavi: When I was growing up, my parents wanted me to become a doctor. That patch changed during sophomore year in college, when I took a finance class and fell in love with numbers. I’ve never looked back. I realized how passionate I was about data – all kinds of data – and how important the interpretation of data would be to my future. Since then, data has been an integral part of everything I do in my personal and professional life.
I started my career with Arthur Andersen in Chicago, then transitioned to Cable & Wireless, which is how I came to the DC area. At Cable & Wireless I managed Network Cost for three and a half years where I discovered savings opportunities that amounted to millions of dollars for the company. After this achievement, I then joined my first start-up called TEOCO, and later founded Razorsight.
Today, I am the co-founder and CEO of DataRPM. DataRPM delivers industry’s first natural language and search-based Business Intelligence platform for Big Data that can be embedded into Data of Everything including software, streaming data systems, websites, blogs, intranets etc. either on the cloud or on premises. DataRPM’s ground breaking computational search technology enables users to mash-up data from any source for real-time ad-hoc analysis with the ability to just ask questions or search and get back results with rich visualizations and interactive capability to slice-dice, drill-down, filter and collaborate in-place among stakeholders to make informed decisions. DataRPM is privately held and venture funded. It was recognized as one of DC’s hottest startups by the Tech Cocktail Showcase and is ranked the top 25 Big Data Analytics company by the Analyst One group. My focus at the company touches everything from front desk management to strategic execution to sales and marketing.
The federal market space has always been an interest of mine as I consider D.C. my official home. Although I was born in Bombay and raised in Chicago, all three of my startups have been headquartered here. The opportunity here is tremendous, as the federal market has a dire need to sort through the vast amounts of data it creates to make smarter and more cost effective business decisions.
WashingtonExec: What experience from your past would you say are most formative regarding your current thinking style?
Sundeep Sanghavi: I’d have to say that the most formative experience for me was my time at Razorsight, the company I built from scratch. I founded the company in April of 2001, right after the dotcom bubble crashed. It was definitely a difficult time to start a company, but the timing taught me a lot. Fortunately I was successful and at the same time made many mistakes along the way and in turn learned an incredible amount about myself, my network, and about the marketplace. They say ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and with Razorsight, that was definitely the case for me. I made a point to also surround myself with those that were smarter than me, allowing me to learn and thrive from simply being around them which allowed me to grow my skills as a businessman and as a leader for my growing company.
“We’ve created a computational search engine technology that acts just like that of Google or Facebook but for enterprise data. I see natural language analytics and computational search as the next frontier for technology.”
WashingtonExec: In your bio you claim to have an “addiction to developing disruptive technology”. Could you elaborate on that? Which technologies do you see future growth in and why?
Sundeep Sanghavi: From my first job at Arthur Andersen to my current job at DataRPM, one thing that has remained constant for me is to challenge the status quo with the notion, “what if?” In fact, I got my first full time job asking a ‘what if’ question. During my time at Arthur Andersen, the Internet and World Wide Web were new technologies and reporting via the Web was unknown to many of the employees there. Within 90 days, I transformed the company’s current reporting process to a completely Web-based reporting system that changed the way we did business, making us pioneers technology in many regards. At Razorsight, there were rooms full of people dedicated to typing paper invoices for billing. I looked at the system and knew, there has to be a better, more disruptive technology that will speed this process along and provide more ROI for the telecommunication industry. I identified a new, disruptive solution which changed the way paper invoicing and billing was done saving providing tremendous returns and effective results.
At DataRPM, I constantly am asking questions – of our sales people, or developers and our marketers. I frequently wonder why business analytics solutions take so long to implement and are so complicated to use? Why can’t we just ask a question and get an answer? That simple preface is what led me to found DataRPM with my two other co-founders and we’ve created a computational search engine technology that acts just like that of Google or Facebook but for enterprise data. I see natural language analytics and computational search as the next frontier for technology.
WashingtonExec: What would you say is your strategy for simultaneously managing the technical and the sales aspects of business?
Sundeep Sanghavi: My strategy for managing both revolves around data. In order for each area to be successful we need to look at the numbers and see what areas need improvements and what areas are we constantly proving successful in. When it comes to sales, we feel we have a strong grasp of the companies that can draw the biggest benefits from our technology. This plays a role in the management of our technical aspects as well. We look to the data to see where we can broaden our offerings and where we can enhance certain capabilities to be able to successfully deliver a product that’s disruptive to any market we sell to, and that proves beneficial internally.
WashingtonExec: What is the fastest growing component of your business?
Sundeep Sanghavi: Our solutions have thus far been most successful with Software companies especially SaaS based and information service providers. Our ability to embed as a fiber of their application and services in a very rapid manner gives them Single Stack Solution for Big Data Visualization & Analytics. This core platform allows our customers to generate Revenue in year 1 and expedites attracts new customers, provide significant competitive advantage in their product offering, cut the time to market by 1/10 from competitors or in-house, boost market share by expanding product portfolio, Increase average selling price of existing products and create cross-sell / up-sell opportunities to customer base. We’re also seeing growth with enterprises that server the Public sector by white labeling our solution for a specific domain, agency, and business problem. As of late, lots of Service integrators and government contractors are coming through our partner eco system again looking to embed our solution as part of their core solutions.
WashingtonExec: Do you believe the public sector is behind the private sector in terms of utilizing data and predictive data analytics?
Sundeep Sanghavi: I really don’t think so. I’ve talked to several CIOs in particular 3 letter federal agencies and they have been doing big data and predictive analytics for decades; before the buzz around big data even started. Too often, these agencies are either unable to, or don’t have the resources to market their successes with big data.
“There’s a great mix of entrepreneurs in the technology world that have chosen D.C. as a base because there is a combination of both federal and commercial aspects that are a draw for new businesses.”
WashingtonExec: Would you consider the National Capital Region (NCR) to be a good area for entrepreneurship, similar to Silicon Valley? What made you want to start your business in the region?
Sundeep Sanghavi: I grew up in Chicago but had my entrepreneurial success in D.C. I’ve been absolutely blessed to be a part of this community. I’m part of the Mindshare Organization which is a community of 684+ CEOs in this area that are passionate about sharing their experiences and successes to further build the entrepreneurial spirit in D.C. . There’s a great mix of entrepreneurs in the technology world that have chosen D.C. as a base because there is a combination of both federal and commercial aspects that are a draw for new businesses. There is a breadth of biotech and communication industries in the surrounding area as well which provides a great mix of talent. Geographically, we are close to New York and Boston in a days’ time, both of which are bustling technological cities. It’s not Silicon Valley, but it’s definitely an excellent place for entrepreneurship.
WashingtonExec: What was your first job?
Sundeep Sanghavi: My first professional job was an intern at Arthur Andersen in Chicago when I was a sophomore in college. After spending days at a time stapling accounting presentations I couldn’t help but look at the data and ask questions. I asked the right “what if” during my internship and within 90 days was the first intern in the company to be promoted to a full-time analyst.
Before that, as a child and young adult, I had a newspaper route, went door to door during Chicago winters handing out pizza coupons and eventually graduated to bartending.
WashingtonExec: What is something most people might not know about you?
Sundeep Sanghavi: I truly enjoy working with kids of all ages. I love teaching children why working hard and being passionate with strong skills about what you do is so important regardless of the profession they choose. Every summer, we host an internship for children of all ages; this year the youngest intern we have is in the fifth grade and the oldest is a junior in college. Following the internship period I publish the findings in the summer and all of our interns get extremely excited to see their stories on paper, it’s a joy to be able to share my experiences and successes with kids who have a drive for learning.