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NA’s Entrepreneurs and Innovation Thinkers Make Their Mark

Newark Academy may be one of the nation’s oldest independent schools, but since its inception in 1774 it has been guided by the forward-thinking values of inclusiveness and engagement with the larger world. Far from an ivory tower, in the 1800s NA was unique among its peer schools for offering classes in trade and business; it even established a division for young women long before becoming fully co-educational in 1972.

Today, NA’s tradition of innovation in education continues. As an International Baccalaureate (IB) school, NA exposes its students to a truly global curriculum at the highest levels of intellectual inquiry. All students participate in a required immersion experience, and seniors spend their final weeks engaged in off-campus projects, often finding inspiration that will spark their future career choices.

As Director of Studies Jeff Vinikoor explains, NA students learn to take risks both in their classes and in their extracurricular activities: “Whether they are pushing through intellectual barriers in an IB discussion or designing preseason training routines as team captains, NA promotes creativity and independent thinking in all aspects of our students’ lives.”

With its long history of looking out at the world in which its students will ultimately make their way, perhaps it is no surprise that NA’s alumni family counts so many entrepreneurial and innovative thinkers among its ranks.

Nihal Mehta ’95
The Power of Partnership

Nihal Mehta ’95 has founded five technology-based start-ups since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. Two of these thrived and were eventually purchased by larger companies, but it was the three that failed that have helped make Nihal the successful business person he is today.

For the past ten years, Nihal and his three business partners, friends since their college days, have been at the helm of Eniac Ventures. The company was named for the first computer, a room-sized behemoth built for the military in the 1940s and originally housed at UPenn. The original ENIAC machine may seem like a dinosaur by contemporary standards, but it was highly innovative for its time, embodying the best of that day’s technology – much like the start-ups Nihal works with at Eniac Ventures.

Start-ups are dependent on investors to help them get off the ground, but Nihal sees his venture capital company as far more than a source of funding for its clients. “My partners and I have been in the trenches, founding companies ourselves,” he explains. “We have developed scar tissue from our failures, and best practices from our successes, so we know how to guide a new company through the early stages of business development all the way to that crystallizing moment when their idea takes shape and they’re launched.” Nihal is energized by working with a company in the “seed stage,” when it is securing its first round of funding and is constantly evolving, reacting to the market’s demands and morphing into a business with real prospects for success.

Eniac works almost exclusively with technology companies, many of which have a marketing focus, much like Nihal’s own early enterprises. His ideal client, he says, is a team of founders who have already been through a start-up, failed, and come back with a new idea – collaboratively. “The success of any business is 90 per-cent about the team,” he says. “A start-up has to make so many changes in the early stages; they might evolve into something totally different from the original vision as they learn what will work in the market-place, but the constant that holds it all together are the people at the helm.” Nihal believes that a company with a diverse leadership team from a variety of backgrounds has the greatest potential for success. “The team has to balance each other out. They need people with technical expertise to develop the best possible product, but they also need someone with charisma.”

In fact, this is exactly the dynamic at Eniac, where Nihal and his partners recently retained a coach to help them work even better as a team. “My partners and I have been together for a long time, so we felt we could benefit from some outside perspective,” he says. “The coach helped each of us identify our ‘superpower,’ from the extroverted networker (that’s me), to the diligent spreadsheet guru, the portfolio manager, and the computer science whiz.”

As Nihal reflects on his career so far, he recognizes that despite his technical expertise and engineering background, it is the “softer skills” he has developed that account for much of his success. “At Newark Academy, I was involved in so many different activities,” he recalls. “I got an amazing education, but it was the hours after school from 2:30 to 9 p.m. working on the Minuteman, serving as captain of the cross country team and playing in the band that were the most formative in the long run.” These activities taught him more about leadership and motivation than he could have learned in a classroom. “As cross country captain I had to inspire dozens of people to follow a single direction; this is what successful companies do every day.”

Nihal especially values the culture at NA that was never about pigeon-holing students into being good at just one thing. “In my early start-up ventures I was responsible for everything from coding to sales to raising money and hiring staff,” he says. “My ability to work with a variety of constituents on very different tasks is something I learned in high school, and it has stuck with me ever since.”

“The team has to balance each other out. They need people with technical expertise to develop the best possible product, but they also need someone with charisma.”

