Entrepreneur Profile: Q & A with Rishi Khan, Extreme Scale Solutions

Question: Tell us a little bit about your background and education.

Rishi Khan: I’ve been starting companies since I was in middle school. My first company was a lemonade stand  with my  brother and a friend. My dad financed the initial outlay but made us keep Excel spreadsheets of inventory, sales, P&L, and time spent. I think we broke even, but I learned a lot in the process. In high school I started a tutoring service and I also started two companies while in    college.

I have a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Delaware and a PhD in Computational Biology from a joint  program between the University of Delaware and Thomas Jefferson University. After my PhD, I  started a company with one of my PhD advisors, Dr. James Schwaber, and spent one year as a post doctoral fellow building a proof of concept for a DNA sequencing device that would reduce the then technology cost 1000X.  After my post-doc I joined ET International as the VP of  Research and Development and led projects that brought $8M dollars to the firm over 5 years. I was a Principle Investigator on a number of Dept. of Energy  (DOE) and Dept. of Defense (DOD) high performance computing projects and built a strong network in that field.

Q:  How did the idea of Extreme Scale Solutions arise and develop?

RK:  When I struck out on my own in 2014, the original focus of Extreme Scale Solutions was on the marriage of High Performance Computing and Big  Data, a fusion predicted by Gartner and heavily funded by VCs and the US Government. We originally intended to focus on DOE and DOD Research but started on Enterprise Solutions following a contract from a large Fortune 100 bank. We standardized database configurations and automated for database provisioning reducing a 30 day process with 9 teams to a fully automated 30 minute process.

In 2015, leveraging that initial success, we were contracted by another Fortune 100 bank to build out “Database As a Service”. This included all steps to bring siloed processes from multiple lines of business together into a unified self-service portal for planning,  provisioning, and operations. After this contract, we built a platform, Nubrado, which shortens the journey for large enterprises to move to public cloud, or a private cloud-like environment from years to months.

Additionally, in 2017 we began working with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Qualcomm on building next-generation computer architectures to speed up graph analytics by 1000X within the next five years. We believe these two tracks will converge as operational analytics becomes increasingly graph-oriented.

We often refer to our 3 pillars as R&D, software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, and advisory services. Our R&D keeps us on the forefront of analytics and automation. Our SaaS platform provides planning, automation, and analytics support for large enterprise clouds. Our advisory services supplement our platform by helping companies define process and procedures to align their people with the platform.

Q: So what services, in a nutshell, do you offer companies today?

RK:  Today, we provide a platform that enables large enterprises to migrate from legacy bespoke silos to a public or private unified cloud environment. This involves planning (What do I need to buy? Where will all of the databases go? How will they be isolated? How will the share resources? What databases should I migrate first to minimize cost or risk?), automated migration, automated lifecycle management actions, and operational analytics.


Q:  What advice would you give to startups seeking to start a business in the world of IT/big data?

RK:  Work at a startup to gain experience, credibility, network, and a cash hoard on somebody else’s dime. Give yourself a one-year runway (either through bootstrap funding, grants, or VC funding) to see if you can start to make money. Exist in a network of other entrepreneurs such as the Emerging Enterprise Center, Small Business Development Center, and CEO Thinktank®. Fail fast and often, and stick with what sells.

Q:  What’s next for Extreme Scale?

Our major effort is to bring our platform, Nubrado, to alpha customers. We are currently engaging with Oracle on a number of potential customers in banking, insurance, telecom, and other fields. Our goal is to make it easy for large companies to manage massive database landscapes through standardization, automation, manage-many-as-one, management through measured metrics.

In addition, our research arm is focusing on extending work on graph analytic processors to machine learning and other problems that can benefit from software-defined reconfigurable hardware.

Entrepreneur Profile: Reggie Ezeh, Data Value

Data Value, led by Reggie Ezeh, is a data management and analytics consulting firm.

Reggie has over 20 years’ experience in advanced analytics with Fortune 500 companies across the US and overseas. His experience spans Telecoms, Insurance (P&C, Auto, Health, etc.), Finance and Technology. He has managed local and global analytics projects in excess of $20 million dollars delivering top notch quantifiable value to the business in his previous positions.

Reggie saw a need in the market and a shortage of experienced professionals that can bridge the gap between analytics and business to provide strategic solutions. Having managed analytics, customer experience and marketing at local and global levels, Reggie has first-hand experience on how to transform an enterprise from a reactive, problem solving entity to a proactive and highly optimized one. And that is how Data Value was born.


