Sai has had to compete with competitors who were eventually acquired by HP, IBM, and their likes. How does a small company compete? Find out more.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances?
Sai Gundavelli: I am from India. I have done my Bachelor’s from India. I did my Master’s from the University of Oklahoma in Mechanical Engineering. It was during the very early stages of the computer revolution. I was fortunate to get an offer from Cisco when it was less than a $100 million company and when you could meet John Chambers in the cafeteria. I worked at Cisco for five years and was part of multiple projects. It was a fairly bumpy ride but I learned tremendously.
I’m more a technical person. I didn’t have any genes for sales or entrepreneurship. I just wanted to do something that I would be proud of even when I’m 70 years old. This was at the early stage of the Internet boom. What I learned from Cisco was that Cisco had a vision, from day one, to be a billion-dollar company. They wanted to build some enterprise applications to be able to support that growth. I said, “I can build an Internet revolution startup company.”
I started my journey at this point in time. I started a company to help companies implement enterprise applications. Come the year 2000, the dot-com boom was dying. The entire market was also going down the drain. That’s when I partnered with Google and said, “Let me take your search and apply it to enterprises.” I took their search and went to enterprises saying, “I want to provide enterprise data search.” As I spoke to multiple companies, they said, “We like the search. We don’t know how to put it to use. We don’t even know what data we have.”
Companies don’t know what data they have. I said, “Maybe I can help them identify what data they have and organize their data.” That triggered my company Solix, and I incorporated a brand new company around 2003. That was Solix Technologies. We started to help enterprises manage their data. We started with enterprise archiving. Then we went to test data.