As proud as Nihal is of his successful partnership with his Eniac co-founders, he knows he has partnered at least as well in his personal life. His wife, Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, was NA’s Commencement speaker this past June (see page 4). Nihal recalls receiving a call from Head of School Don Austin, who asked him to prepare some remarks for the ceremony. “When I realized what he really wanted was for me to offer a two-minute introduction and then step aside, I had to laugh. As I’ve always known, partnering with someone incredible can bring you places you could never go on your own.”

Walter Schubert ’75
True to Himself

Walter Schubert’s ’75 student days at Newark Academy are more than 40 years behind him now, but he still sees himself as a Minuteman, always ready to fight for what matters. In 1994, Walter made history by becoming the first openly gay member of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In fact, he was one of just a handful of openly gay professionals working in the financial services industry at the time. Walter’s coming out was not only a personal revelation: he made sure it was an awakening for Wall Street culture at large.

In 1994, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was more than just the official policy of the U.S. military; it was the culture of most institutions in the country when it came to sexual orientation, and Wall Street was no exception. On the surface, Walter appeared to be the ultimate Wall Street insider, a dyed-in-the-wool member of its white, male, heterosexual culture. At the age of 21, Walter had become the youngest member of the NYSE, inheriting his seat from his father, whose unexpected death sent the family reeling. “I became the main breadwinner for my mother and my college-aged siblings,” he recalls. “We had household bills and tuition to pay, and I was driven to fill the void left by my dad.”

For the next 15 years, Walter worked diligently to live up to his father’s legacy and, in the process, created one of his own, building a hugely successful broker-dealer business with more than $10 million in annual revenue. But somewhere along the way, he realized he had been ignoring a big part of his identity, and his denial was starting to take a personal toll. “As I entered my mid-thirties, I realized not only that I was gay, but that there was so much about my entire identity I had yet to explore,” he says. The single-minded focus of his early career gave way to more introspection, and Walter resolved to speak openly.

“Before coming out, I talked to my closest friends in the industry, and every one of them advised me not to do it,” Walter recalls. “They told me coming out would ruin my career. But as the ‘insider’ I appeared to be, I felt even more responsibility to be honest about who I really was – and if that made me a lightning rod, so be it.”

Soon after coming out, Walter gathered his employees and told them he would understand if they chose to leave the company. “Being openly gay on Wall Street was uncharted territory, and if people were worried that we would lose customers, I wanted to give them the option to leave with the understanding that I would welcome them back at any time.” After coming out, Schubert found renewed energy for his work. He was driven to rise above anyone’s doubt and to prove the value of his company (and of himself) through grit and determination.

Working against the backdrop of his newly public gay identity got Walter thinking about the many ways the culture of Wall Street was limiting financial opportunities not just for the gay community but for everyone. “In 1994 there were 1,253 pieces of legislation pertaining to personal finance,” he observes, “and not one of them employed a term other than ‘husband,’ ‘wife,’ or ‘spouse.’” Walter saw that, when it came to investing, protecting and transferring assets, gay and lesbian employees and their partners were being left out of the conversation.

” …they knew I was smart about technology and investing, that I had the ear of a large and powerful gay community, and that combining these elements together would create something new and important in the financial services marketplace.”

In 1998, Walter combined his long-standing interest in technology, his deep understanding of investing, and his new passion for advocacy within the gay community to launch the Gay Financial Network (GFN), a digital platform where people could turn for expert advice on asset management. Now there was a place for gay professionals to connect with gay-friendly bankers, lawyers, brokers and accountants – all the professional service providers they needed to grow and protect their assets and to plan for their futures – while being transparent about their personal circumstances.

“When people are accepted and appreciated for who they are, they are in a better position to thrive professionally as well as personally,” Walter says. He knew that if employers could recognize this, it would be a victory for both sides. “I met with senior management at all the major banks and made the business case that participating in the GFN would be a boost for their employees’ productivity and would expand their client base at the same time.” Not only did the banks agree, but soon the very NYSE members who had been so skeptical about Walter publicly identifying as a gay man became the most ardent supporters of his new venture. “They may not have understood me on a personal level, but they knew I was smart about technology and investing, that I had the ear of a large and powerful gay community, and that combining these elements together would create something new and important in the financial services marketplace. They wanted in!”

The GFN thrived from the start. By early 2000, the company was valued at $25 million, and Walter seriously considered accepting a lucrative opportunity to sell the business. GFN’s success gave other gay entrepreneurs the boost they needed to create like-minded organizations. Walter went on to serve as the first board member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Unfortunately, the technology bubble was soon to burst, and Walter had to rely on his own funding to see the company through the next several years. Always a fighter, he stayed in the ring with GFN through an unforgiving economic landscape and through several personal bouts with cancer, but in 2008 he decided to close the company and turn his focus toward healing, advocacy and mentorship. “In many ways, cancer has given me an opportunity to pare down my life to the essentials and live my deepest values,” he says. “Each day, I strive to share the gifts of my professional and personal experience with the next generation of entrepreneurs, advocates and seekers.”

