We continue to see exciting enterprise software companies being built by entrepreneurs who have roots in the consulting business and who have taken their domain knowledge and customer insights to develop compelling products to solve specific problems. Gravitant is yet another case in point.
Sramana: Mohammed, let’s start our discussion by reviewing your background. Where do you come from? What are the roots of your entrepreneurial journey?
Mohammed Farooq: I am originally from India, close to Hyderabad. I went to engineering school in India and came to the United States in 1991 to attend graduate school. I was born in 1967 and went to school locally in India. I attended Gulbarga University in India where I studied mechanical engineering. I attended graduate school in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, I completed a dual degree in operations research and computer science. I then did an MBA in finance as well.
Sramana: What year did you finish your school work?
Mohammed Farooq: I completed my schooling in 1995. I moved to Austin to look for a job as a foreign student on an F1 visa. At the time, the economy was booming and I was fortunate to have received multiple job offers. One job offer was for a manufacturing engineer with applied materials, another was a consulting assignment with KPMG, and the final job offer was for a government job with the state as a software engineer. I had an interesting decision to make.
I made the decision to start my career as a software engineer, so I became an employee of the state of Texas. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to solve some very large challenges that ultimately landed me in the state Governor’s office, who at the time was George Bush. The problem was around the drought in Texas. There was a law that required Texas to monitor the past 50 years of data to predict water reliability for the next 50 years. The outcomes would be used to create water consumption predictions for municipalities, agriculture, and industries that could be used in creating a water consumption policy. That was one of the biggest projects that anybody could work on. I was assigned to lead that project after just one year.
Sramana: That sounds like a very interesting project to work on in the very first year of your career.
Mohammed Farooq: Yes, I was very lucky. I think I did well because I had a multifaceted background. I had operations research modeling and computer science. I was able to combine those skill sets to solve a problem. There were a lot of engineering and IT firms that consumed that work. The project was a phenomenal success because you could go to a Texas map, click on any location, and find out who owned the water rights, what the water availability looked like, what the water quality was, and see the projected water consumption for that location. The strategy and solution was a $200 million project over 3 years.