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Lokvani Talks To Bharat Khatau

Ranjani Saigal

Bharat is the founder and CEO of Trigent Software, an IT consulting company that has contributed to or developed more than 150 software products and systems for Fortune 500 as well as small and medium sized clients and also developed patented technology in the semantic web space.  Prior to Trigent, he was the co-founder and CEO of Better Software Technology, publishing software products for the high volume PC market.  Since 1982, he ran an IT and engineering consulting company, Covid Systems providing specialized factory automation services to many large and small companies, such as DataGeneral, SpecTran, Proteon, Champion Spark Plugs, Thinking Machines, Compaq, Levelor, etc. Before that, he worked at GTE Laboratories (now Verizon) and for EAI, a specialty high performance computer company.

Bharat holds MS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and B.Tech  in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology.

Can you tell us a little about Trigent?

Trigent is a technology solutions company solving business problems for the SME as well as large enterprises in US and Europe. We are also developers of products for other software and ecommerce companies presently servicing retail, financial, manufacturing, insurance and educational markets. We have about 100 active clients and during the past few years we have focused on helping our clients improve their revenue and margins by creating solutions focused on analytics, mobility and customer facing systems.

Our delivery model includes leveraging proprietary technology and standard tools as needed. We have also made substantial investments in our own IP in emerging areas such as semantic technology.

We have three development centers in India -  2 in  Bangalore, and one in Pune.  We also provide development and support services from our US facility in Southborough

With talent price point advantage not being as dramatic between India and the US, what makes off-shoring still attractive?

Labor rate arbitrage was the genesis of growth for Indian IT businesses during the early years. We are currently seeing performance of top Indian IT companies once considered “bell weathers” decline dramatically during  recent years.  I believe many Indian companies are moving towards higher value adds in their offering. Trigent recognized this issue several years ago and had acquired IP as well as developed and patented IP for automating many of the manual tasks associated with our services. India also offers scalability and flexibility of business that is unmatched by other venues.

You have some patented technology in the Semantic webspace.  What is the current state of the Semantic web?

There are some issues that are holding back general acceptability of Semantic Web. One is a chicken and egg problem, that this term means different things to different audiences hence there are no standardized approaches or solutions; and since no one has solved a big hairy problem as yet, one cannot build success based standards. From technical perspectives, the biggest problem with leveraging the power of the Semantic Web is a lack of general accessibility. The most accessible human-computer interface would be via Natural Language. Such an interface would need to exhibit an appropriately high degree of Natural Language Understanding across a wide variety of language and contexts. There is much work going on to achieve this.

What problems do your patented technologies address in the 
Semantic webspace?

Our patents address many key challenges in automated Natural Language Understanding, including fast first-time “machine reading”, context-based word sense disambiguation and machine learning via deep Natural Language Processing. Our patents also address generation of fresh Natural Language prose based on an evolving interpretation of an ever-growing information corpus.

This technology addresses many of the yet unsolved IT problems in several verticals such as defense intelligence, pharma, legal, banking and finance etc.

You have had a very long inning as a successful entrepreneur in the IT Space. What is the secret  that has allowed you to succeed through a rapidly changing IT space for so many decades? 

I had been a long distance competitive swimmer.  One has to balance not only long term survival but also remain competitive, whether you are in a calm swimming pool or a turbulent  ocean. The challenges associated with these are varied and so are performance standards – hence you must set goals that are realistic. It is also very important who you are swimming with. I have had the good fortune of being part of a competitive entrepreneurial landscape in the Boston area, getting inspirations from my colleagues, many of whom are very successful at what they do, be it business, research, teach or just social work and from institutions like the TiE.

What new opportunities to do you see in your space for budding entrepreneurs?

We are working with several small companies, helping them address opportunities they see in the changing post-recession landscape. However, it is not relevant if I see opportunities or not. A main ingredient of entrepreneurship is to identify the opportunity itself and have a strong conviction about your abilities to address this. Strength of your conviction drives you to success.

Is the post-financial crisis landscape still conducive for entrepreneurship?

There is no dearth of opportunities today because of several business and regulatory changes happening in our environment driven in part by the-financial crisis.   In addition to the traditional growth areas of high tech and life sciences, a whole slew of new problems need to be addressed in the financial, health care and regulatory areas.

Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurship is such as internal thing. Become one only if you believe in yourself and for the right reasons. While making a zillion dollars may be one reason, it is generally not sufficiently empowering. There will be good and bad periods so be ready to recalibrate your goals if needed and be prepared to swim in a calm pool or shark infested waters.

Outside of work, are they special hobbies you have?

Outside of work I like to swim and hike. I am a fan of classical (western and Indian) and jazz music and occasionally read.  I am involved in supporting a few Indian charities.

Thank you for your time

Thank you

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