Walter is a life-long learner, a trait he traces back to his NA days. His interests include history, poetry, astrophysics and Buddhism, and these intellectual and spiritual pursuits have given his life great depth and meaning. Reflecting on his triumphs and challenges, Walter remains optimistic that gay citizens and business people will continue their journey toward greater equality and prosperity.

Andrew Martino ’02
Spicing up the Takeout Business 

Andrew Martino. Not only did his first job have practical benefits, but it ultimately led Andrew to his passion, reimagining the restaurant business for today’s consumer. Andrew’s journey through the hospitality industry began just after he graduated from Syracuse University in 2006, when a friend needed help with her family business on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island. “It was supposed to be a summer job to tide me over until I figured out my next move,” he recalls. “But the restaurant had recently changed ownership and it turned out to be a great opportunity for a rookie like me to grow and learn in a place that was open to new ideas.”

Andrew helped with hiring and training staff, improving the quality of service, and ultimately opening an outdoor bar that brought a new energy to the historic venue. “I had a lot of responsibility at a very young age,” he says, “but I learned so many aspects of the business – from service, to construction, to the operation of a kitchen. I was really thrown into the deep end but I loved it, and the summer soon turned into six years.”

2012 brought Superstorm Sandy to the New Jersey coast, and Long Beach Island was hit particularly hard. “This was a re-grouping moment for me,” says Andrew. “The restaurant had to close, my house was severely damaged, and I needed to make a change.” He joined up with some friends heading to San Diego and took his hospitality experience to the West Coast.

Andrew found success working his way up the ranks in a variety of bars and restaurants, and he eventually formed a consulting business, using his expertise to guide hospitality entrepreneurs on a successful path. “I worked with music venues, cocktail lounges, and restaurants of all varieties from casual dining to high-end,” he says. “The work was satisfying but non-stop, and I needed a break.”

On a visit back to New Jersey, Andrew reconnected with a friend from his Long Beach Island days and the two are now married. “My wife, Giuliette, and I agreed that I would have to find a new opportunity back east, and I was happy to return to friends and family. I was also getting the urge to be my own boss,” he says. Andrew’s return to New Jersey also brought him back together with his former Newark Academy basketball teammates. “My high school team was very close,” he recalls. “Many of us have stayed in touch, and several of my teammates were in my wedding party.”

Andrew maintained his consulting business during his move back to New Jersey, and his work with two particular clients got his wheels turning. “One was developing a fast-casual eatery, and the other was focused on food technology. It occurred to me that aspects of their businesses could actually be combined to create something ground-breaking in the take-out food space.”

“I wanted to find a way to bring the food truck experience – a variety of cuisines available in close proximity – into people’s living rooms.”

During his years in San Diego, Andrew spent time with a technology start-up that was pioneering a paperless hiring system. He was intrigued by the efficiencies this platform had to offer, and he thought a lot about how he could lever-age the paperless concept in the restaurant industry. He was convinced that there were technology-based solutions to the challenges of inventory, ordering and payment, and if he could find a way to fuse his areas of expertise, he would really be on to something.

Andrew worked for his clients by day and in the evenings began developing a business plan for his own budding venture – a takeout operation that would offer multiple cuisines with a user-friendly ordering and delivery system. “I was inspired by the concept of a group of friends gathered in someone’s home deciding what to order for dinner and trying to reconcile several competing ideas about what to eat,” he recalls. “I wanted to find a way to bring the food truck experience – a variety of cuisines available in close proximity – into people’s living rooms.”

One leap of faith and a Kickstarter campaign later, Andrew signed a lease on a Jersey City space that needed work. He did most of the build-out himself, and after nine months he was ready to roll out his virtual fleet of food trucks. “The concept behind Ghost Truck Kitchen is to offer a limited number of items in a variety of cuisines, as if you were at a park or on a city street with multiple food trucks from which to choose,” he explains. “A family or a group of friends might not be able to agree on one type of food to order, but if there’s somewhere they can (virtually) ‘go’ together and each get what they want, it’s a win for all.”

