Cambridge Technology Enterprises to expand startup investment portfolio to 12
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The IT services company has launched Cambridge Innovations to partner with US startups in big data and cloud, says chairman Aashish Kalra

Sourabh Gupta, TechGig.com

Cambridge Technology Enterprises that recently invested in six US-based tech startups aims to expand its investment portfolio in new ventures to 12 by next year, foreseeing increased demand for real-time big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, chairman Aashish Kalra said in an interview. 

He said his big data and cloud-focussed IT services company has launched Cambridge Innovations to partner with disruptive startups to generate revenue, build clients and attract talent by giving them the chance to work on innovative solutions.

Edited excerpts from the email interview: 

What changes do you see in client requirements in big data and cloud services?

In a world where real-time analytics, AI and machine learning take the centre stage, enterprises are pioneering their move to cloud and big data while seeking for a partner that has capabilities in data integration, processing power, and the ability to deliver a flexible and scalable solution. With multiple technologies, platforms and architectures, it becomes imperative for companies to rely on a technology partner that offers a comprehensive solution to their data needs. 

We launched Cambridge Innovations (CI) recently, which will help us stay ahead of this rapidly-evolving industry and partner with the most innovative new US startups. Cambridge Innovations understands the challenges facing entrepreneurs today. A faster time-to-market, the ability to scale, the right product development team and capital are the difference between long-term success and failure. 

Is there a skill gap among candidates you are hiring?

The domain we operate in requires specialised skill sets. IDC estimates a shortage of more than 1.8 million analysts and 200,000 data scientists in the US alone by 2018. This global resource shortage fuels the opportunity to offer services in this space. To leverage this, we have reinforced our global presence across the US, India and Europe, which will help us recruit the best of the talent. We have set up competency centres to train and upskill the talent that we recruit.

Can you talk a bit about CTE’s recent investment in US startups? 

Early stage ventures are the first adopters of disruptive technologies making them transformative. In the same context, Cambridge Innovations aims to partner with the next wave of global leaders leveraging big data and cloud. It provides an opportunity to invest in a portfolio of US innovation – the largest market of startups in the world. 

With this innovative platform, CTE aims to generate revenue and build future clients for CTE, attract and retain talent, giving our employees an advantage to work on innovative solutions and capture financial upside from equity. 

We have made six investments till date with a target to complete 12 by March 2017. The current investments are in RoadZen, Causemo, Authess, PhotoKharma, MyCrowd and AntHill Ventures.

The investee companies are creating disruptive transformation in the big data and cloud space. Based in Boston, Authess uses data science to change the way education and professional assessments are done. It has partnered with the Sikkim Manipal group in India. 

RoadZen, with its app StrandD, is disrupting the roadside assistance market through a transformative offering. Started by a Carnegie Mellon alumnus, StrandD is the largest on-demand roadside assistance service in India with 18,000 providers in 4,800 cities. It has recently tied with one of the largest insurance companies in India and is starting a pilot with one of the largest state owned oil companies for payments processing at its petrol pumps.

What are the tech profiles the company is hiring for? 

CTE is always eyeing to hire the best talent in the domain of cloud and big data. We are investing in recruiting and training the future leaders of CTE and this will continue to impact our profitability till we achieve minimum scale. Hiring quality talent has been a challenge. We believe that we are sub scale and to reach to scale, we need to get to $2 million revenue per month by March 2017 with an employee base to complement our growth. 

What would you look for in a graduate entering the tech industry today? What do they need to learn?

As real-time big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning is breaking down the traditional best practices and structure barriers, creativity and innovation is what is needed to be ahead of the curve. Technologists need to have a knack of the technical concepts along a multi-disciplinary approach and an innate curiosity to implement innovation at each level of their work. 

sourabh.gupta@timesgroup.com