Pictured above: (from the left) Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Steve Case, John Bracken, Sid Banerjee, and Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey.
A Greater Washington Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in IT services, Sid Banerjee is the CEO and Co-Founder of Clarabridge. Sid provides executive leadership and strategic direction and is a well-known expert in customer experience, business intelligence, and text mining. Prior to Clarabridge, he co-founded Claraview, a leading BI strategy and technology consultancy firm. Under Sid's leadership, Claraview grew into a thriving services firm with over 130 employees without any outside funding. Claraview was acquired by Teradata, a leading data warehousing and business intelligence company, in March 2008.
Over his career, Sid has amassed nearly 20 years of business intelligence leadership experience. A founding employee at MicroStrategy, he held Vice President-level positions in both product marketing and worldwide services. During his tenure leading MicroStrategy's worldwide services division; he grew the organization to a 500+ person organization supporting enterprise deployments of BI solutions. Before joining MicroStrategy, Sid held management positions at Ernst & Young and Sprint International. Sid has a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
CIT: Tell us about your current venture.
Sid: Clarabridge is the leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) powered through intelligent sentiment and text analytics. We enable Global 1000 enterprises to achieve a universal understanding of their customers through intelligent end-to-end customer engagement. With Clarabridge, businesses can automatically collect, categorize, and analyze qualitative customer feedback data. Insights are operationalized across the business, and stakeholders can create lasting relationships with customers by engaging directly with them on their feedback. Insights extracted improve the overall business- everything from customer loyalty, to marketing, to the bottom line. Clarabridge customers include Dell, Expedia, L’Oréal, Marriott International, and Walmart.
CIT: What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
Sid: There are 3 pieces of advice I would give any aspiring entrepreneur. First, Do What You Know. When you start a business, start it in an area of expertise that you are familiar with. Reflect back on past experiences and think about unique insights you’ve been exposed to in the past. Lean on the knowledge you’ve gained in the past to help guide you as you build your venture. Second, Stand Out From The Crowd. Don’t necessarily follow trends; predict trends instead. Opportunities come to those who invest in ideas that others aren’t investing in. And lastly, Opposites Attract. Any successful business needs to have a strong team behind it, and it is important to hire people that complement your own skills. If you’re a visionary, hire those who excel at operations or engineering. A team of competent and high performing individuals will complement each other and drive a successful business.
CIT: What events/meetup groups are essential for startups?
Sid: The great thing about Northern Virginia is that there is a very active networking environment here that helps build and foster our growing entrepreneurial community. Any meetup or startup group that promotes idea-sharing and open discussion is a great resource for both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs.
I have personally been a part of a couple groups that have helped me grow my career. Through Mindshare, a DC-based Meetup group, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of likeminded entrepreneurs going through similar business challenges as I am. I found the Mid Atlantic Venture Association (MAVA) to be a great way to connect with DC venture-funded entrepreneurs. Finally, the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) fosters a community for those interested in the intersection of business and government. Through NVTC, I met a lot of new people I normally wouldn’t interact with on a daily basis.
The three groups that I have listed here are just a few of the many networking communities in the region. I encourage all entrepreneurs to explore the startup and meetup scene—it’s a great way to meet new people, discuss ideas, and learn from likeminded individuals.
CIT: How important is collaboration and knowledge sharing to you?
Sid: Collaboration and knowledge sharing is extremely important. A lot of connections that are made between CEOs, prospective clients, or even prospective customers, come from sharing insight and information with different people. As an entrepreneur, it is important to realize that you are part of a larger ecosystem, and more importantly, that this ecosystem is here to support you. Through collaborating with others, you can gain insight into how to start or fund a company, guide or mentor aspiring entrepreneurs, and learn from those leading the way.
CIT: What makes Northern Virginia’s tech scene unique?
Sid: Through living in Northern Virginia, I have found that the area is full of a lot of talented people- a lot of smart people who have done really interesting work and who bring unique experiences to the start-up community. We are a part of a very supportive investment culture that helps get businesses and ideas out of the ground, and helps our aspiring talent flourish in the entrepreneurship community.
CEO and Co-Founder, Clarabridge