Posted By Vishrut Shukla,
Saturday, May 22, 2010
| Comments (2)
And this month's star is...
Shashikant Khandelwal ('97, CS)
Shashikant Khandelwal, Co-Founder & Chief
Technical Officer at TheFind Inc, a startup in shopping search with
more than 20 million visitors per month. At TheFind, Shashikant has
been involved in venture funding, product innovation (4 patents granted,
4 pending), and building a scalable search engine. He recruited a team
to solve hard problems in information extraction using machine learning
& has played a crucial role in traffic growth and revenue
He also co-founded BITSEmbryo along
with his 1997 batch BITSians classmates, and led the team from idea
inception to building an Embryo Club on campus to run this project. Since inception, Embryo has conducted about 100 lectures via
some of them simultaneously across Pilani, Goa and Dubai campuses with
an attendance of over 500 students. Shashikant will guide the
of similar program at OCTAVE Business School.
Prior to TheFind, Shashikant worked
at INSEAD France for a year. Shashikant is 2nd merit in BE (Hons)
Science from BITS Pilani and has an MS in Computer Science from Stanford
University. He was 2nd rank holder in HSC and 3rd rank holder in SSC
from Nagpur Board.
- Co-Founder and now the CTO of ‘TheFind’. What next?
Next is making TheFind the greatest shopping company in history. I’ll figure out what to do after TheFind when I come to it.
- How did entrepreneurship happen?
Getting a job in a big company and working for other people is not something that comes naturally to me, especially when I know I can do something better. Entrepreneurship happened because (a) I was actively looking for it all along, (b) I went to the right place in the world for Computer Science folks to become entrepreneurs – Stanford (c) lady luck hooked me with the right people.
- You get up in the morning. All charged up to go to work. What keeps you motivated?
The simple fact that I’m building the best company in the world (in the domain of shopping). I get to innovate, which I love to do. Besides, I get to work with a bunch of smart people, a number of whom are BITSians.
- How did ‘BITS Embryo’ happen?
BITSEmbryo is basically a result of a small group of BITSian friends itching to do something together, and also to give back to BITS Pilani. At some point of time around 2004, a group of us were actively brainstorming on ways in which we can contribute to BITS Pilani. One of the common themes that emerged from the discussion was: How the make the students on campus more aware of what’s going on in the real world. This would help them in making career decisions very early on in life.
E.g. I work in the general area of web search / machine learning. This is undoubtedly the hottest field in CS these days. There was no such course in BITS during my time, so I did not know anything about this area. My Stanford SOP actually said "I want to work in Computer Networks” because that was the only useful elective available in BITS. Luckily I came to Stanford, got introduced to web search, and now I’ve cofounded a company doing search. However, in my CS batch, I’m the only person (maybe 1 more) working in web search. In contrast, in the same batch from IIT Powaii, there are at least 10 people I personally know who are in the area of web search, many with PhDs, working in google / yahoo / microsoft / startups. That is because they took relevant courses during their BTech, and then applied for PhDs in the same field in US universities.
This example translates to many fields.
We believe that getting knowledge
early on in life regarding cutting edge
technologies can have a fundamental effect in shaping the careers of
students. We want to make sure that current BITSian students get the
full opportunity to realise their potential in their areas of interest.
That is the reason why we started BITSEmbryo.
We pursued some ideas, and the BITSEmbryo idea of connecting BITS Alumni to students/faculty on campus via video conferencing became the most successful. Since then, we’ve done more than 100 lectures.
- What keeps you engaged in your spare time?
What spare time? Haa haa.
- If you had a time machine, what would you do?
Not sure how to answer this. I think about the future, not the past. However, I do love history, so I’d probably go back in time and see how various historical events took place.
- What is the craziest thing that you have done?
Not sure. But here’s a funny story: When I opened my first stock trading account, I bought Apple stock for $40 and sold it for $42 a few days later, and felt extremely proud of myself on making some money in stock. Have you seen what it’s trading at now!
|Book||Tale of Two Cities|
|Food||Whatever mom cooks, whatever I cook (!)|
|Movie||Many - both Hindi & English|
|Actor/Actress ||Amitabh/Rekha and all of Amol Palekar, Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil etc.etc.|
|Sports||Not into sports|
|Holiday||Europe (Paris, Barcelona)|
Spoken like a true BITSian
|Hangout Place||Everywhere except classroom|
|Hostel||Shankar Bhawan, Ashok Bhawan|
|Redi||Not a redi kind of guy; Shankar redi whenever I did go|
|Food||Munna Pavitra Bhojanalaya|
|BITSian Slang||All of them! (I've always had many BITSians around me!)|
- Your BITSian experience in one word.
- One thing that you will always miss about BITS.
Endless night-out sessions with friends
- Something you learnt at BITS that has always helped you.
How to win and continue to keep on winning under limited time and resources .
- How would you like to see BITS in the year 2020. Your ideal vision.
An institute imparting the best education (including post-graduate level), comparable to US Ivy League schools.
- For BITSians on campus: Not to leave campus without doing this one thing!
(a) Making lots of friends; (b) working in some club / department.
- Your association with and thoughts about BITSAA.
I’ve been involved with BITSAA for quite some time. Amongst all the Indian alumni organizations I’ve seen, it’s probably the best one. Kudos to everybody who has made is so successful.
- Message to BITSians on campuses:
Along with having a lot of fun during the 4 years, make sure you develop a plan for your career. Most successful people in the world start off early. Remember Tendulkar in international cricket at 16 or Bill Gates as CEO of Microsoft at 25. Find out what you’re passionate about, and learn as much as you can about those things. Use both on-campus resources (teachers, colleagues) and off-campus resources (alumni who give Embryo lectures) to discover and develop your interests.
- Message to all BITSians:
Pursue your dreams. If you don’t change the world, who will?