Sumit D Chowdhury, Founder and CEO, Gaia Smart Cities (Former President of
|Dr. Sumit D Chowdhury,
Founder and CEO, Gaia Smart Cities
Bureau: When did you decide to take the path of ‘entrepreneurship’ as your
career? Do you remember any special incident?
and Ph.D from Carnegie Mellon University. I have been working in the field of
electronics and communications networks right through my undergraduate and
graduate studies and all the jobs I have been doing over 24 years. Having led
consulting groups in KPMG, BearingPoint, IBM and CIO of Reliance Communications
and President with Reliance Jio, I have had experience in managing technology
and technical people solving country-wide mission critical telecom
infrastructure. I am also a solutioneer by heart – always looking for ways to
find solutions to problems. So when we started Gaia Smart Cities, it was an
amalgamation of networks, electronics, IT, Urban Planning and Policy making –
everything that I have done or wanted to do. My cofounder Bipin has couple of
patents and worked in several internet startups and in big companies solving
complex systems problems. We both were fascinated with IoT and Urban Design and
the concept of creating an ecosystem of solutions for solving wide-area urban
and industrial problems using IOT Technology. Bipin has been an entrepreneur
twice before and I have funded three other startups before. This was not an
accident. It was destiny.
Bureau: Can you briefly tell us more about your startup?
three concepts that are changing how we live, work and interact with our living
environments – a) Internet of Things, b) Smart Cities and, c) Industrial
Automation. As India and almost every country across the world is dealing with
rapid urbanization, creating pressures on the infrastructure and environment,
the cities are embarking on projects that improve their sustainability and
improve the quality of life of their citizens. Industries are also looking for
more information from their deployed assets. These cities and industries will
use the power of ubiquitous communication networks, highly distributed wireless
sensor technology, and intelligent management systems to solve current and
future challenges and create exciting new services.
Electronics and Telecommunications company. We are actually very focused on
solving wide-area urban problems that requires a combination of the above three
components. We are creating an IOT Virtual Network allowing devices with
different communication and load characteristics to connect and communicate to
backend infrastructure seamlessly. We think like a Telco (in terms of large
scale mission critical infrastructure), we execute like a start-up – agile and
nimble, and we innovate like a silicon-valley company solving problems with a
combination of hardware and software building IP along the way. We have tried
to apply concepts learnt in the telecom IT domain and created an unique
solution architecture for agile cities where information is shared and acted
upon across different domains. This is the USP that positions us above our
Goddess of Earth) was chosen by us from the much known “Gaia Hypothesis” that
was proposed by James Lovelock in 1960s. This hypothesis stated that everything
(living and non-living) in this world is connected with each other and
communicating with each other to keep the world in balance. This philosophy was
very suited with the concept of the Internet of Things – connecting “things” to
the current internet of information and internet of / for people so that they
can share information and keep the world in balance. We added Smart Cities to
the name to reflect the fact that we were addressing large wide area urban
Bureau: How big is your team at present?
along with another 20 associates and interns who are contributing to the
company. Apart from my co-founder Bipin and me, there are 8 others who are
considered as the Founding Team. They are equally passionate about the concept
and have all joined to achieve the mission of the company.
|Gaia Smart Cities team|
Bureau: Did you get any funding for your startup? Are you planning to attract
funding in the near future?
this time. We have got customer projects that fund the rest of the product
development. We are in the market for a Series-A growth funding. We are in
discussions with several investors at this time.
Bureau: What challenges do you face in
your daily professional life?
team has several challenges. Not everyone in the team is geared towards a
start-up working culture so managing those expectations and creating the culture
of self-discipline rigor is most important. Having the cash flow to ensure
deliverables are met timely and vendors are paid timely is the next challenge.
Then there are challenges of technology and client requirements that have to be
managed. Some clients do not give the entrepreneur the benefit of doubt.
Finally finding time for doing everything that needs to or has be done a on a
daily basis the final challenge.
Bureau: How do you see yourself in next 2 years from now?
funded scaling startup with at least 100-150 people. We should have made a mark
in both the startup and the smart cities domain the country. We would be
working on very innovative ideas that are really changing how people live and
Bureau: What are your hobbies in your personal life? Which is your favorite
continue to pursue. I am a marathon runner and long distance cyclist. I am also
a painter and musician. Frankly after I started my company, I have not had time
for music or art but I continue to run and ride. I am also a motivational
speaker and that I do very often. I accept whatever opportunity I get to
practice any of my above interests. If there is time and opportunity, I am at it.
and that has been a constant source of inspiration for me. I don’t have a
favorite place. I still have many more places to go. I look for unique
experiences in each of these locations. I love taking pictures that capture the
essence of the place – the local colors, sounds, smells, daily occurrences that
are different from the rest of the world.
Interviewed by Startup Terminal Bureau