Plane Rides and Black Ties:
So What Else is New With
By Karin Tanabe, for Bisnow on Business
Recently back from spending 24 hours in the friendly skies, Sudhakar Shenoy, founder of IMC in Reston, is hoping to reduce his time among the clouds. On a recent trade mission to India with Virginia Secretary of Commerce Patrick Gottschalk (stepping in for Governor Kaine who stayed in VA due to the Virginia Tech massacre), Shenoy met with CEOs of several Indian airlines hoping to establish direct flights between Dulles and India. Currently you can only jaunt over to the Land for All Seasons from Chicago or Newark.
Time is valuable to Shenoy, who is active in more things than a normal person can keep track of. Just on the government front he’s also helping liaise for the White House in India, mobilizing support for the US India Nuclear Agreement. “If it passes, it will provide thousands of jobs both here and there.”
Generating employment both here and there is something Shenoy has been doing for years through IMC. More recently he and his brother founded the Center for Manufacturing Innovation at the Indian Institute of Technology, his alma mater. “India has leaped forward in the knowledge-based industries but those are highly educated people. The people that have no education need something; we want to help innovate in the manufacturing sector.” The innovation studio, which focuses on industrial design, produces household products that would have Philippe Starck drooling and has bigwigs like LG Electronics approaching the school.
On this side of the world, TiE, a global organization that encourages entrepreneurship, is about to fête its 10th anniversary tonight with a bash at Congressional Country Club. In ‘97, Shenoy along with MicroStrategy’s Sanju Bansal and Cvent’s Reggie Aggarwal formed the Indian CEO Council, which was hopping and ubiquitous for a couple years, but eventually metamorphosized into the lower profile TiE. Yet both have contributed big time to Indian success here. “Back in 1981 there were one or two companies owned by Indians in the tech sector. Today there are about 150 tech companies owned by Indians in the greater Washington area and many more owned by other minorities.”
The presence as speakers at tonight’s gala of longtime tech scene bulwarks like former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Fairfax Congressman Tom Davis, both interestingly trekking across the Legion Bridge into unaccustomed political territory for the event, bespeaks TiE’s growing influence yet the continuity of its message from the 90s. Shenoy will be there, as he is at so many activities and dinners. As many have noted, he could save time sleeping in black tie.
As to the distant past, Shenoy recalls his fledgling tech days with a laugh. “In 1981 when I started IMC I went to IBM to see if I could work for them as an independent programmer. They said to come back in a year if I was still around. I went back in the elevator and it happened to stop on the second floor where WANG was located. I stepped out right before the doors closed, and said what the hell, I will go talk to these guys. IMC ended up being the single largest provider of software to WANG laboratories worldwide. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Providence may have lent a hand in Shenoy’s prosperity, but how many people would have gotten out of the elevator and re-pitched their products after being rebuffed by IBM? These days 75 percent of IMC’s clients are connected to the federal government with a large chunk in the health-care industry. In fact they just signed a major contract with NIH.
“I often wonder how my life would be different if I had not gotten off the elevator that day,” Shenoy tells Bisnow on Business in his office surrounded by pictures of his family and autographed Redskins paraphernalia. “But obviously if I had to live my life all over again I would do exactly the same thing.”
For our part, we are adding elevator-hoping to our list of things to do.
June 5, NVTC and TCM's 11th Annual Greater Washington Technology CFO Awards, Hilton McLean, 6-9 PM. More info.