Leo Wells Salutes Entrepreneurs: Vikram Mehta
Vikram Mehta, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award national finalist for 2009 in the "Emerging" category, has an inspiring story-and some commonality with other successful entrepreneurs.
On the surface, it looks like another of those fairy tale business stories: a man comes from humble beginnings-in this case, from India-and rises to become a high-tech innovator and business leader. But upon closer inspection, Vikram Mehta, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year national finalist for 2009 in the "Emerging" category, is not the subject of a fairy tale at all, but the star of a story of hard work and dogged persistence. Mr. Mehta founded his company, BLADE Network Technologies, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, in early 2006, and they quickly became a leader in computer network infrastructure for data centers. For those of us who are non-technical, "network infrastructure" refers to all those boxes, switches, and cables that transport data - in this case between blade servers and storage systems for companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, NEC, and many others.
For several years prior to the founding of BLADE, Mr. Mehta was employed at Nortel, another technology company. While at Nortel, he co-founded Nortel's Blade Server Switch Business Unit, which he led from its inception in 2001 to June 2005. During his time there, he saw the opportunity for a new kind of intelligent "circulatory system" for data centers, but could not convince Nortel to back the project, even after securing buy-in from IBM.
Mr. Mehta joined Garnett & Helfrich Capital as CEO-in-residence in July 2005, and crafted the alliance between Nortel and Garnett & Helfrich Capital to establish BLADE Network Technologies as an independent company. Every member of Mehta's original Nortel division followed him, and his perseverance inspired IBM and Hewlett-Packard to take a chance on the new venture as well. BLADE recently reported the best quarterly results in the company's history, and now reaches nearly 7 million ports, connecting storage systems in data centers worldwide across more than 20 industries, including the number one retailer, stock exchange, and financial services companies. BLADE's Ethernet switches are installed at over 300 of the FORTUNE 500 companies.
Mr. Mehta shares several qualities in common with other top business visionaries, not the least of which is his ability to assemble a great team. In fact, in his own blog on the BLADE Network Technologies Web site, he states that his Entrepreneur of the Year Award is actually all about "the team of the year." He fully credits his engineers, operations, and sales and marketing professionals for building an outstanding product, a leading company, and winning this award. I've said many times that building a highly successful company has everything to do with the people who work there. You seek the very best, and you treat them like the gold that they are. As a former winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Financial Services category, my congratulations go out to Mr. Mehta. May he and his team have many successful years to come.