Reggie does acknowledge that the greatest challenge is in helping potential clients – especially those who have never before focused on analytics – understand the profound impact that data can have on their business strategy. “Often times it’s an uphill task trying to sell fresh, insightful strategies backed by data to senior management who have not yet seen or understood the impact of data on today’s business playing field,” says Reggie. But he says that once senior management understands the value of analytics, Data Value is able to implement change that can be very impactful for a company. For example, a change to call center operations for one company led by Data Value resulted in a conversation rate increase from 1.5% to 3.5%!

Reggie plans to employ an intern in the Spring and a full time analyst by summer. When current projects can support it, he also plans to hire an 4-6 additional analysts, as well as local University interns to support clients. Reggie is also considering strategic partnerships with larger prime contractors for broader reach.

With the help of the Emerging Enterprise Center, Reggie now has good insight on how to plan his growth path.  Reggie says, “The EEC has also provided us with invaluable networking opportunities as well as beneficial seminars and workshops. Since joining EEC, we have made some great contacts that are sure be rewarding in the near future.”

Why To-Do Lists Are Killing Your Productivity

Written by Brooke Miles, Delaware ShoutOut

Do you start out each week—or each day—with a to-do list? Before I wised up to the dangers of to-do lists, I wrote them all the time. A typical one looked like this:

  1. Write blog article
  2. Craft proposal for new client
  3. Throw out orphan socks from sock drawer—or repurpose into puppets
  4. Develop PowerPoint for social media seminar
  5. Pull new gray hairs from top of head
  6. Make sales calls
  7. Memorize lyrics to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Consider singing with sock puppets.

You know what happened? I’d do the irrelevant stuff first (sock puppets, gray hairs, and Queen), because they were more fun and easier to check off. Wow, I was getting stuff done, I thought! Sure, I might work on less-pleasant-yet-critical business tasks…if there was enough time afterwards. But usually I found more tempting ways to fill the time.

Maybe you can relate. Okay, maybe you’re not lured by sock puppets, gray hairs, and Queen. But your tendency to check off simpler tasks—pay a bill, make a quick phone call, etc.—may be preventing you from accomplishing tasks that could make a huge, positive impact on your business.

Here are more problems with to-do lists:

  1. They don’t factor in the duration of each task. Some tasks might take two minutes—others might take two hours!
  2. They don’t say when you will tackle each task (i.e. no real commitment).
  3. They don’t distinguish between urgent and important. Urgent and important aren’t always the same thing.
  4. They rarely get completed in full. Did you know that, on average, 41% of to-do items never get done?

Imagine what your business would look like if you consistently accomplished your big-picture tasks every week.

My business transformed—with revenues quadrupling in one year—when I stopped writing to-do lists and started putting important tasks in a calendar. (I use Google Calendar, but any calendar will do.) Why a calendar? Because it forces you to block out time for the stuff that matters. In other words, you’re making regular business appointments with yourself. Using a calendar also helps you see what your day truly looks like, so you don’t end up over-committing to less important tasks.

Do I still crave a life with sock puppets, gray-hair pulling, and Queen? Absolutely. But now I can visualize what little time I have for it, at least during the workday. (Besides, I’ve found it’s easier to work on gray hairs at night, when my teenage son can help pull the ones I can’t see on the back of my head. Awkward for him, but great for me.)

I’d love to learn what productivity strategies work for you. Block out 15 minutes in your calendar to email me your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you!

Why Do Passionate Entrepreneurs Fail?

Written by Frank DeSantis, Certified Growth Wheel Trainer, Former Emerging Enterprise Center Program Director

The link below is to a great article in HBR on Passion vs. Preparedness, and reflects what I believe is the approach the Emerging Enterprise Center tries to take with their Incubator companies.

An entrepreneur has to have passion. It’s entirely too hard to start and run a business if you don’t absolutely love what you are doing! Apparently, according to this research, passion is a key ingredient to attracting attention of investors, especially novice investors, those typically found on crowdfunding sites.

Long term success, however, depends upon your ability to be prepared to scale the business. For that you need to have a vision (what do you want to be when you grow up), a game plan (strategy or business plan), and the processes and procedures to replicate what you do and how you sell. For more experienced investors, the passion and the concept may attract them initially, but they move quickly to determining how prepared they are for success; what is the experience of the management team; have they started a business before; is there a market; have they proved the concept?

At the Emerging Enterprise Center, they try to help you focus first on DRIVING YOUR BUSINESS (sales), while in parallel, developing the business skills and the policies/procedures to enable you to take advantage of opportunities that help you achieve your vision.

I believe you can have and, in fact, need both: PASSION AND PREPAREDNESS!