ALOK RISHI: INCEPTION TO ACQUISITION
What does it take to be an entrepreneur? Dedication, timing, sacrifice—lots of sacrifice, but most importantly, the right support!
Alok Rishi (MS '09) always dreamed of attending Carnegie Mellon University. He knew of CMU's reputation for excellence in artificial intelligence and robotics. However, due to his career and location on the west coast, the dream to attend CMU went unfulfilled for many years. He continued to work and build his career in the software industry for more than 20 years. Although he thought he was finished with academics, much to his surprise, he discovered CMU Silicon Valley and made the decision to join the MS in Software Management program in the Fall of 2007.
Rishi says, "I did not enter the program with any preconceived notion of being an entrepreneur; however, the practical nature of the courses allowed me to see that it was possible to create a real product and helped me envision starting a company. In my position at a large IT systems company, I was involved in producing complicated technologies to sell to other large organizations. During my time at CMU, I began to notice that the cloud movement was taking hold and I became curious about how it could be utilized within an enterprise moving forward. The consumer world had already embraced it."
Technology was moving from the brick and mortar realm where one purchased shrink-wrapped software to an internet-based software-as-a-service. Rishi was interested in how this new venue could benefit large enterprises such as his employer. "The courses at CMUSV offered a means to conduct focused research on segment markets, produce competitive analyses, all while going to school. It helped me to organize my thoughts, and mid-way into the program, I was already formalizing and idea for a company and developing a prototype," explains Rishi.
By the end of the summer in 2009, Yun Teq, a provider of cloud orchestration software for public and private clouds, was born. Yun Teq allowed larger enterprises to create their own "cloud." In a typical enterprise setting, allocating the physical hardware necessary for launching business applications can take weeks or even months. According to Rishi, "The software developed by Yun Teq takes the hardware; computers, network devices, storage equipment; and turns it into a virtual world, or the cloud. This allows the enterprise to request resources that can then be provisioned in seconds." IT resources can simply be served as flexible services on demand over the internet. Businesses can focus on their core competency rather than spend enormous sums of money and time, maintaining their own IT infrastructure.
Once Yun Teq was launched, it gained the interest of companies that produced hardware and software needed to build clouds. Coraid, who offers an inventive cloud storage solution for enterprise and federal clouds, became interested in the software developed at Inteq. In a recent press release, Kevin Brown, CEO of Coraid stated, "Modern data centers are moving to automated cloud architectures, but legacy storage lacks the flexibility and scalability to get there."
The acquisition of Yun Teq provides Coraid with the software to make it simple, allowing for the instantaneous provision of storage. According to Rishi, "The partnership makes Coraid very attractive because it can basically provide storage on tap, easy to consume, with fully automated management."
Gaining the software was one step in the process. Coraid also needed the innovators behind the software to build out the combined product vision. Therefore, the team and talent were a crucial piece of the acquisition. Rishi says, "It was exciting for the team to be able to tap into the added resources of Coraid. The team is now able to grow and hire additional team members to accelerate the product roadmap and offer much higher levels of quality and support to our customers. We were very impressed with the track record of the Coraid executives, board, and venture firms funding the company. Coraid recently closed another round of funding at $50M. In this short time on board, it feels like we made the right decision to jump off our raft and onto a speedboat."
Rishi has experienced the ups and downs of entrepreneurship first hand. He fully embraced the challenge even giving up his job security to risk the venture. His advice to others, especially CMU students and alumni is, "The importance of maintaining the relationships with the CMU faculty proved crucial to our success. It was a surreal experience for me; to think that even after graduating, I could reach out to the CMUSV community and receive continuous support for our start-up. Without these relationships, I am convinced that our idea would have fizzled."
Rishi concludes, "Do not view your time at CMUSV as just a degree! Rather, experience it as an alive and active relationship that will continue throughout your life. The value of these relationships outlasts the degree. These relationships must be nurtured, not just retained as a link on a social site. There is real value to remaining an active member of the CMU community. Come back! Often to be a guest speaker in a class, mentor, share your lessons learned with other students. Enrich their experience. Hire them!"