Sramana: What led you to found the company that early?
Amith Nagarajan There were two things. Early on in life I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I had tried my hand out at a few different types of jobs ranging from banking to retail. I felt that my creativity and my desire for independence made me believe that I was not a good fit for some of those classic roles. I did not succeed in some of my part time jobs in high school because I would get in situations where I really wanted to be independent and use my own creativity. I knew then that I needed to have a business of my own that would afford me that creativity.
I then had the opportunity to work as a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard research and engineering labs. In doing that I gained a great deal of professional experience. When I was 8 my father brought home a teletype computer and I learned how to program from him. Programming came to me naturally and I enjoyed it. I did a lot of it until I was 13 and then I started working on business. When I worked at HP I refined those technical skills to a professional level.
When I went to Cal Poly I realized that I wanted to start a company and I felt that I had the right set of skills. At the time the market was ripe for what I was about to do.
Sramana: You stayed the course with finishing your education. What was going on in your head with that? You could have built your career without finishing college.
Amith Nagarajan I ended up leaving school before I had my degree, but I did finish my degree via some online courses. I had most of my coursework done. I felt compelled to complete my education because both of my parents have PhDs and are very focused on education. I was raised with a heavy emphasis on the value of education. I studied business because I felt that was an area that I needed to learn in order to run a company.
Sramana: When you started the company what did you choose to focus on and why?
Amith Nagarajan When I was at HP I had the opportunity to work for a well-respected computer scientist who had invented a visual database programming language. He was trying to change the way that development was done with generalized software development. The lab at HP was the Picture Programming Laboratories. I learned a lot there about component based design and development. I learned a lot about object oriented design and component based architectures. I gained a lot of expertise in that area.
The challenge that I had at HP, and I would have had at any other advanced research organization, is that I did not feel that they were commercializing what they were inventing very well. I wanted to build software that would help developers build reusable and scalable business applications more rapidly. I wanted to take the ideas behind component design, reusability and scalability and make those available to ordinary IT developers that existing in large organization. I wanted to make their applications more scalable.