By Ryan McNutt; photo, Danny Abriel
Part of the Dalhousie Difference series
Ram Raju, president and CEO of Kivuto Solutions Inc., says today’s IT development climate is vastly different than when he was a Dal student and professor.
“In today’s world, with the capacity to rapidly develop new ideas at a low cost and find distribution easily, the barriers to entry have been significantly reduced compared to the early days of the Internet,” explains the three-time Dal alum. “It allows for a lot more ideas to be tried out.”
Raju, who is a past adjunct professor of information systems at Dal and the founding manager of PCPC, wants to help Dal students turn those ideas into business prospects. His company, Kivuto Solutions, has committed $50,000 over three years as part of the Bold Ambitions campaign to establish the Kivuto Solutions IT Entrepreneurship Fund.
The fund will enable student-led IT startups to access seed funding for early-stage prototypes and customer development for student teams – primarily those taking part in the Starting Lean course.
“In 2012, we started developing our own fund to essentially look at new ideas and try new things,” says Raju. “We have a budget for start-ups, some internally driven but we are also interested in ideas that come out of students and faculty here at Dal that could play some role.”
“This fund will allow all IT-focused student teams, regardless of financial means, to build prototypes and engage in customer development,” said Mike Shepherd, dean of the Faculty of Computer Science. He notes that as more CS students get involved in programs through the Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship and the Rowe School of Business, this sort of financial support becomes even more valuable.
Kivuto, founded in 1997, distributes over 25 million software downloads to 194 countries in 15 languages. Raju, its founder, spent 12 years at Dal as an adjunct professor of information systems, manager of the PCPC and vice-president at the Canadian Association of Campus Computer Stores. He has a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Dal.
Raju says that in addition to financial support, he expects representatives from Kivuto to play an active role supporting student startups at Dal, including lecturing in courses and mentoring.
“We want to provide an opportunity for faculty and students to continue to be curious about the world and to try things,” he says. “I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful time to be trying things.”
This article is part of the Dalhousie Difference series, exploring what the power of philanthropy means to the university and introducing and showcasing some of the 50 innovative projects in development. Learn more at boldambitions.dal.ca.