Immigrants are a critical part of the innovation economy. The first three nominations for this year’s ILC Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards in High-Tech Business are living proof.
As a network engineer, Lingping Gao spent years managing enterprise networks and was frustrated by the tedious, manual nature of the work and the high cost of failure (a network outage can cost up to $200,000 an hour). In 2004, he founded NetBrain to automate critical network tasks and free up engineers to focus on more important and challenging work. By doing so, Gao not only helped companies save time and money, he created a whole new market.
NetBrain has become a global player with 350 employees in offices in China, Germany and California, in addition to its headquarters in Burlington, Mass. More than 1,500 of the world’s largest enterprises and managed services providers, including Microsoft, Santander and British Telecom, use NetBrain.
Accutronics, Inc., Chelmsford
In 1984, at the age of 24, Luis Pedroso founded his first company, Qualitronics, Inc., with three employees. He grew it to 165 employees by 2000 when it was sold to MSL. In 2004, he co-founded Accutronics. Both are contract electronics manufacturers that provide high-tech manufacturing capabilities to companies from start-ups to the Fortune 500. Pedroso is responsible for the creation of hundreds of jobs and the launch of countless new products.
Pedroso is both generous and proud of his heritage. He co-founded the Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Culture and Research at UMass Lowell, is the largest private donor to the Helio and Amelia Pedroso Endowed Chair in Portuguese Studies at UMass Dartmouth, and created the Portuguese American Scholarship Fund to serve students of Portuguese heritage at Lowell High School. He is a trustee of Theodore Edson Parker Foundation and Circle Health/Lowell General Hospital and has served as president of The Greater Lowell Community Foundation.
Nagarjuna Venna founded his first company, Saperix, in 2010 and sold it to Firemon in 2011. He got to work quickly and co-founded Bitsight later that same year. BitSight provides evidence-based ratings of security effectiveness to help organizations manage their security risk and the risks posed by third parties to more than 650 customers worldwide.
Venna has effectively created a new cybersecurity market, which information technology research and advisory firm Gartner termed “Security Rating Services (SRS).” The importance of cybersecurity ratings is so great that, according to Gartner, by 2022 SRS will become as important as credit rating services when assessing business partnerships for risk and viability. In 2016, Bitsight was selected by Forbes as one of 25 companies on its Next Billion Dollar Startup list.