Alumnus believes in connections to serve others
Electrical engineering alumnus Vik Chadha M.S. ’94 believes in creating networks — both the human and computer kind — to build something even greater.
Since graduating from Virginia Tech, he has used his innate ability to combine the best people and technologies to create businesses and provide startup capital to help others reach their full potential. Through all of their corporate and community service endeavors, he and his wife of 23 years and fellow Hokie, Vidya Ravichandran ’96, live the Virginia Tech motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).
“This is a very important value system for us,” said Chadha. “When you’re impacting people and families, it becomes a social responsibility.”
Chadha and Ravichandran and a close friend, Raj Hajela, created their first project, passion4art.com, to support and raise awareness for the arts. Then the website’s server crashed, and months of hard work was lost. This devastating experience made them realize that they couldn’t be the only ones falling victim to the whims of technology hiccups. The idea to start Backupify, to help businesses back up critical information, was born.
“Backupify started as a lark with a good friend named Rob May. But that lark met a need and we sold, what began as a hobby and morphed into a fast-growing startup that raised $20 million in venture capital funding, for over $100 million,” said Chadha. “If you tinker around, you don’t know where it can lead. We learned by doing. Rather than reading books about starting a company, we just learned by doing.”
As a Virginia Tech graduate student studying electrical engineering in the early '90s, Chadha worked for the University Libraries’ information technology department overseeing the CD-ROM collection. This was an early stand-alone system not supported by other information technology systems or networked servers, so it was very unstable. So unstable in fact, the library issued him a pager in case the system crashed and he needed to rush to Newman Library to fix it.
Because of his job in the library, Chadha could buy a car, earn a parking pass, and meet living expenses. It also was relevant work experience for his resume and gave him an appreciation for managing local area networks. This led to his graduate thesis, a computer network simulation about how our brain works.
Those lessons in how networks need to be configured for success stuck with Chadha. Throughout his career, he watched how networking — both in-person and through technology — helps companies connect with employees and clients throughout the world. Personally, he appreciated the ability to video chat with his father in India through software using Unix servers and networks.
Even after creating and selling more than a half dozen companies that solve wide-ranging business problems through technology and human networks, Chadha and Ravichandran continue to seek opportunities to help others.
Ravichandran is founder and CEO of GlowTouch Technologies, which offers customer experience management services and contact center, business process, and technology outsourcing with a motto “putting people first.” The affiliated GlowTouch Foundation, created by Ravichandran and her family in 2004, reaches beyond the corporate mission and provides the economically challenged access to quality health services, educational assistance, and employment opportunities in the GlowTouch Technologies global footprint.
Recently, the foundation lent a helping hand to Raj, who was involved in passion4art.com over 20 years ago, and his wife Priya Hajela, with their philanthropic undertaking - The VaxAll Initiative. It is a COVID-19 vaccination program in India that fully funds vaccines and leverages local hospitals and primary care centers to pre-register and administer the vaccines. The program also builds awareness by creating connections to promote the importance of vaccinations.
“We place human networks on top of physical networks,” said Chadha. “We care deeply about others and want to make a difference in people’s lives.”
As founder and CEO of Scalable Ventures, a firm that invests in entrepreneurs and innovative software creators, Chadha uses his skills for analyzing effective networks and managing risk to help others scale up their ideas and become successful companies. He said it’s about mentorship, connections, and financial backing.
“Entrepreneurship is a twisty, windy journey with ups and downs — a lot of downs,” said Chadha. “Entrepreneurship and innovation are my jam. I enjoy unlocking potential by leveraging highly talented people and technology.”
He combines his personal and professional interests with market needs to make something bigger. For him and Ravichandran, it is a hobby, a livelihood, and a way of making the world a better place.
By Ann Brown