Andrew offers organic, antibiotic-free meats and vegetables cooked to order and packaged in sustainable materials. In fact, he takes his preparations one step further, not only testing recipes for taste but also putting them through the “30-minute bag test.” He explains: “If a dish has to sit in its takeout package for an average of thirty minutes before it’s in the customer’s hands, I want to make sure it can stand up to that reality. We sell food that is expertly prepared, tastes great, and holds up to the delays inherent in the takeout environment.”

For now, Andrew operates out of just one kitchen, but as he continues to experiment with different “trucks,” seasonal offerings, and all the ways he can tailor the takeout experience to his customers’ desires, another Ghost Truck Kitchen just may appear in a neighborhood near you.

Emily Li Mandri ’05
Designing her own path

Emily Li Mandri ’05 first heard the call to create in faculty member Jay Torson’s art studio as a freshman at Newark Academy. “Painting was my first creative outlet,” she recalls. Emily pursued the visual arts throughout her time at NA but surprised her friends and teachers by choosing to attend Johns Hopkins University and to follow a pre-med path while majoring

in art history. While there, though, Emily found she missed the studio art classes she had so enjoyed before. She enrolled in a local art school in Baltimore, where she experimented with new materials, ultimately making a series of silk-screened T-shirts that got her thinking about the possibility of combining art and business.

“I have always been an entrepreneur at heart,” Emily says. “As a teenager, I used to lifeguard, but I preferred being my own boss, so I began teaching swimming lessons instead. I had a similar feeling about my art: if I could create something I would wear, like that T-shirt, maybe I could scale it up into a business.” Soon, Emily’s business Natty Paint was born, and before she knew it, she was supporting herself financially with her T-shirt sales – a particular advantage for a college student graduating into the bleak job market of 2009.

Emily loved the self-reliance her clothing business afforded her, and she soon branched out into a greater variety of items, ultimately creating a clothing line for the retailer Urban Outfitters and designing textiles for the women’s apparel company

Coldwater Creek. These partnerships sustained her for a number of years, but as her wholesale business grew, she learned more about large-scale production and found that many aspects of wholesale ran counter to her values as an artist and a small businessperson. “There is a tremendous amount of fabric waste in the fashion industry, especially when you are creating products at a relatively high volume,” says Emily. This waste frustrated her, and the industry’s high return rate (nearly 30 percent) for online clothing sales meant that she had less control over her inventory than she had been accustomed to when her line was smaller and focused on just a few items.

While Emily was managing her growing wholesale business, she was also pursuing her M.B.A. at New York University, where she became particularly interested in digital marketing and e-commerce. In 2015, she took a step back from the fashion industry to pursue this new passion, and she found great success designing websites that significantly increased her clients’ online sales – in one case, even doubling them. “Once again, I got the bug to be my own boss in this new arena.”

“My accessories are all made-to-order. This allows me to operate with very little inventory. I am free to experiment with new designs, customize orders, and truly make the entire business a reflection of my own aesthetic.”

Emily’s years in clothing design and sales had exposed her to the accessories business, which was leaner and less wasteful on the production side and enjoys a significantly lower return rate for online purchases. MLE by Emily Antonian Li Mandri, the online accessories business Emily launched in the fall of 2018, was her opportunity to incorporate the many lessons she learned in the fashion business and marry those with her expertise in digital marketing and website design.

“My accessories are all made-to-order,” Emily says. “This allows me to operate with very little inventory. I am free to experiment with new designs, customize orders, and truly make the entire business a reflection of my own aesthetic.” On the business side, she has deepened her knowledge of coding and takes great pleasure in running the business from all angles – creative, technical and financial. Emily now has MLE pieces carried at Nordstrom and Anthropologie.

Emily is not the only member of her family to make a living through art and design. “I have relatives who are tailors, and others who design fine jewelry,” she says. “I do think my interest in color and texture, and the joy I get from working with my hands, must be connected somehow to this family legacy.”

Reflecting back on how her experience with art at NA has shaped her career, Emily notes that being exposed to media like pottery and oil paint illuminated new creative paths. “At NA, art is very much a part of the curriculum. Being held accountable for projects was new for me, and my relationship with art became more formal than the playful experiment-ing I did as a child,” she says. That increased rigor was taken to a new level during an intensive summer experience at the New Jersey Governor’s School, a program for which she was nominated by her NA teachers. These formative experiences gave Emily an understanding that her art was worth taking seriously, a confidence that still fuels her work today.

Emily continues to consult with various digital marketing clients, a side venture that allows her to learn about new industries while deepening her e-commerce experience. Consultant, artist, designer and marketer, Emily cherishes the flexibility and creativity her entrepreneurial path has made possible. To learn more about Emily and MLE, visit www.madebymle.com.

