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Creating the future with start-ups

Interviews |
By Andre Rousselot


Hanns Windele: Despite the fact that you work within the structure of a company, you’ve always been something of an entrepreneur… what qualities do you think this requires?

Gude Dasaradha: The way I look at this is always very clear. Whether you are in a big company or a start-up, I always feel that unless you ‘want it’ you won’t be able to make things happen and won’t be able to take things to the next level very quickly. I always feel that I am good at start-ups and the number of companies I have started is in two digits now. I always try to do things in the same way. Even when in a big company, I try to create the start-up atmosphere. Am I afraid of failure? Of course. I’m always afraid to fail, but I never want to be in the position where I will think tomorrow that I was the root cause or the reason for the failure. So typically due to this part of my nature, I am always driven to success. There are many reasons to fail, such as the market, but I don’t want it to be because of my individual effort and so I ask if I am doing everything the right way. If a disaster comes along then you can’t do anything about it.

 

HW: The high-tech industry can be a volatile place and there is the constant risk of failure. How do you mitigate against that?

GD: First of all you have to believe in what you are doing and your team has to believe you can take them to the next level. If your team doesn’t believe, that means you have failed from the very first step. Failure comes from lack of stability. If your team is not behind you that means you have already failed. I strongly believe that if you find yourself losing your way it will come back again. It also takes time. It may take two years instead of four if your team backs you and believes in your idea. So I would always like to work with my team and get their belief throughout to progress to next level.

 

HW: When you are considering your next start-up, how do you select which markets to approach? Is there a specific thought process?

GD: There is an IP and ASICs company that I started a year ago called Invecas. I strongly believe we can bring in the revenues and my wish is to become the number one in the next four years. The main reason to choose this area is due to the semiconductor consolidation. Major companies are getting into the IP market and there are no third parties today who can support these companies. Even if you look at foundry enablement, like GUC or any other company, they have not come to a point where they are doing ‘me too’ kind of ASICs. If you really want to do high-end support for companies, whether it’s Qualcomm, AMD or any other company, they expect to have some kind of support outside. I believe this is the time for me to invest in this area.

 

HW: Do you think that the industry will consolidate?

GD: It will, because big companies cannot afford to do IP development in house. But they need to have independence and we are going to provide that. My focus is only on IP and support, unlike other companies. As an IP and ASIC company, I believe in five years we will be number one.

 

HW: But you don’t just set up new companies and ventures. You are selling them too. Doesn’t that feel like abandoning your work, when you have put in so much blood, sweat and tears?

GD: To be honest, when we start a company, we have already decided when to sell it. For each and every company, we already have the time frame of when we want to sell and at what stage we want to sell it. So we don’t decide about selling suddenly – it’s planned the day we start our company.

 

HW: So is it just about making money?

GD: It’s not the money. It’s about potential for money. For example: Invecas, I didn’t try to sell it right away. I am trying to take it to the next level. My revenue targets are strategically planned and I intend to make it much bigger.


HW: Can you think of anything that would make your life as an entrepreneur significantly easier?

GD: I don’t think that I would manage anything differently. Even in a big company, my style is not going to change. My style has been simple, unique and this has helped me to be successful. The Government regulations always make a lot of difference and it isn’t always easy to start a start-up company in India from a regulations point of view. The main reason for setting up here was largely due to the talent pool available. There are a lot of complicated rules in India and all these rules need to be made straight forward to make things easier for every entrepreneur to understand and move forward.

 

HW: What changes do you see happening in the semiconductor industry in the next decade other than consolidation of foundries?

GD: Technology is going to change in a big way in the future and as per my gut feeling, it is the interconnect technology that is going to change drastically. I’m hoping that photonics will take it to the next stage, but that is not a reality today. Right now the problem that we are facing is that ‘on-chip is okay’, but ‘off-chip is a major problem’. Photonics technology will help the semiconductor industry and I am really thinking that will happen.

 

HW: Why aren’t more companies involved in this area?

GD: Mainly because of the cost and power considerations. You need to manage that and you need new technology. I’m reading a lot of stuff about it, but it’s not a reality today. But very soon in the next five years, it will be a reality. I’m very confident about that, particularly in data centres. Actually, that is what is going to drive the technology going forward. I think that the market is ready and I am recommending two fabs to the Indian government. Firstly don’t do the traditional fabs, as it’s not worth it: do RF or photonics fabs. These can be done with a reasonable amount of money and also make a difference in the ecosystem.

 

HW: What are the recent changes in the market that have left the biggest impression on you?

GD: The internet is one big thing and part of it is IoT. Virtual reality and augmented reality in education are also a big thing. These will change the world. The way we are studying, along with the teaching mechanism, is going to change based on virtual reality and that’s my reading. You don’t get that experience online and with virtual reality you get the experience, you can feel it and you are part of it. Take for example, when you mix two chemicals in a lab. In reality you get an explosion and there is damage. But in virtual reality you can see what happens without the damage and you get to learn through the technology. You can feel it, simulate and this is going to be a reality in the next five years. These technologies have really impressed me and will make a big impact globally.


HW: What do you see happening in the wearables market?

GD: The reason wearables haven’t taken off is because of the accuracy and size of the sensors. Once the technology grows the market will come back. Until that time IoT will become big. Another main reason that people are not wearing gadgets, especially for medical applications, is because of the battery life. You need a minimum battery life of a week to ten days, and if you can get to that stage, the wearable market will start to come back. But it’s not just battery life that is the consideration. It’s the size of the battery also. And then there is the ‘appeal/elegance’ factor, as well. As of now they really don’t look great, so no one wants to wear a square watch or Google glasses if it’s not going to increase their appeal/elegance factor. Of course, this should be coupled with good battery life and the size of the battery.

Gude ‘GD’ Dasaradha, CEO of Ineda Systems:
“Even when in a big company,
I try to create the start-up atmosphere”.

 

HW: What do you think you can learn from other CEOs?

GD: Every year I go on holiday with a group of CEOs and this is a good time for us to talk and learn from each other. We get together and enjoy talking to each other. We don’t necessarily talk about business, but it is the only time CEOs can talk to each other. It means that you can get to talk about things that happen in business in a more informal way. In addition, you get to learn things from people from other domains and industries.  

 

HW: Any final thoughts about what makes a technology-based entrepreneur successful?

GD: As a technologist you have to like what you are doing and be passionate about it. At the same time you have to work hard as it is all about results at the end of the day. The one thing I have always believed from the beginning is that we should be satisfied with a future where we have not lost out on anything. A lot of people think it is about making money, but in reality it is about enjoying the experience of developing the company and making it successful.

 

Quick-fire questions

 

Who would you most like to go sailing with?

Sanjay Jha, CEO of GlobalFoundries and Dave E. Orton.

 

How many digital devices do you have on you?

Around five or six. Phone, video conferencer. Battery charger-cum-extension speaker.

 

Is there a gadget you would never give up?

Yes. My cellphone.

 

If you could be CEO in any area other than high-tech, what would it be?

I’d really like to be the CEO of an educational foundation.

 

If you had two hours more per day, what would you do with them?

Another start-up? I only sleep three or four hours a day. So more sleep would be fantastic.

 

About the author:

Hanns Windele is Vice President, Europe and India at Mentor Graphics. www.mentor.com

 

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