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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Radhika Subramanian, CEO of Emcien (Part 1)

Posted on Saturday, May 3rd 2014

More commentary on how Big Data’s rise leads to massive automation, productivity growth, and elimination of jobs! Exciting technology trends, scary human society predictions.

Sramana Mitra: Radhika, let’s introduce our audience to yourself. Tell us a little bit about you and how you got to Emcien.

Radhika Subramanian: My name is Radhika Subramanian. I am the CEO of Emcien. Emcien’s product is automated analytics for Big Data. Having said that, let me take a step back and let me tell you about me. I am from India and I’m an engineer. My undergraduate degree was Electronic Engineering. I came to Georgia Tech and am Industrial Engineering graduate. I ended up starting my first company completely by mistake because I was in the computational group at Georgia Tech. This is way before Big Data became sexy.

Mathematics is my background. I love Math. Big Data has become a very sexy thing now. It never used to be like that. I was a grad student at Tech and Delta came to Georgia Tech and said, “We’ve got this really big problem. We want to optimize how we assign our aircraft to route.” That saved us a huge amount of money. Long story short, I ended up becoming the liaison from Georgia Tech. I had a phenomenal team on our site and on Delta working on the project. That project ended up saving Delta $100 million a year. This led to the first company that builds decision software systems for transportation. Delta invested.

We had an exit where we sold it to Swissair. It was March of 2001. It was very funny. After the exit happened, one of the investors called me and said, “How did you know?” Because you know what happened in 2001, right? To me, that is a story of humility. It’s a story of humility because I think luck has so much to do with entrepreneurship. It’s something I tell myself every day. I always tell my team, “If you go home and pray for one thing today, pray that God make the timing right and guide you to the right timing.” The way things unfolded was completely beyond me. It just happened.

One of my really fantastic investors was Sig Mosley from Imlay investment. We were in a board meeting and my investors were bringing in money. Steve looked at me and said, “You’re not on board with this. What is going on?” I knew that something was wrong with the markets that we were choosing. I didn’t know why I felt that. I just knew that it was not as good. It was not that I was so smart. It was complete luck. We exited. I actually started Emcien.

The manufacturing sector came to us saying, “We’ve got data around products and we make these highly complex products – industrial manufacturing. We don’t know how to analyze the data and really figure out what customers are buying so we can optimize our supply chain.” Today, we know this to be Big Data. We ended up working on this problem. That started Emcien. When I got dragged into it I thought, “This is great. We’re going to change manufacturing.” I’m very passionate about trying to change manufacturing, which is really a tall order because manufacturing doesn’t want to change. It’s another story altogether.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Radhika Subramanian, CEO of Emcien
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