Kamaal Bennett ’97
Collaborating for Growth

If Kamaal Bennett ’97 could give new entrepreneurs any advice it would be, “Think collaboratively, and think bigger than yourself.” The idea for Kamaal’s New Jersey Education Consortium (NJEC) began in 2007 as a simple plan to provide access to sports facilities for Newark students in under-resourced schools. Today, the organization has grown to encompass not only an athletic league but also a purchasing cooperative for schools, negotiating competitive rates for goods and services ranging from school supplies to transportation to employee benefits. NJEC’s mission, “to create and leverage economies of scale for the benefit of schools and children,” is far more ambitious than Kamaal could have imagined back in 2007, when his first victory was bringing a basketball program to four Newark charter schools.

A few years after graduating from Loyola University Maryland, Kamaal was working in real estate and had the opportunity to visit a small public school in East Orange, New Jersey. “My first thought was, Where is the gym?” Kamaal recalls. “I was a lacrosse player at Newark Academy, and sports were always very important to me. I also understood, through my mother’s experience as a teacher, the necessity of physical activity for establishing healthy habits, especially for middle school students.”

Kamaal was struck by the lack of resources at this school and others like it. He soon learned that many small public school districts, along with private and charter schools, were unable to sustain any kind of sports program due to insufficient space and financial resources. These limitations are particularly significant for middle schools, which are generally a lower funding priority for their districts than high schools. Kamaal was determined to fix this problem.

Basketball seemed like the obvious place to start, as it requires only simple equipment and a relatively small space. With support from Newark’s New Community Corporation (NCC), Kamaal found his first major booster. “Monsignor Linder, founder of the NCC, came from the charter school world and was extremely understanding of the circumstances these kids were in,” Kamaal recalls. “He was also in a position to bring us together with the leadership at the New Community Neighborhood Center in Newark’s Central Ward, and they agreed to give us several hours per week of gym access.”

With these necessary resources secured, Kamaal created a small league of four schools around Newark and East Orange, and the Charter School Athletic League (CSAL) was born.

Initially, Kamaal envisioned his venture as a small nonprofit, but when the financial markets collapsed in 2008 and philanthropic support became less available, he began to think differently. “Even though we had strong early support from local charitable foundations, I decided I needed to find another way, so we would be able to run our program without being dependent on the ups and downs of fundraising dollars.”

Member schools paid dues to participate in CSAL, and Kamaal was careful to scale up slowly, building revenue and then investing it in the program. As the CSAL basketball program grew, other community organizations took notice. “Under their previous ownership, the New Jersey Devils hockey team helped arrange for the New Community Neighborhood Center to become an NHL Street Hockey Program site,” says Kamaal. “The Devils sent players and equipment to the center and sponsored clinics to drum up excitement.” Now the basketball league was joined by a robust street hockey program and CSAL’s profile in the community continued to grow

“Athletics gave us our first way into a wonderful community of schools, and we are thrilled to continue to serve them in new ways and help them focus on what they do best.”

The more Kamaal worked with leaders in the charter school community, the more he became aware of the other needs of these small, under-resourced schools. “Charter schools, along with small public school districts and Catholic schools, struggle to fund many aspects of their programs,” says Kamaal. So he gradually expanded the athletic league to include additional sports and transportation. “We grew in small increments, adding new sports and facilities as our membership grew,” he says. The league has an à la carte structure that allows schools to pay only for what they want and use. The league now encompasses 67 schools across multiple New Jersey counties, with additional programs in soccer, cross-country running and track, flag football, volleyball, and cheerleading.

Inspired by the success of the athletic league and by the many positive effects its participants enjoyed, Kamaal began to consider how he might harness the collective power of his member schools to negotiate better rates on a range of goods and services, including classroom materials, cleaning products, office supplies, audio-visual equipment, and more. From there, the cooperative took on its next challenge: health insurance, which offered a huge opportunity for savings. “Offering our member schools the opportunity to purchase employee health insurance as a group allowed us to leverage their collective size and pay much lower rates,” he recalls. In its first year, member schools realized more than $1 million in savings on premiums, and additional savings on administrative costs.

Schools that participate in NJEC’s purchasing group save not only money but also time. “The Consortium reduces its member schools’ operating expenses, but just as importantly we take on time-consuming tasks like purchasing and transportation, so they can focus on the needs of their students,” Kamaal says. “Athletics gave us our first way into a wonderful community of schools, and we are thrilled to continue to serve them in new ways and help them focus on what they do best.”

Kamaal explains that the most satisfying part of his work is the positive effect the cooperative has had on middle schools in Newark and surrounding areas. “Enabling these schools to thrive has a ripple effect that can transform kids’ lives,” he says. With increased access to athletics and stronger, better-functioning schools, the students’ eyes are opened to a new world of possibilities. “Several of our CSAL alumni have gone on to attend Newark Academy and other excellent independent schools – notably, basketball stand out Jocelyn Willoughby, who is a member of the NA Class of 2016 and graduated from the University of Virginia in May 2019 and is currently pursuing her masters in her final year of eligibility,” he says. Kamaal looks forward to many more years of strengthening connections between Newark Academy and his schools in Newark, where the roots of today’s NA were planted many years ago.

Ajay Kulkarni ’97
Making Sense of Data

It would probably surprise his colleagues in the tech world to learn that Ajay Kulkarni’s ’97 first start-up involved no complex coding or algorithms, and it would certainly surprise his first customers to learn that the founders of the kosher candy company “Chocolate Guilt” were non-Jewish former computer science majors, one of whom (Ajay himself) had dual degrees from MIT. “My first company was definitely the most fun,” Ajay recalls. He and two childhood friends

founded the company during their early years on Wall Street, seeking a more creative outlet than their desk jobs provided. “We packaged the candy with passive-aggressive messages like, ‘The telephone works both ways, you know,’ and came up with similar quips for a line of fortune cookies we sold to kosher Chinese restaurants.” The business was a lot of fun for the founders and taught them valuable early lessons in customer service and marketing strategies.

Five years later, Ajay put his computer science background to more typical use, developing an enhanced electronic address book for use on Blackberry devices. “It was 2009, right at the start of the smartphone boom, and the timing was right for this type of technology,” he says. He sold the business to another start-up, and it was later sold to Skype and ultimately to Microsoft.

Ajay’s next and current venture began three years ago, when he joined forces with an MIT classmate to create iobeam – now called Timescale – a database technology company that helps businesses make use of the vast amounts of data they collect from their products, with the goal of enhancing the experience for the end user.

“Computing has gone through many transformations since the first mainframes of the 1950s,” explains Ajay. “From those giant machines evolved PCs, then smartphones, and now we are in an era where even the smallest devices in our homes contain powerful computers.” This phenomenon of “smart products” is often referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). “Companies have the ability to collect vast amounts of data about how their products are performing, and they need a platform with which they can decipher what that data is telling them.”

One of Timescale’s customers manufactures home security cameras. “The camera is a great example of a device that needs to function properly when no one is there to monitor it,” says Ajay. “The software we created takes signals from the camera’s internal computer and relays them back to a database that analyzes its performance and can spot errors if they occur, so the end users can be confident they are getting the functioning devices they are counting on to protect their homes.”

In addition to the IoT side of the business, Timescale creates software that allows companies to extract specific data from moments in the past and to use this information to predict future conditions, which is especially useful for Timescale’s clients in the energy and finance sectors.

“Our strategy is to see a business from our client’s perspective and understand what problems they need to solve. This drives our software development.”

Ajay’s interests have always been at the intersection of technology and people. “When companies know how to use the data they collect to analyze their products’ performance or to create more efficient processes, that’s where you see data really transforming people’s lives,” he says. “Our strategy is to see a business from our client’s perspective and understand what problems they need to solve. This drives our software development.”

One of the biggest and most satisfying challenges for Ajay and his team has been Timescale’s recent and exponential growth. “As a new start-up we had a way of doing business that worked for our small scale, but as we gained customers and required more engineers to work with them, we had to evolve accordingly. The type of leadership a four-person company needs is entirely different once that company has grown to 50 employees.”

Ajay likens the process of growing his business to parenting – an adventure upon which he and his wife, Seema, recently embarked. “Once you know everything about the stage you’re in and how to manage it, the child (or business) grows into a new phase and everything you think you know is obsolete!”

Newark Academy students interested in technology would be wise to get to know Ajay and Timescale. Over the years, the company’s New York office has hosted several NA seniors working on Senior Projects. The students who work with Timescale have made valuable contributions, especially in blog-writing. “Technology is constantly changing and evolving, and blogs are often the best way to spread the word about what we are doing,” says Ajay. “It’s not easy to synthesize the complex, technical work we do into accessible language. One thing that has not changed since my student days is that Newark Academy trains great writers, which is exactly what we need to reach potential customers.”

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